Most training programs for newly hired salespeople either are cluttered with a great deal of unnecessary information or emphasize product knowledge while neglecting other selling information and skills. Actually, training in only five basic areas should prepare an inexperienced person to become effective quickly in field sales. The five essential topics are:
1. The nature of the sales process.
2. The account distribution (geographies) of the territory.
3. Prospects in the territory.
4. Sales knowledge.
5. The competition.
A brief consideration of the nature of the sales position will show why. Sales is the most goal-oriented corporate function. Most professional sales job descriptions state a major objective in terms of increased total sales dollars, total profit and/or market penetration or share within a given sales territory.
At the same time, in sales, unlike other line functions, the individual must achieve this main objective while working independently from the rest of the organization. In general, the salesperson is not closely controlled by management in the methods used to achieve the job objective.
At issue, then, is how to train a person who has a specific, visible objective and will be operating, to a degree, apart from the rest of the organization. What knowledge must this person have?
The information included in the five topics listed above should be sufficient. When training is organized this way, product knowledge becomes an equal in a group of five areas that must be mastered. Also, use of this compartmentalized approach will help the training group avoid stressing unnecessary information.
Written by : Daniel K. Weadock. Training Magazine.