Years ago when I was carrying a bag for a major industrial company covering a territory in South Florida, I recall a “coaching” conversation I had with my district manager. I was new to my territory, and slightly behind plan heading into the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. I was hitting all my targets for number of sales calls and new opportunities I added to the funnel, but I was still behind my goal.
Customer experience is an incredibly hot topic now, driven largely by companies like Amazon who are relentlessly focused on providing customers with a great experience throughout the buyer’s journey. For companies with a sales team, this growing emphasis should be considered in the context of your sales interactions.
According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, each year more than 30,000 new consumer products are launched and 80 percent of them fail. There are a myriad of reasons for this, not the least of which is that the sales organizations aren’t getting what they really need from new product training so they can, you know, sell the new product!
Unfortunately, most product training often bypasses the important step of teaching salespeople how to have solution-oriented conversations in favor of a features-based approach that sales reps then regurgitate in the field.
Imagine if a football coach brought a new player onto their team, handed them a playbook, and told them, “Read this and be ready to run all of these plays for our next game, and by the way, the game is tomorrow.” Is this new player set up for success?
Probably not. It’s crazy to expect any player could learn the entire playbook, along with the skills they need to execute the plays, without some solid practice. And yet, this is more or less the approach to onboarding new salespeople in many companies.
Most companies know what they want a new salesperson to learn, but unfortunately, they haven’t put any thought into how the learning will be structured to ensure success.