Sales Training For Your Team
How do you train your team to be more sales focused? Whether you are looking to add a sales associate or simply want your service team to do more cross-selling, training sales is an important piece of running a successful agency. When an agency is first emerging it’s natural that most sales will come from the advisor. As the agency grows, team members are added which means the opportunities for discovering sales isn’t always presented to the agent.
Therefore, it’s vital that all members of your team are, at the very least, trained in the basics of sales. It’s important to note that while some people have a sales mentality, sales is really a skill that can, and should, be taught. However, it’s often not taught well. The financial services industry has a sink or swim mentality. Often, training consists of using shadowing or joint work as a major part of training. Which doesn’t tend to work well on its own.
The problem is that agents are highly educated in sales. Over the course of your career, think about the number of classes, articles, seminars, and conferences that you’ve attended that included sales topics. There is a lot of dedication to learning not only product, but also sales techniques. The “do what I do” method of training means that someone with very little knowledge is asked to watch and copy years of technique. Think of your favorite sports star. Would you improve simply by watching them play 10 games? Maybe. But you’d improve even more if a coach walked you through “how” to improve, because they know techniques that you simply wouldn’t pick up just by watching someone else.
In Optimal Outcome, we’ve created a step-by-step process to helping anyone improve in sales. It’s too in-depth to cover in detail here, especially as it spans several of our best practices, but here is a quick look at part of what a training process should include:
- Self-Mastery: Before jumping into teaching sales, you need to ensure that your team has the skills to manage themselves. Especially when you have service team members transitioning to sales. It’s important to address things like their comfort zone and what they might need to overcome to talk to clients/prospects about sensitive items such as life insurance. This should also include information on organizing leads and yes, the dreaded time management. It takes time to sell, and if not balanced well, providing good service will take over and the team will miss opportunities to educate clients on their financial risks and opportunities.
- Confidence: Knowing what to say and how to say it to clients/prospects is often a barrier for those new to sales. As a team member begins to know products and services, they should also understand the language or even the hook as to why they matter and have some client stories to share. This will help clients/prospects see the needs and opportunities that they have.
- Communication: A large part of mastering sales is effective communication. To really excel, your team needs to hone their skills for Listening and Asking. Truly listening to the client/prospect to hear what their needs are and then being curious and able to ask the powerful questions that elicit more responses, will help uncover their needs and identify the opportunities for you to meet their needs. Learning different communication styles will help your team be able to relate to and match the style of the client/prospect, putting them more at ease and open to the questions being asked. You can help your team confidently hold powerful conversations with clients/prospects by providing them with sales tools such as scripts, agendas, forms and guides for gathering and imparting information. Most importantly, move beyond the “how” to communicate and connect your team to the heart of what you do for clients and help them understand the “why” behind asking questions and gathering information.
- Sales Process: And finally, they need the structure to be able to pull the above sales skills together. Your sales process should be documented and easy to follow. Even if you don’t follow a documented system, you probably have your own method down pat. Because you know that system inside and out, you’re able to be flexible and move around the conversation without the client/prospect feeling as if the process is rigid or robotic. And that is the beauty of a well-defined sales process. It ensures that certain milestones are met, even if it’s not the same every time.
If you’re currently an Optimal Outcome client, or have been one in the past, you have this material ready to use with your team. Look under Multiplying Sales in the Sales Skills booklet for more information. And don’t forget to talk to your Optimal Outcome business coach about how to use this for training your team. If you are not an Optimal Outcome client, we suggest looking at our older newsletters as we cover many of these topics in detail or ask us about the Optimal Outcome Coaching Program, because there’s no need to re-invent something that already works.