Sales Training – Critical or Just Another Option
In today’s extremely competitive business environment, having any advantage over the competition is useful and critical. One of the most important tools that a company can have to ensure that stay one step ahead is a strong sales team. In the U.S., more than $5 billion is invested in sales training. Yet, in the senior housing industry, training is the first thing cut when trimming budgets. “Our assets walk out of the door each evening. We have to make sure that they come back the next morning” (N. Murthy). The way you get them to come back is to show you care. You show you care by developing your staff and helping them become as successful as possible.
Remember that salespeople are a direct reflection on your company. Continued education is critical to the success of your sales team and should be provided as often as possible. Make sure that you are pushing your sales team outside of their comfort zones. According to our research, only 3 percent of the companies effectively differentiate themselves from their competitors. Give your company the competitive edge over the competition by equipping them with the right tools through proper training.
Ask any great sales manager, and they will tell you: Training and development are the cornerstones of building an exceptional sales team. The same principle is still true for veteran employees. Without proper guidance along the career path, even an expert sales employee becomes rusty. Why does this happen? The sales industry constantly changes and evolves so our sales teams must be changing and evolving as well.
Does your company already have a solid selling system in place? If you answer yes, then here is a little challenge for you. Ask your salespeople to write down their sales process. Is it consistent with your company’s process? My guess is that over time, most of your employees have “adapted” their own sales process. It has either been passed down to them from a manager or it’s just the way they have always done it. If your process is not changing with the industry, you might be in big trouble. If you want to create a sales culture in your company, put a stop to any misguided attempts to alter the system. Training positions every employee to be on the same page when it comes to the company’s overall goals.
You’ve heard the saying that practice makes perfect. Well, that is not exactly the case. Perfect practice makes perfect. If your employees are practicing the wrong techniques, regardless of the amount of time they spend practicing, they are still going to get the same mediocre results. We have conducted over 100,000 mystery shops in the senior living space, and we have found that 70-80% of the deals are lost over the phone. Most companies knowingly admit that their inquiry to tour ratio is about 30%, and they are okay with those numbers. That blows my mind. How can the majority of the industry be okay with those kinds of results? Have we forgotten the definition of accountability? The irony in all of this is that increasing the inquiry to tour ratio is a pretty easy fix. But you “gotta have the want to”. If you want to have a successful sales culture, stop accepting mediocre results.
Here’s the bottom line. If I were to ask every company executive if they would like to have a true sales culture throughout their organization, they would not hesitate to respond with a resounding yes. The challenge is that training companies makes the process too difficult for the salespeople to want to adapt. Do you ever wonder why most salespeople do not use their CRM to its maximum benefit? It’s probably because it is too difficult to learn every bell and whistle that is offered. I recently spoke to an executive that said he wants a CRM that is easy to use. He does not need all the bells and whistles. He just wants an effective tool that will help his salespeople close more deals. Like many of our CRMs, our industry is practically begging for a sales process that will be simple to use, yet effective. If the sales process is too difficult, you have already failed before you started. If you are looking to turn your organization around and develop salespeople into the best versions of themselves, stop weaving “pieces” of multiple processes and wondering why it falls apart after a few uses. Adopt a process that is aligned with your core values and mission statement, keep it simple, and hold your staff accountable for the process.
So, is sales training important? Although you can find articles all over the Internet that dispute it, I sincerely believe that sales training is not just important, but critical. However, it has to be a sales process that is woven into the core values and principles of the company. If you are selecting your sales process based on the lowest bid, you are doing yourself and more importantly, your company a grave injustice. If a prospect tells me they would like a proposal and are bidding with other companies, I bring everything to a screeching halt. You cannot put a price tag on a process that gets results. So you ask, what if I invest all of this time and money in my staff, and they decide to leave? I would answer by asking this question: What if you do not invest your time and money in your staff, and they decide to stay? Choosing your sales process is not a difficult task. However, it is critical that you make the right choice.
About the author. Michael Miller is the President and CEO of Primo Solutions, LLC – a full service Sales Training, Mystery Shopping, and Consulting firm specializing in the senior living space. You can learn more about the company at www.primosolutionsllc.com or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn about the 2½ Senior Housing Sales Seminar, visit www.seniorhousingsalestraining.com.