How To Succeed In Sales Without Much Training Improving your performance in the current lack-of-training environment
By James M. Benson
Sales training was once considered essential to any financial services company. It was for me when I began selling insurance in the early 1970s.
We learned plenty about the business, but we also learned about connecting with clients, about the human drama of sales. My job was to empathize, to understand prospects’ fears and aspirations, and to guide them on a road that led to financial security and peace of mind.
My training also taught me that sales should never be relegated to the bottom of the economic food chain. Done properly, it helps others achieve their life goals and should be viewed as a noble calling.
I fear these admirable lessons are not being taught today, as most companies have dramatically scaled back, if not eliminated, sales training. The cutbacks reflect the bottom-line culture of corporate America, as precious dollars are now devoted to other areas, such as technology, that appear to yield more tangible benefits.
The training that does take place often focuses on individual product features. This, I believe, is a mistake for most any industry but particularly financial services, where competitors can quickly duplicate any product advantage.
It’s important, of course, to highlight why a specific product is right for a particular client, but most customers know that other sales professionals will have other products that meet their needs. Product alone is not enough to close a deal.
A sales professional can take many steps to improve performance, but I?d like to mention three. They alone will not replace the kind of comprehensive sales training I once received. But they will lead you in the right direction.
1. Take Control of the Sale. You are the professional in this relationship, and you should control every aspect of the sales process. If you lose control, your prospects will begin to doubt you and your efforts will be thwarted.
To avert that outcome, thoroughly interview prospects to learn about their financial goals so you can demonstrate how a particular investment opportunity or financial product will meet their needs. Support your recommendations with factual, neutral information (a Value Line report, for example, or a chart of a mutual fund?s returns compared to that of a well-known index like the S&P 500).