Ever wondered what are the other contributing factors other than the long enlisted degrees in your sales employee's resume that can rocket your sales targets? Is there an 'it' factor that you are looking for? If, have you found it? Could you spread-sheet it and use it to train your sales team? We all know that this 'it' factor that can keep pushing your sales targets to sky-high limits, is indescribable. But, do we let this be if we cannot describe it? NO! We need to train our sales professionals. How?
A growing body of research shows that top performers outdo the rest of us because they’ve mastered “soft skills” — in particular, that collection of interpersonal skills generally known as “emotional intelligence.” In this context emotional intelligence doesn’t mean getting in touch with your inner child. It’s the ability to understand the emotional landscape of the sale — not only your customer’s state of mind but also your own — and using that knowledge to adjust your approach “on the fly” to achieve the results you seek. This thinking-on-your-feet ability — which sales researchers call “adaptive” selling — turns out to be something that separates so-so salespeople from superstars. Of course, there’s more to adaptive selling than understanding feelings. You also need a variety of skills and knowledge at your fingertips. But it starts with your ability to read the situation.
Pitching a product to a customer is a skill that needs to be developed over time and requires training to learn and master this skill. It's in the way a sales professional communicates to a customer, that connects with them beyond beyond the surface level, and spawns an immediate likability and trust. Sales managers wish they could clone this person’s hard to train skill set, and many try to by creating training initiatives. Unfortunately, most sales training programs are missing an important focus.
Your sales professionals are provided with the product details and they can even have the world-knowledge of that product, but, can the product sell itself? No, right? Then what is the role of the sales professional? A product cannot sell itself and nor can it be sold if the sales professional is unable to connect with people from an emotional standpoint.
Knowing how to prospect, connect, qualify, and close is essential to being an effective sales person, and that is why companies train new reps on the stages of the sales process. More importantly, a buyer will make a decision to purchase rooted in the equivalent amount of logical facts and emotional impulses. Most sales people know and understand the buyer's journey, but many forget to view the sales process through the lens of the buyer's psychology. We aren't robots! So you can't expect anyone to make a purchasing decision on product features alone. This is where soft skills come into play. Most sales training does a poor job of addressing and effectively teaching and building soft skills in their sales team.
Training soft skills will always be challenging since it requires people to change the way they communicate, and habits that have been developed over a lifetime. Research shows that simulations can be very effective if the technology provides educational materials matching the experience gained using the simulation, allows for repeated practice, and provides extensive feedback.
Training soft skills is challenging regardless of the discipline, whether it is sales or leadership training. With the Motivational Interviewing (MI) technique this process of training professionals with soft skills can be effective. Along with MI and simulation, there are ways to effectively train sales professionals in soft skills to achieve an effective sales growth plan.