By Ryan Taft
“Ryan, I won’t be sending my veteran sales people to your training. I’m only having the newbies come. I’m sure you understand. The veterans don’t need training.”
This was an actual email I received from a sales manager. To be honest, it kind of blew my mind, until I considered the manager’s mindset.
I can hear that little voice in his head saying, “If the training is the same training they received 25 years ago they don’t need it. They know how to shake someone’s hand, make their presentation, and ask for the sale…”
But what if the training is different? What if it isn’t the same old tired techniques?
I know this will sound boastful, but at Shore Consulting we don’t base our training on the same old sales stuff. We’re constantly testing and developing our training content using the latest market research and buyer behavior studies.
Doing so, allows us to offer trainings that are on the cutting edge of our industry – which makes our trainings applicable to both newbies and veterans!
With that backdrop, I see three BIG reasons why sales veterans actually need sales training as much – if not more – than newbies.
1. Customers are sick of old-school sales tactics
Let’s be honest. Do we really believe that throwing out the “feel, felt, found” or “If I could, would you…?” tactic is an effective strategy for today’s buyer?
Of course it isn’t! People have been dealing with these tactics for decades – and they’re over it.
“A tactic known is a tactic blown.”
– General Douglas MacArthur
Sales veterans who continue to use outdated techniques probably do so because they feel familiar with them. And that’s precisely why you must introduce them to new sales concepts and techniques.
2. How people buy has changed
In the past, a customer needed a sales person to get all the information needed to make an informed purchase decision.
Well that’s obviously not the case anymore. In fact, some customers probably know more about your product than you do…and that’s OK. You are still needed.
Just realize that if you approach customers with an “information dump” strategy, you’re likely to turn them off. In other words, stop using feature-benefit selling.
Instead, start by connecting with the customer and finding out about their needs. Make them the focus of your sales presentation.
3. Customers want to find the value themselves
I remember being told in a training class years ago that there were three ways to “build value” during a sale.
First, I needed to tell my customer all about my product. Next, my instructions were to tell them about the history of my company (in glowing terms of course). Finally, I needed to get them to agree to several tie-down statements like, “Wouldn’t you agree?”, “Makes sense to move forward, right?”, “You and your family will love these appliances, won’t you?”
I recall visiting a sales office where the sales person tried to build value in their homes by pointing out the amazing light switches. Yes, I said light switches!
I wanted to talk about an office space. That’s where I found value in a new home. But instead of letting me establish value in an office space, the sales person went on for five minutes about the great light switches. Result? No sale!
All of us – newbies and veterans – need to get to the place where asking the customer to find the value is second nature. It sounds simple. But many veterans struggle with asking the customer to point out the features that light their fire.
The solution? Try asking the customer, “What stands out to you?” Then allow the customer to do their own value building.
If that’s a struggle for you, practice asking this question at home. Practice with your associates. Practice with your manager. I guarantee if you use this simple technique, you’ll see immediate results.
There’s no better time than now for veterans (like me) to move beyond our sales “comfort zone” and become coachable again. If we do, we’ll start changing. And when we change, we’ll start changing our customers world, one sale at the same time.