How the Get Dangerous Quickly™ Approach to Product and Service Training Maximizes Account Penetration and Jump-Starts Sales for New Products and Services
Maximizing account penetration is one of the most critical functions in sales. Why? Because account penetration has an enormous impact on revenues and profitability!
Think about it - if every salesperson in your company sold every product and service in your portfolio to every business unit, department, and division of every one of your company's customers, what kind of number would they produce? Something huge, right?
Management Frustration #1: "One-Trick Ponies"
From a management perspective, few things are more frustrating than having a bunch of "one-trick ponies" on a sales team. These are salespeople that have developed a comfort level with just a few products and/or services, and these products and/or services makes up 80% to 100% of their sales.
Consider a computer distributor that has numerous salespeople that fit this mold. They may congratulate themselves for selling servers to an account, completely ignoring the fact that the very same account was buying ten times the server dollar amount in storage, networking equipment, software, and professional services. The distributor's salespeople are barely scratching the surface of the total available opportunity!
Management Frustration #2: Lack of "Traction" with New Products and Services
When your company introduces a new product or service, you make a pretty significant investment in training your salespeople to sell that new product or service, don't you? Doesn't it drive you crazy when only 10% to 20% of your salespeople actually sell it? The ROI for your sales training investment is poor (or negative) and you don't get the revenue boost you expected from the new product or service.
Management Frustration #3: Channel Partners (Resellers) That Don't Produce
What kind of return has your company received from the training investments it has made in channel partners (resellers)? Based upon their glowing promises of incremental sales, you have provided brochures, training materials, and on-site training for their salespeople. Yet, most of your resellers have never produced more than a trickle of business.
Why do these things happen?
The same problem is usually at the root of all three management frustrations. That problem is an excessive focus on technical details in product and service sales training programs.
Many managers and salespeople believe that salespeople need to become experts in order to sell a product or service effectively. To develop this expertise, companies invest substantial amounts of time and money in exhaustive training for their salespeople. Here is a partial list of subjects that are covered in typical product and service sales training curriculums:
- Product features and benefits
- Performance characteristics
- Industry information
- Pricing guidelines
- Promotional activities
- Available collateral material
Unfortunately, when salespeople leave these training sessions, they usually have no idea how to FIND or QUALIFY opportunities for the product or service they were just "trained" to sell! This leaves the salespeople frustrated, as they feel the time spent in training was wasted. Management is equally frustrated with their sales team's inability to gain traction with new products and services, as well as their inability to learn to sell their company's entire portfolio of products and services.
This mutual frustration is often the result of a lack of recognition of one very important fact
When a salesperson identifies a QUALIFIED opportunity, there is usually no shortage of knowledgeable people that can assist the salesperson with converting the opportunity into a sale. These people may include technical or other specialists from the salesperson's own company, or similar resources that are employed by suppliers, channel partners, etc.
If a salesperson has access to internal and/or external product and service experts, why should they invest time learning technical details? Instead, why don't they laser-focus their learning on how to find and qualify opportunities?
You can convert your company's and your channel partners' salespeople into prospecting and qualifying machines by concentrating product and service sales training on the following topics:
- Product/Solution/Service Overview: What does the product or service do? (in plain English)
- Differentiation: What are a few key differences between this product or service and competitive products or services?
- Business Problems: What business problems does the product or service solve?
- Qualifying Questions: What questions should a salesperson ask to determine whether a prospect or customer has the business problems that the product or service can solve, and to quantify the impact of the business problems?
- Expert Resources: What expert resources are available to help salespeople manage other steps of the sales process, such as detailed qualification, technical qualification, configuration, quote/proposal, service delivery, etc.?
If your company or your channel partners have large portfolios of products and services, you can help all of the salespeople "get dangerous quickly" with the entire portfolio by providing summary information for each product or service in a standardized format. Plus, Get Dangerous Quickly™ training tools make handy "cheat sheets" for salespeople to take with them on sales calls.
Where did Get Dangerous Quickly™ training tools come from?
They were an outgrowth from a project one of our principals, Alan Rigg, was involved in a number of years ago. Here's the story:
A computer distributor hired Alan to help them build a software "specialist" sales team. The distributor had more than 100 salespeople, but these salespeople were doing a poor job of selling software. The distributor's management felt a team of specialists could help jump-start growth in software sales.
This was a very interesting project for several reasons. First, the distributor had sixteen software products in its portfolio. Second, they couldn't afford to hire experienced software salespeople. Instead, they needed to hire good consultative salespeople and train them to sell all sixteen software products.
Oh, and they needed to write a business plan, get a budget approved, hire six salespeople, train them to sell sixteen software products, and have them working in the field…within 90 days.
Sound impossible? It sure seemed that way at first; but, when Alan talked to the software manufacturers, he came to an important realization. All of the software manufacturers were almost desperately eager for incremental opportunities. If the new software salespeople could identify qualified opportunities, the software manufacturers were delighted to provide product experts to help turn the opportunities into sales. So, all the new software salespeople really needed to learn was how to find and qualify opportunities.
Alan knew there was no way he could turn the new salespeople experts in sixteen software products within any reasonable time frame. But, he could make them experts in the business problems that the software products solved. And, he could provide them with tools they could use as "cheat sheets” in the field to determine whether prospects had those business problems, and if they did, to quantify the impact of the business problems.
There was just one challenge. The software manufacturers' marketing departments were all accustomed to delivering very detailed, very technical product training. No matter how hard Alan tried, he couldn't get them to understand the kind of concise, targeted training that he wanted the salespeople to receive. He even designed a sample training tool (the very first Get Dangerous Quickly™ training tool) and sent it to each software manufacturer. Despite repeated conversations and some good-faith efforts, they just never "got it". So, Alan developed the software sales team's training tools and conducted most of the training himself.
What were the results?
The six software salespeople helped the distributor's existing 100 salespeople double software sales during their first six months on the job!
This experience highlighted a very important lesson - salespeople don't need to be experts in specific products or services to sell them successfully. They do need to be experts in the business problems the products or services can solve, as well as how to find and qualify opportunities, and how to manage expert resources.
Do you want YOUR sales team and/or your channel partners' sales teams to maximize account penetration and jump-start sales for new products and services?
We can develop customized Get Dangerous Quickly™ training tools for you, or we can teach people in your company how to develop Get Dangerous Quickly™ training tools for your company's products and services.
If you would like more information, give us a call or send us an e-mail. We will be happy to schedule a no-obligation telephone appointment to discuss your specific situation and objectives!