• “My sales manager told me I just need to make more calls.”
  • “My sales manager takes 50% of my commission to come on a sales call
    with me and doesn’t close deals that I know I could.”
  • “My company offers product training, but I cannot see
  • m to get sales training.”

Above are just a few comments I heard from Sales Representatives in the past week.  These are people who are hungry for success in sales. My life is sales and training.

I have had a passion for  sales and training for 30 plus years. I was fortunate to receive

Sales Training

incredible sales training and sales coaching.   We did a survey of a large sales group and it showed that 53% of the sales people had not been to any type of sales training in over 5 years!

That is like not sending your professional sports players to training camp. A small investment of time and money will yield more sales, a confident attitude, and improved customer relations! You want all of that, right?

Four leading experts agree that the following are keys to success: prospecting, building rapport, call management, active listening, communicating effectively, questioning, time management, showing value, managing objections, closing techniques, and maintaining customer relationships.  Only one expert said “product knowledge.”

Here are a few expert reference articles:

Ok, that is what the experts say – what about actual sales reps?  At Peak Performance Solutions, we did a pre-training survey of 79 sales people to see if their needs matched our training plan for their department.  Their highest desires were to learn how to: build/maintain customer relationships, manage objections/concerns, prospecting, understand customer needs, ask questions, follow a sales process, and understand customer personality styles.  Less than a fourth of the respondents also included: communicate value, time management, presentation skills, and meeting management.

Please note continuous learning should start with onboarding and live training.  Then the continuous part could be computer tutorials, reading books, keynote speakers, off-site seminars, and short concentrated workshops in single topic areas.

So if you want to increase sales immediately, here are a few quick tips for sales training opportunities.

  1. The Basics of Sales: Like a professional ball player, your reps need to get brilliant at the basics. They need to learn the art of engagement and have a purpose for every step of the sale.
  2. Questioning without Interrogating: Selling is not telling and there is an art to asking questions to get the answers to need, want, budget, buying motives and decision makers without interrogating. We practice the Socratic Method that stimulates critical thinking in a way that helps a client uncover their own need without being talked at.
  3. Body Language: It is amazing to me how many cues are lost in translation. If I am going to be a master communicator, then I would surely think it important to read what the clients are “saying” or not saying.

We surveyed 77 random managers who went through our Executive Excellence Workshops (customized Leadership Academy to clients) in the same year.  We asked many questions about what they learned and found most useful. We were looking to see if they could take the learning from the classroom to the workplace. The results of two questions are below and we hope you find this of value as you plan your own leadership training.

For the question “Have you noticed a difference in your workplace since the training?  88% of respondents said YES!

Then for the question “What key changes have you implemented since your leadership training sessions?”   Below are their replies:

I believe some of the percentages listed above were low because many of the managers were already doing that key, so it was not a change for them.  However, it was gratifying to see the leadership lessons were learned and implemented by so many in the year after their training.

I have been reminded time and time again; that an obstruction in our view can hurt us and more importantly it may hurt others.  This hit home when a distracted driver drove straight into our two-day-old car this December, missing my door by an inch and totaling it.  I am reminded of this type of blind spot every time I hear someone complain about: their bad manager, their incapable employee, or that they did not get the promotion they deserved.  While distracted driving causes auto accidents, those drivers do not wake up in the morning saying “I am going to go out and cause an accident today.” Nor do most preoccupied managers intend on hurting their employees.

You see, we all have our blind spots. A blind spot can be detrimental but because it is blocked from site, we do not see what others can see that is sitting right in front of us. We may never fully realize the pain we are causing others by lack of clarity of our own shortcomings.  Studies keep revealing employee engagement lingers at about 33%. Bringing the blind spot into a clear view takes effort.  By not trying to see what our own blind spot is we go around (without a clue) repeating behaviors that are inflicting pain and even damage to co-workers every day and even on ourselves.

I challenge you to have the courage in the coming year to identify your blind spot, the thing that may be holding you back from: moving into that next position, hitting your next big goal, or making it a better workplace for those around you. How can you do this?  Below are five Quick Tips for Identifying your Blind Spots.

5 tips for identifying your blind spots

  1. Ask people who will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear.
  2. Get a 360 Feedback process that gives you concrete strategies for self – improvement.
  3. Learn to accept feedback – maybe you are hearing it, but are you really listening?
  4. Identify patterns and trends in working relationships – you might find that the common theme has a finger pointing back to you.
  5. Hire a coach or find an accountability partner, someone who can help you see it and then be aware when it may be impacting you or your work relationships.

Clarity allows for clear vision and alignment in your life.  Seeing the whole picture will open new doors and increase employee engagement in your work-space.

You can find our scheduled training events on our website.  If you need other training or coaching to help you achieve your new goals, please let us know if we can help.

Gallup employee engagement

The year is winding down.  You begin to think employee morale does not matter because everyone is in a holiday mood anyway and not really concentrating on work.

It is never too late or too early to promote employee engagement.  Marketing Innovators white papers on employee engagement says Companies that commit to engaging their employees increase customer satisfaction by 54% plus companies that foster high morale outperform their competitors by about 20%.

Efforts to increase motivation now may be short-lived, but remember it is a long-term commitment to achieve long-term benefits for your business.

Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”  – Anne Mulcahy

A Gallup poll of USA workplaces indicated 51% employees are disengaged from their work; only 33% of employees are effectively engaged in their work but only 21% of those are motivated to do outstanding work.

What are some ways you can boost motivation and engagement?  Check out 9 Motivational Ideas to Increase Employee Engagement.  (BTW: We offer training and solutions that can help with #6 and #9.)

If the above statistics were not bad to get you considering motivation and engagement goals for next year, check out the many statistical links in the Access Perks blog.

Everything DiSC - Workplace

Everything DiSC Workplace map

For years now, Peak Performance Solutions has been offering DiSC training for our client companies directly to their employees.  Some of our clients have expressed an interest in having their own people trained to be Everything DiSC Workplace facilitators.  For that reason, for the past few years, we have offered training on-line or in in the Wiley-Minneapolis Office to our clients.  Now we can bring the training directly to your location!  Below are short descriptions of the three different options for Everything DiSC Workplace Facilitator Certification.

The on-line training is designed with busy schedules in mind.   Everything DiSC Workplace Certification on-line offers the flexibility of self-paced learning, paired with live webinar sessions led by expert trainers.   You can find out more about this option from our on-line flyer.  To check out the schedule for on-line training, visit our website

The new 2-day Everything DiSC Workplace Certification facilitated learning option of live in-person at your location is a by request only.  You can review the on-site flyer for a little information and check out the agenda too.  Then contact us to find out more and plan dates if you are interested.  Training Includes:

  • Personalized Everything DiSC Workplace profile
  • Certificate of Completion upon completion of course and practical exam
  • Everything DiSC facilitation kit of your choice
  • Learning portal for pre-work, post-exam and reinforcement tips as you begin your training.

If you prefer to combine on-line with travel plus spend at least 2-days in Minneapolis, then the live in-person Everything DiSC Workplace Certification training at the Wiley-Minneapolis Office may fit this desire.   This training agenda is the same as the “at your location” training above. The schedule for this off-site training is also on our website under the on-line dates.

Everything DiSC Workplace

Everything DiSC Workplace Facil Kit

All Everything DiSC Workplace Certification training options should help facilitators:

  • Gain foundational knowledge about Everything DiSC and the research behind it
  • Experience the Everything DiSC Workplace assessment and apply the personalized profile results to real-world scenarios
  • Increase confidence and competence in delivering Everything DiSC Workplace sessions
  • Develop experience using the Everything DiSC Workplace Facilitation Kit with small groups
  • Learn to keep Everything DiSC alive within the organization by creating a culture of DiSC with MyEverythingDiSC.com

Other facilitator accreditation we currently have available is on The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.  You can find the training schedule and links to flyer on the Peak Performance Solutions website.  If you do not know what this program is, visit our blog for an overview of the program, a 2-part outline of the 5 behaviors, and a list of available reports.

In our last post, we looked at why you need to establish a skill set requirement to make your sales process customer focused so you can position yourself as a problem solver for those customers.  In this post, we will consider the what you need in your skill set, how you might assess where your representatives are in the desired skill set, and plan training or other interventions to help them improve their skills so they can achieve more sales and keep customers coming back.

Step 1 – Determine necessary skill set.

Basic skill your sales representatives may need include:

  • Understanding value creation and proposition (more than just knowing your products/services and the competitors plus the differences)
  • Implementing a customer-driven approach that builds relationships (which includes solving their problems by becoming an advisor verses being a pest)
  • Understanding buyer styles and behavior (knowing the difference between conversation and communication skills, as well as body language signals and key phrases)
  • Knowing what questions to ask a new lead when asking for their time or a sale
  • Identifying opportunities (as well as knowing who your customer base is while understanding industry regulations)
  • Knowing the complete sales process and determining where each customer is in the process

Step 2 – Assess current skill levels

  • Determine skills and competencies needed for various sales expectations or levels
  • Design a sales skills matrix and assess each sales rep against it
  • Analyze the matrix results and plan appropriate sales training to fill the gaps in each rep’s matrix

Step 3 – Plan upskill interventions

  • Hold sales training that includes role playing and key questions reps may need to answer
  • Besides training, consider mentoring/coaching and monitoring for successful continual learning
  • If you are planning a hiring ramp up, be sure to include an onboarding process to move new hires along the skills matrix more quickly
  • Re-evaluate yearly to keep up-to-date and promote more sales

If you would like some options for sales training, please visit the Peak Performance Solutions website.  If you are interested in a book to encourage your sales staff, consider The Sales Messenger.  If you have any questions on how we can help you with your sales process and training needs, please contact us.

Are you in a highly competitive marketplace? Does your sale require a lot of prospecting? Is revenue or retention a priority? According to CSO Insights, only 23% of customers view the Sales Rep as a problem solver and very few find their time with a sales person of value.  That brings up a question, are you positioning your Sales Rep to focus on the customer or their training? How much time do then spend on product training versus pure, tactical persuasive selling. There is nothing soft about sales training. It is a skill like welding, batting, or playing a musical instrument.

I watched a documentary on Ted Williams this past week. He was considered the greatest hitter in baseball of all time. He would get very upset when people said, he was a natural. He attributed his success to practice, hard work and self-improvement. He mastered everything including hand and finger positioning, the swing, the hip movement and more. Persuasive communication ( i.e. selling) is no different.   I like to say, there are a lot of amateur baseball players, photographers, and golfers and they are pretty good. What separates the good from the great? The great focus on what matters most: the customer – first, last, and always.

Ramp up your competitive advantage by making sure your sales representatives have the right skill sets to get the answers to the question they need, make a compelling presentation and the sale should close itself. Excellent sales skills should easily transfer from business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) departments within an organization.

How do you know if your employees have the right sales skill set for your business?  First you need to determine what that skill set should include.  Second you need to assess where your representatives are.  And third, plan training or other interventions to help your representatives improve their skills and excel at winning sales.

Check back for the three steps on How to Upskill Sales Representatives in the next post on assessing sales skills.

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