In addition to the theory, there was a year-long practical sales element that had to be passed. The university had a contract with a company that provided a large range of products. You really had to sell these items, produce receipts, cash etc., and deliver the items to the client. As most of us were part-time students in the evening, we felt that we did not have time to sell like full-time students did.
Most people manipulated the system and ended up either buying the products themselves or selling to family. I spent a year with an open bowl of biltong and wors (dried meat and sausage) on my desk at work. The smell was too tempting to my colleagues and they bought the required amount that I needed to pass the course.
The one thing from that course that has stuck with me though was why some companies and their products require salespeople. Essentially, companies that produced high value but maybe low quantity or highly technical products normally require Personal Selling. Low value items like chocolate bars do not need somebody in the store in order to sell them because people will pick them up on their own and you just need a checkout clerk.
So, if your company has a sales team of any size, how often do you think about if your sales people are suited to what they do? Have you ever wondered why somebody that you employed had such a good track record at companies prior to working for you and interviewed brilliantly yet struggles to sell for your company?
Perhaps the answer lies here. The person might have been very good at selling a different product. As it was also high value, it might not have been as difficult to explain to others. The salesperson still has those basic skills that are required but is just missing a trick on explaining concisely enough what your widget does. Or maybe it’s the reverse. The person comes from a highly technical product and is now struggling to sell your much simpler, but high value, product. Maybe they need to simplify their approach and focus on the exclusivity. Most men buying high value watches have other things on their minds than how the actual watch works inside. Leave that side out, focus on the image, branding etc., and you are back to winning ways. Sales Management therefore brings many benefits.
My point is that before despairing and giving up on the ‘failure’ that you had hoped would be a ‘high flyer’, maybe just relook at if it is something small that needs to be adjusted and can cause a big turnaround. That is why a lot of companies regularly put people through sales training. Even if they know it all, a small adjustment or refresher might be just what is needed to rejuvenate the person or get them out of bad habits.
Successful Sales Training and Sales Management is not about a gimmick and it’s not going to let you in on a life secret that nobody else knows about. It is about getting rid of bad habits so that a person focuses again on what works for them, for your industry and for your product. That is what will make them successful again. It is also a lot cheaper than letting them go and having to recruit from scratch again.