We are all familiar with the curricula we experienced in schools and then at the university level. Let’s consider the latter. New students start out with introductory courses usually labeled “101”. With that foundation in place, they proceed through more advanced courses at the 201 and 301 levels before they complete their concentration with some form of capstone experience, usually identified in the course catalog as “401”.
Yet, when it comes to selling skills sales leaders typically pile everyone, seasoned veterans and rookie salespeople alike, into a one size fits all 101 level class. The result for those of us who teach selling skills is a lot of kicking and screaming from experienced salespeople.
The Glenngarry Glenn Ross character Dave Moss (played by Ed Harris) perhaps captures the spirit of veteran salespeople best. Early in the film he complains to his sales manager (played by Kevin Spacey):
“A sales conference! Another sales conference! It’s just some jerk shooting his mouth off!”
Now, who wants to be called, “some jerk shooting his mouth off”?
Of course, one of the benefits university registrars have over sales leaders and HR staff is an understanding of what courses comprise their curricula. They know the sequence of instruction for each concentration, including which basic courses serve as prerequisites to more advanced ones. Indeed, course descriptions include their prerequisites in the catalog. As a rule, sales leaders and HR staff have no sense of what comprises a comprehensive selling curriculum.
Well, we have a two-step solution. The first, which we will explore in this blog, is to identify the skills required to succeed in your business’ unique selling process. The second, to be considered in an upcoming blog, is to test for mastery of those skills.
A good way to accomplish step one is to do an exemplary performer analysis. This will identify both the process and skills your top performers exhibit which distinguish them from more typical performers. This can be guided by an excellent resource: Performance Consulting, 2008, by Robinson & Robinson. Of course, we provide this service as well.
Here are skills and methods you want to look for in your exemplary performer analysis:
A process like a pipeline comprised of a series of measurable milestones.
Understanding of different buyer modes: commodity, consultative or partnership (Rackham, 1999):
Analysis of different decision influences: Financial, Technical, User and Sponsor (Miller & Heiman, 2005)
Use of excellent questions to build the client profile
Understanding of personality type and how to customize messages (Tilden, 2009)
Prospecting skills (if this is part of the unique sales process)
Once the skills for successful selling have been determined, it is time to test for mastery, the topic of the next blog. This will enable you to enroll salespeople in courses that will build on the skills they already have in place and add those that will help them be more successful. Hopefully, it will deter veteran salespeople from calling their trainer, “some jerk shooting his mouth off.”