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SNI’s Guide to the 2018 Training Industry Report

Andres Lares

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The 37th edition of the Training Industry Report has been released by Training Magazine. From its results, training industry experts, corporate leadership, and company training staff can gain valuable insight into the current status of training programs across the country. In addition, the findings of this report enables industry professionals to benchmark against industry standards and trends.

The Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI) is not exempt from this learning opportunity. We find this annual report very valuable and as a result have decided to create this post in order to pass along some of our takeaways to our community.

 

Report Methodology

The first Training Industry Report was released 37 years ago and the publication is now a trusted source of data for industry professionals and corporate leadership alike. During May and June 2018, an independent research company collected data from Training Magazine member companies via an online survey. Only U.S.-based corporations from Training Magazine’s database were included in this report.

Out of the 271 responses to the study:

  • 36% of responses came from small companies of 100 to 999 employees
  • 41% came from midsize companies with 1,000 to 9,999 employees
  • 23% came from large companies with over 10,000 employees

Survey demographics show a wide range of industry classifications and job functions.

  • 17% of respondents worked in the health/medical services industry
  • 11% came from finance and banking companies
  • 10% worked in manufacturing

Top job roles include managers and high-level company leadership (61%), developers and instructional designers (17%), and mid- and low-level company employees (22%).

 

Time, Money, and Services: Training Expenditure Data

According to the report, training expenditures across respondents’ companies decreased by 6.4%. Total expenditures, including payroll and training products and services, totaled $87.6 billion. Of that total, $47 billion was spent on payroll for training professionals and $11 billion was spent on external goods and services.

In addition, professionals selected top training materials that they plan to purchase in the upcoming year. The most popular products and services include:

  • Online learning tools and systems (41% of respondents)
  • Learning management systems (33%)
  • Classroom tools and systems (32%)
  • Content development (31%)
  • Authoring tools and systems (27%)

It is no surprise that the data shows that professionals continue to transition more spending from classrooms to online. That said, it is interesting to know that classroom tools are still a priority. Consistent with this report, SNI has spent a great deal of effort developing new online learning tools and seen a great deal of success; however, we still believe that classroom is the best environment for an original session and online is the best medium for reinforcement.

 

Delivery Trends and Techniques

Companies utilized a mix of classroom learning, online learning, and blended techniques for training administration over the past year.

  • 79% of small companies, 86% of midsize companies, and 43% of large companies utilized blended learning techniques in 2018.
  • 39% of small companies, 35% of midsize companies, and 31% of large companies used instructor-led classrooms only.
  • 8% of small companies, 10% of midsize companies, and 14% of large companies used a virtual classroom.
  • 24% of small companies, 28% to midsize companies, and 24% of large companies used an online method without an instructor.
  • Mobile and social learning were used significantly less than the other methods, ranging from 0% to 3% per company size and category.

It was interesting to note that blended learning techniques are the most common across all company sizes – this is not only what we would expect but also what we recommend. We were surprised to see that a very small percentage use mobile and social learning but we expect those numbers to grow as organizations are willing to give it a try, especially with the steadily decreasing average age in the workforce and as new technology and platforms continue to be developed.

 

Training Outsourcing and Expert Mobility

Many companies recognize that they lack expertise in some subject areas. They also understand and recognize the value of expert training programs and organizations like SNI. As a result, we were pleased to see that this report found the companies were increasing their expenditures for training outsourcing. On average, companies spent $422,321 in 2018 on training outsourcing versus $219,265 in 2017.

  • 56% of small companies, 55% a midsize companies, and 49% of large companies indicated that they outsourced instruction and facilitation services in 2018.
  • 48% of small companies, 50% of midsize companies, and 54% of large companies outsourced learning management system operations.
  • 34% of small companies, 53% of midsize companies, and 60% of large companies outsourced custom content development.

It is important to note that there are hybrid models available. For example, we recently implemented a large train-the-trainer program with a client that wanted to train thousands of sales people across the country. In this case we developed the curriculum, customized it, and then taught our client’s internal trainers how to teach the class. The result – our expertise, content, and customization combined with internal control and flexibility, and the cost savings that come with it.

 

2018 Training Industry Takeaways

Training industry professionals can learn key lessons from this data.

  • Most companies have been investing in technologically-based training materials and methods, such as learning management systems, custom content development, virtual classrooms, and other e-learning tools for years. Those who have not are now the minority and likely considering it in 2019. SNI has experienced this first hand with clients and as a result developed several online training platforms and online training programs – many of which are mobile-friendly or mobile-based in order to be ahead of the curve and continue to push the envelope the use of technology in education.
  • Companies are increasingly strategic in how they incorporate expert knowledge from outside sources. SNI has seem this first hand as organizations reach out because they are looking for a fresh perspective or simply do not have expertise around negotiation training. We have seen this in particular with smaller firms that simply do not have the staff or larger companies that are looking for world-class expertise.

 

If you have any questions about this summary, or for more information about our training, feel free to contact SNI at 410-662-4764.

The Importance of Product Knowledge in Sales and Negotiation

Jeff Cochran

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Product knowledge is a crucial skill that all effective salespeople need to master. In order to successfully market a product or service, a salesperson must deliver the specifications of that product or service with intelligence and confidence. In order to bring salespeople up to speed with the latest company offerings, management and team leaders engage in product knowledge training sessions.

How can team leaders administer these training sessions effectively, boost retail credibility, and maintain high employee engagement? There are a few types of educational techniques that training administrators can incorporate into their product knowledge sessions. Using interactive activities, humanizing the customer, and collecting feedback are all effective tools to use in this type of training.

 

Hands-On Activities

A person can’t become skilled at something without learning and practicing it several times beforehand. Product knowledge training sessions should incorporate interactive, hands-on activities to encourage this practice. In addition, these activities help break up the monotony of lectures and PowerPoint slides. Incorporating roleplaying activities, simulations, games, and other techniques can provide opportunities for salespeople to test their product knowledge.

For example, a training leader can develop a speed game where a product’s picture is shown on a screen and employees compete to identify the product and list its specifications. Leaders can also pair salespeople together in roleplaying scenarios, in which one person is selling a product to the other. During role play, the salesperson can discuss the specifications of that product. This helps ingrain product knowledge into the brain during the learning process.

 

Define Customer Needs

Customers are more inclined to purchase a product they believe they need. Salespeople should connect the specifications of different products to the customer needs they could satisfy. Connecting each product to a need or set of needs can help with the memorization process. In addition, including these topics in your training will allow for smoother sales presentations during real world situations.

 

Consult With Marketing

Marketing professionals know the specifications of products better than most people in an office. This is because the entire field of marketing involves being able to highlight a product’s benefits and connecting those benefits to customers’ needs. It’s likely that the marketing department of the company has product knowledge materials that they can share with the sales team. These experts can help sales team leaders administer effective product knowledge training using these materials. Check with marketing before creating training materials to save time and generate ideas.

 

Provide Refresher Training

Even the most seasoned sales professionals will forget details about a product. Sometimes, these details could provide opportunities for effective sales pitches. In order to revive this information, as well as introduce new products, team leaders should hold refresher training at least once per year. This will help bring all salespeople to the same page in terms of selling current product.

 

Listen to Feedback

Every training session can improve for optimal education. After each training session they administer, sales team leaders should distribute an anonymous survey for participants to fill out. This survey can be online, on paper, or through another data collection system. With the results of these surveys, team leaders can identify areas of the session that worked and others that need improvement. This presents an opportunity to make the next training session even better.

 

To learn more about corporate sales training for your company’s team, visit Shapiro Negotiations today. We offer integrated and systematic sales training options to optimize your sales power, approach, and customer engagement to their highest potential.

Contact us today to schedule a training session for your company or team.

 

RFQ vs. RFP: What Is the Difference?

Andres Lares

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When a company engages in business with other corporations on a business to business (B2B) basis, they will have to navigate tricky clientele attainment processes. With thousands of businesses to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best price for goods and services without putting in hours of research. Companies engage in large-scale B2B operations through the distribution of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Request for Quotes (RFQs).

These documents allow companies to send out requests to potential contractors and vendors for certain goods and services. In turn, these vendors will send quotes and project proposals to the company for approval and, hopefully, hiring. Usually, the procurement department of a company will distribute these documents.

Though they are similar documents, different situations can lead to choosing RFQ vs. RFP use by a company. A key factor in successful corporate sales is knowing when to appropriately use one over the other. Luckily, there are a few key differences between an RFQ and an RFP that can help corporate professionals navigate these documents.

 

Request for Quote

A Request for Quote, or RFQ, is a document that companies use to gather information about goods from the potential vendor. Before the procurement of these goods, this document explains that the company wishes to purchase a certain type and amount of goods from a vendor. The RFQ will detail the specifications and quantities of those goods.

The company will send the RFQ to specific companies they are interested in working with. In response, potential vendors will send quotes and price estimates to the company who put the RFQ out. From these responses, the company can choose which vendor can provide the best products at the best prices. Usually, a company uses an RFQ if they need to make a large-scale purchase.

For example, imagine that an office is in the market to purchase a large quantity of paper for an upcoming conference. They need to purchase 2,500 reams and are trying to find the best price for their project. The office will send an RFQ to various paper suppliers in their area to find the best quote for the amount they need.

RFQ may also stand for “Request for Qualifications.” Companies use this document to solicit vendor and contractor qualifications to narrow down choices for a project bid.

 

Request for Proposal

A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a document that companies use to gather information about services from a potential supplier or contractor. These documents are more complicated than RFQs since they ask for more than just a price.

Since the document is a request for services, not products, the information contained in the RFP is more detailed than information in an RFQ. The RFP will detail the goals and nature of the project that the company needs completed. In addition, it will detail the number of pages and illustrations that the proposal should contain, what laws the project is subject to, and what qualifications the contractors should have. The company may request the proposal contain other information as well, depending on the project.

In return, the potential contractor will submit a proposal detailing:

  • What the contractor needs for project completion
  • The estimated costs of labor
  • The estimated costs of management and other fees
  • The total project cost

The company will use this proposal to decide whether to hire that contractor. Companies who lack the expertise to detail the scope of the project they want to complete use RFPs to solicit assistance from more knowledgeable contractors.

For example, imagine that a corporation is looking to open a new store location in a different state. They need to find a contractor to renovate their property to match the design of their other locations. They will send an RFP to various contractors in the area detailing the nature and goals of the project, the different building codes that the contractor will have

to adhere to, the company’s style guide, and the licensing requirements the company is seeking. Contractors will return proposals to this company and the company will select the best proposal for hire.

 

What About RFT and RFI?

Other documents that companies use to solicit information from potential suppliers are RFIs and RFTs. RFI stands for Request for Information. Companies use RFIs to gather information on what steps to take next in a contract negotiation. Usually, RFIs are the last stage in the RFQ or RFP process.

RFT stands for Request for Tender. Companies use RFTs to solicit offers from potential suppliers for specific goods and services detailed in the request document. These documents help companies make informed decisions based on pre-identified criteria before hiring or purchasing goods and services.

 

If your company is looking for effective corporate sales training, look no further than Shapiro Negotiations. Our comprehensive workshops for sales professionals will equip your team with the tools, habits, and knowledge necessary for corporate success. Contact Shapiro Negotiations today to learn more about the program and to schedule a free consultation.

What Is Organizational Selling?

Jeff Cochran

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Multiple forms of sales take place every day in the corporate world. From B2B to B2C, a wide range of structures exists to diversify the market and provide the best goods to consumers. One of the most complex forms of sales is known as organizational selling. With organization selling comes a set of standards and guidelines to which salespeople must adhere to establish trust and credibility with their clients.

 

The Definition of Organizational Selling

Organizational selling is defined as a business selling to another business. This seems simple enough, but organizational selling follows a different set of rules than selling a product to a single person. Just like their customers, organizations and businesses require certain products to keep their operations running smoothly. From shipping and packing supplies to raw materials like wood and steel, these organizations need to purchase goods from an outside source if they don’t produce them.

Driven by customer demand to produce goods, organizations purchase products in greater quantities than private consumers. As a result, organizational selling often deals with bulk purchases and their order costs tend to be much higher than what an individual would purchase. In addition, organizations must adhere to certain guidelines regarding the products they use. A certain type or quality of wood, a certain grade of steel, even packing boxes must adhere to organizational policies and consumer protection laws.

Sometimes, governmental standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are also applicable. For example, if your company manufactures no-slip shoes and steel-toed boots, another organization that wants to supply its employees with these shoes would likely ask if your product is OSHA-approved.

When organizations look to purchase goods, they are looking for products that would provide the greatest value for their businesses and meet certain quality and safety guidelines. This makes their purchasing habits unique from individual consumers.

 

Why Is Organizational Selling Important?

Knowing how organizations and businesses purchase goods is the key to marketing those goods effectively. The purchasing habits of these businesses can easily translate to common sales practices such as pitching and cold calling. Organizations depend on certain products to survive. For example, if you own a lumber mill or a mining company, the raw materials you produce are necessities for certain companies to operate. Take advantage of this fact by identifying those companies and pitching your product to them.

Identifying how your products can benefit organizations can lead to the development of a list of potential clients to contact. In addition, the bulk purchases of these organizations will provide major revenue that often exceeds what a private customer can provide. Facilitating an organization’s buying experience by allowing bulk purchases will keep them coming back for future business.

Since organizations adhere to standards regarding certain materials and products, researching the guidelines that surround your product will lead to additional development and marketing opportunities. Does your steel need to be a certain grade to be marketable? Does your latest line of shoes need OSHA certification? Bringing your product up to standard will allow you to market those qualifications to potential customers, making them likely to buy.

The use of missionary salespeople can help you identify and sign potential organizational clients. Missionary salespeople enter a region that your company does not currently serve and market your products to potential clientele, including major organizations that rely upon the goods that you produce.

Salespeople can use the concept of value selling to market your products to major organizations. Value selling focuses on how a product can solve a customer’s problems. With organizations, the problem is simple: They need safe, high-quality products to manufacture their own products and to keep their companies running smoothly. Your company manufactures the safe, high-quality product they need – and you can sell it to them.

 

The marketing formula is simple. Organizational selling is ripe with potential sales success – all it takes is a little bit of research and making the right connections. To learn more about effectively marketing your product to organizations, contact Shapiro Negotiations today about our corporate sales training program.

Tips for Cold Calling Scripts

Jeff Cochran

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Many people say cold calling is a dead practice. With the rise of social media, email, and internet marketing, it’s easy to dismiss good old-fashioned phone calls as unnecessary. The stress of collecting phone numbers, making multiple calls to unexpecting strangers, and facing anger and hang-ups just isn’t worth the low sales yield.

However, many sales employees are simply not communicating effectively with their customers because of poorly written sales scripts that lack organization and a personal human element. Making simple changes, such as studying the anatomy of a cold calling script and taking on a conversational tone will help strengthen your cold calling script and turn your sales pitches from boring and basic to engaging and persuasive!

 

Know the Anatomy of an Effective Cold Calling Script

The basic anatomy of a cold calling script is:

1. State your name and your company, as well as some variation of “I hope your day is going well!”

2. Connecting statement. This is where researching the prospect comes in handy. Use the information you’ve learned about their company or interests and connect it to your own experiences.

3. Reason for calling. Tell them why you’re calling, but not explicitly. Explain that you notice that they are lacking a service or product that your company can provide for them. Be specific and connect with the prospect.

4. Qualifying statement. Tell them why your company can provide the best service or product and make their operations easier. Tell them what your service or product does and ask them if they already use a similar one.

5. Personalized ask. It’s all up to you from here. If they already use a similar service or product, tell them why yours is better. If they don’t, explain the benefits of your service or product. This will lead into your ask – and hopefully lead to a sale!

Many times, a sales call fails because of poor organization and preparation. Adhering to this basic structure will allow you to communicate the purpose of the call and begin your sales pitch to the customer quickly and effectively.

The amount of time a cold calling script should take a salesperson to read through should be 30 seconds or less. The entire sales call should take only a few minutes to complete. With a cold call, you are likely interrupting the prospect’s daily routine and you want to be mindful of their time. With a concise script, you will be able to communicate your message quickly, confidently, and clearly – qualities your prospect will appreciate.

How can such a short sales pitch be compelling enough to lure in new customers? The answer lies in the amount of prior research a salesperson does and his or her ability to hold a conversation.

 

Identify the Audience and Research, Research, Research

Once you’ve identified your prospective customer, take a few minutes to research them. Visit their LinkedIn profile and company website. Visit their associated social media profiles. Make notes of areas where your service or product can benefit them.

This information will help you craft a compelling qualifying statement and reason for calling. This research will set you apart from other sales calls in the customer’s mind, adding a personal human touch to your pitch that will compel them to learn more.

 

Have a Simple Opening

State your name and your company but try not to linger too long on your introduction. If someone detects that you are a cold caller, they may hang up immediately. A simple “Hi [prospect name], this is [your name] from [your company]” will convey a friendliness and a familiarity that will keep the prospect on the phone longer.

Try not to ask the prospect how their day or week is going. Both the caller and the prospect know that “How are you today?” is simply filler and doesn’t convey genuine interest. It is more professional to use a statement such as “I hope your day is going well” or “I hope you’ve had a good morning.”

 

 

Be a Human, Not a Robot

The purpose of a cold calling script is for referral, not to read word-for-word. Having a well-organized script will allow you to communicate in a credible, authoritative way, but if it’s obvious to the customer that you’re reading from a script, you lose that credibility.

Always adopt a conversational tone when using a cold calling script. Read the script like an actor, not a robot. You want to connect with your prospective customer – talk with them, not at them!

 

A Cold Calling Script Example

You can tweak the following cold calling script example to fit your sales pitch. It applies the basic script anatomy, takes on a conversational tone, applies simple research, and has a simple opening.

Jessica, a sales representative for Rooster Distribution, is trying to find new customers for her company’s line of phone accessories, including chargers, headphones, and charging blocks. She identified her city’s local aquarium as a prospect, since it is a tourist hotspot and many travelers may need to purchase emergency phone accessories. The following is the script Jessica plans on using to call Rob, the manager of the aquarium’s gift shop:

 

Hi Rob, this is Jessica from Rooster Distribution. I hope you’re having a good morning!

I’m a big fan of the Bishop Aquarium – I saw that you’re opening a dolphin exhibit next month! I can’t wait to check it out.

The last time I visited the aquarium, my phone was dying, and I noticed that your gift shop doesn’t have any chargers in stock. I know that a ton of tourists come around as well, and I imagine that they might need these products too… you know how hectic traveling can be and how important your phone can be!

Losing a charger or needing one in a pinch is super common and something I deal with all the time. Rooster Distribution supplies local businesses around Bishop with phone products like chargers, headphones, and charging blocks every day. Has your gift shop considered stocking products like these?

[continue from here and transition into ask].

 

Of course, even with the best cold calling script in the world, you will receive hang-ups and rejection. This is simply a part of the sales world. It’s important to keep pushing forward to success – and with a well-organized, conversational script, your chances of success will increase.

To learn more about cold calling scripts and other effective ways to boost your sales call success, schedule a corporate sales training session with Shapiro Negotiations today.

 

Why Sales Analysis Is Important

Jeff Cochran

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When creating a brand, understanding your consumers’ needs is imperative for a successful campaign. Prior to distributing goods to the public, however, businesses need to spend some time researching how their product or service can answer their consumers’ needs. A sales analysis positions a business to become a prominent force within the market because it helps them know if their marketing tactics are effective.

 

What Is a Sales Analysis?

Sales and marketing analytics are essential to unlocking commercially relevant insights, increasing revenue and profitability, and improving brand perception. A sales analysis report identifies the actual sales of a company over time. The report shows if sales are increasing or declining. With an analysis, actual sales may be compared to projected sales.

There are several benefits to conducting a sales analysis:

 

Opportunity to Expand Your Reach

A sales analysis is an opportunity to offer something unique, a niche, to the consumer who is not currently being met by other companies. Consumer surveys can also be conducted to learn about new goods or services that could have high demand in the marketplace. Understanding the demand is essential to remaining competitive. Also, unmet needs of the consumer are evaluated to see how products and services can be improved to increase customer satisfaction and profit.

An industry analysis allows business to estimate how much profit can be generated. Some questions to consider are:

  • Size of the market
  • How much the consumer spends
  • How frequently the consumer spends

 

Repeat Sales

New versus repeat sales of customer groups can be determined with a sales analysis. Managers can use this information to discover if they’re retaining business. Demand forecasting, a predictive analytic, can be used to estimate the quantity of products or services a consumer will purchase.

 

New Consumers and Branding

Gathering information about non-customers is an opportunity to gain their loyalty as well. A sales analysis will be able to identify what non-customers think of your product. The report can define the effectiveness of an advertisement, new products, and targeting. Your brand is important – it’s how your client base identifies you. Social media, sales conventions, and review sites are sources that are used to gather data regarding your brand, and you want consumers across these platforms to easily spot you. By identifying who is not buying from you, and why, your market can potentially be expanded to include new consumers.

 

Business Beware

While there’s no such thing as too much information, not understanding how to sue that information can be an issue. To avoid this:

  • Assess the financial cost: simply, how much money will your decision cost (or earn) the company
  • Assess the culture cost: a solution to a tough decision should have minimal impacts on your overall culture
  • Access the productivity cost: consider the impact of future productivity within the company

Sales analysis is one tool in your marketing kit; use it wisely and watch your client base grow.

 

Overcoming Objections to Increase Your Sales

Jeff Cochran

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In a perfect world, prospects will accept your sales pitch without reservation and come to an agreement about price and other factors, becoming a revenue-generating customer. However, we know that negotiations rarely work out that way – otherwise there would be little need for sales training and the art of negotiation.

We know that one of the toughest parts of the sales negotiation process is overcoming objections to making a purchase or moving into the next step of the funnel. By effectively knowing how to address sales objections, you will be better equipped to engage your average prospect and turn them into a buyer. Here’s what you need to know about overcoming objections in sales.

 

The Most Common Sales Objections

The type of objection that you encounter may vary widely depending on the customer, product, or business model. However, some of the most widely accepted sales rebuttals include versions of the following:

 

1.“We don’t have the money for it.”

Budget is one of the biggest detractors from a successful sale. Many sales reps have the reflexive reaction to simply lower the price, but this isn’t necessarily the best scenario. Immediately lowering the price can bring about questions regarding your product or service’s value, diminishing your authority.

 

2. “I don’t have the authority to make that decision.”

In some cases, a sales objection might arise because the person you’re speaking to has to consult with a boss, a partner, or even a spouse before making a final decision. This can seem like an outright dismissal, but you can see it as an opportunity to follow up with other decision makers involved.

 

3. “I don’t really need it.”

In some cases, a client will say that he or she is happy with the status quo, but what this really means is that fear of making a change may be dictating their decision-making process. Sometimes, this objection arises simply from being ill-informed about the value of a product or service.

 

4. “Now is not a good time.”

Another version of this might include, “Get in touch with me again when I have the budget.” Overcoming this objection is about more than demonstrating value, it’s about creating urgency, and making a proposition so compelling that they might feel regret if they pass up the opportunity right now.

 

5. “I need more time to think about it.”

This can be a particularly tricky scenario to navigate because it combines several of the previous objections at once: It may concern budget, authority to decide, need, and the timeliness of the proposition. Chances are, the customer simply doesn’t see the value of the product or service you’re trying to sell.

 

Best Practices for Overcoming Objections

Now that we know what the most common sales objections are, how can we overcome them? We recommend a four-point process to get the sales negotiation process back on track:

 

1. Acknowledge the Objection

First, it’s important to understand where the objection is coming from. As we highlighted in the sections above, the most common sales rebuttals might mean something else. For some customers, it’s failing to understand the value of the product. For others, it’s complacency or fear of making the change. Still for others, it’s a simple lack of information. By acknowledging the objection, you’re better suited to counter and overcome it.

 

2. Probe to Clarify

Asking simple questions about the customer’s reasoning is the next step in overcoming objections. Open-ended questions tend to work best, as they help you better understand what’s keeping a customer from a purchase. For example, if a customer says they simply need to think about it, ask yourself: what might be holding them back from making this purchase? From this brainstorm, you can help create a trustworthy relationship and establish value by introducing specific benefits of a product or service, such as a guarantee or return policy.

 

3. Respond to the Objection

Next, take steps to respond to any sales objection by clarifying your value proposition or showing how your product or service can deliver value to a customer. For example, if a sales objection arises  due to decision-making authority, don’t wait for a customer to “get back to you.” Instead, use this as an opportunity to identify the concern and keep the process moving along by setting up a joint meeting with the authority that’s holding the prospect back from a sale.

 

4. Refocus the Objection

The last step in overcoming objection is reframing it to arrive at the best solution. The approach to this will depend on the nature of the objection involved. For example, an objection rooted in complacency or perceived lack of need might simply require a targeted pitch of the benefits of your product or service. In many cases, demonstrating unique value, backed by specific examples of how a product or service will solve customer pain points, will effectively quell an objection.

 

Overcoming objections is a matter of asking the right questions, understanding the real reason for the sales rebuttal, and refocusing to drive value. It’s a process that requires plenty of practice, but these tips should help. Additional training can also be helpful in overcoming objections for further increased sales and revenue.

Improve Your Sales Prospecting With These Proven Processes

Jeff Cochran

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It’s no secret that sales is a competitive field. In a technology-driven mobile environment, the industry is more dynamic than ever. Sales reps must make use of a variety of techniques to make the most of their efforts – this applies not only to closing a deal, but with sales prospecting itself. Learn the essential sales prospecting tools and processes you should be incorporating into your workday.

 

What Is Sales Prospecting?

Simply put, sales prospecting involves seeking out potential buyers or customers to garner new business. Ideally, the process of sales prospecting will move a prospective buyer down the funnel until they become new – and hopefully repeat – customers.

The difference between sales prospecting and lead prospecting is subtle, and the source of some confusion. Generally, we think of a lead as someone who has a marked interest in a product or service that is demonstrated by visiting the website, subscribing to an email list, commenting on a blog post, or something similar.

A sales prospect, on the other hand, is a lead who we might deem as a qualified potential customer. In other words, he or she fits a target buyer persona and is generally more likely to continue down the sales funnel.

Some people use the terms sales prospecting and lead prospecting interchangeably, and they’re very similar. However, true sales prospecting focuses the effort on the people who are most likely to become bona fide, revenue-generating customers.

 

Best Practices for Sales Prospecting

Like any other aspect of sales, prospecting takes time, a thoughtful process, and a continual commitment. Over the years, we’ve identified several strategies that make sales prospecting more likely to be successful.

 

It Starts With Your Mindset

Any successful prospecting approach requires the right frame of mind. The best reps use an “always prospecting” approach to their practice. In other words, prospecting is not something that you do once. It’s a continual, effort-based process that uses a variety of techniques to reach success.

In general, the prospecting mindset involves continuous research. Knowing the customer is arguably the most essential aspect of sales, and sales prospecting is no exception. Sales reps must know if they’re eliciting quality prospects that they can deliver business value to. The research phase of prospecting involves asking several important questions, such as:

  • Is the prospect viable?
  • What system will work to prioritize prospects?
  • How can reps develop opportunities to connect?

By continuously deploying the research phase, reps will be able to seamlessly move qualified prospects through the funnel. As with any aspect of sales, mindset is more than half the battle.

 

Develop a Viable Prep Tool

Getting into the mindset seems simple enough, but how can a rep know if a prospect is qualified? This is where battle-tested sales prospecting techniques come in. We find that the following process proves to be successful:

  • Identify the target. Remember, a lead becomes a prospect when he or she fits into a target buyer persona.
  • Establish precedent. Why would a prospect be interested in a product or service? How does it address his or her pain points? Does any compelling precedent exist that would help establish a prospect as a qualified lead? This is also a good time to examine other disqualifying notions such as budget limitations or time constraints.
  • Create a script. The final step in the sales prospecting process is developing a script for identified, qualified prospects. The goal of this script is to be actionable as soon as possible, which we’ll discuss more at length.

 

Rehearse the Script

It’s a good idea to have an established script in place when making cold calls or participating in other sales prospecting activities. However, it’s also important to understand that these scripts aren’t one size fits all. The success of a script depends on a few different factors:

Personalization. Tailor messaging to address a specific problem that prospects are having.

Keep it relevant. Do some research ahead of time and determine if the issue is still a relevant concern. Remember, some prospects simply get stale.

Be professional, but casual. No one likes feeling like the recipient of a cold call. Add touches that make the script seem less scripted and more personable. Use a natural tone, whether communicating through email or over the phone. Resist the urge to be “sales-y” and keep the focus on adding value.

Be helpful. The key distinction between prospecting and selling is the desired outcome. Obviously, the end goal of prospecting is revenue. However, at this stage of the process, provide the prospect with something valuable and expect nothing in return (a good example is a free consultation or something similar).

 

Create a Sales Prospecting Strategy That Works

Now, down to the nitty-gritty details. How can a sales prospecting strategy ensure success? We advise using the following techniques:

 

Use a Mix of Inbound and Outbound

The conventional wisdom has long been to use either inbound or outbound prospecting, but a mix of both tends to work best. While outbound prospecting involves more aggressive prospecting such as cold calling and social media messaging, inbound marketing focuses more on casually emailing or social selling to someone who already has an expressed familiarity with the product or service. Both have their advantages; but inbound prospecting tends to be more successful. Consider, for example, that IMB managed to increase their sales by 400% after implementing an inbound prospecting program.

 

Make a Great First Impression

Even when working with qualified leads that express familiarity and interest, it’s essential to communicate expertise and credibility from the first interaction. Here’s how to do it:

  • Practice, practice, practice. Many reps fail to realize a powerful tool that’s usually in the palm of their hands: their smartphone. Create an elevator pitch, record it, watch, and make adjustments. Think about how to communicate authority and warmth, and make adjustments, as necessary.
  • Ask for feedback. When in doubt, ask for help or expert advice. Most reps can improve or refine an elevator pitch with just a few simple adjustments – sometimes, it just a matter of getting a different point of view.
  • Remember the end goal. Many people fail to recognize the goal of prospecting, which is simply to add value. Do not overtly sell; give a prospect something, and don’t expect them to give anything in return. Do, however, schedule a time for follow up if possible.

 

Sales prospecting is a continual process, but it’s well worth the effort. When using proven sales prospecting techniques, reps can move qualified prospects down the funnel and efficiently increase their sales each month.

Is a Pharmaceutical Sales Certification Valuable?

Jeff Cochran

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A certification means you have successfully completed the coursework and have mastered a particular skill set. While the pharmaceutical sales industry does not require a specific degree, there are ways to show you have mastered what you need to know. Take a quick look at why having a pharmaceutical sales certification can benefit your career and get you ahead in your field.

 

Stand Out in a Crowd

When applying for a job, there can be a field of candidates with the same experience and skills. What will make you stand out from the crowd? Recruiters look for those candidates with experience and professional coursework on their resume, showing they know their field of study. The applicants without any experience or certifications get put on the bottom of the pile. Be sure to add your relevant coursework to your resume to get your name to the top of the list. A Pharmaceutical Sales Certification would definitely make this list of important qualifications.

 

The CNPR Certification

The industry standard is the CNPR (Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative). This certification shows you have mastered the coursework and have an understanding of the pharmaceutical sales field. CNPR status can be checked with a simple phone call or online search, which makes it easy for recruiters to check your status. As an entry-level sales representative, you may not have experience in the field, but having this stamp on your resume will really show you have the skills you need. The test consists of 160 questions that must be finished in less than 120 minutes. At 45 seconds per question, this means there is no time to stop and think. You must demonstrate mastery of the exam questions for a passing score.

 

Industry Standards

The pharmaceutical industry has a lot of standards to learn. You can be sure you have mastered what you need to know by earning a sales certification. The course will take you step-by-step through everything you need to know, ensuring no rock is left unturned. It’s the whole package deal and shows potential employers you have learned and mastered the industry standards to be able to jump right in. Rules and regulations for selling medication are fairly strict, and not knowing them can cost you your entire career. Why wouldn’t you want to be confident in your knowledge of the industry?

 

Know the Jargon

Sales representatives need to master medical jargon before heading out on their first sales calls. Unless you attended medical school, you will probably never have all the language, but there is no way you can sell a pharmaceutical to a doctor’s office or hospital without knowing your subject.

You are less likely to be taken seriously during a pitch if you do not sound like you know what you are talking about. When a client can’t take you seriously, there is no way they are going to trust you. A pharmaceutical sales certification shows potential customers as well as employers that you have the language and knowledge needed to make a pitch and relay the information in a way everyone can understand.

 

Experience Does Not Always Trump Education

Experience does not always come out on top for an entry-level position. Recruiters look for those most qualified for the position, and often that means the person with the most education wins. Experience in the sales field is a great thing, but if it has been done without the proper training, a company may spend more time and effort undoing previous techniques. Instead, they may opt to go with a candidate who is fresh from the certification test, who has learned the medical jargon, industry standards and carries the CNPR certification. Keep this in mind when crafting your resume. Be sure to list all relevant trainings as well as any experience you have had in the field, whether it be a sales position or a relevant medical-related field.

SNI offers coursework that will prepare you for the CNPR test. Having a wide background of sales coursework can add to your readiness for the exam.

How Effective Are Sales Courses?

Jeff Cochran

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Whether you are looking for a new job in the sales field or trying to get ahead in your career, developing your skills is never a bad idea. Changing up your strategy can be a huge help to your business. A sales course is never a bad idea to expand your business and your technique, whether you are brand new to the field or have been in sales for years. Here’s a short look at why enrolling in a sales course can be beneficial to your career.

 

Looks Good on a Resume

Your resume paints a picture of you and your skills before anyone ever hears you speak. If you took a look at your resume right now, what kind of picture would someone see? A lot of times we have experience selling, but nothing to prove we’ve mastered the needed skills. On your resume there is a section dedicated to coursework in your field. This is the place to show employers how dedicated you are to your field, and how you’ve taken the initiative to grow. Adding sales courses to this section tells employers you mean business and they have good reason to hire you.

 

Boosts Your Income

Jobs usually start at the entry level for a reason. It gives you time to adjust to a new workplace and learn the tools of the trade. Think of how far ahead of the game you will be if you already have the skills needed for the position. Chances are you’ll spend less time at the bottom rung, and move your way up to a higher pay level right away. By using what you learned during your training program, you will impress your clients and you will see a huge difference in your business. Sometimes spending the money right from the start means you’ll see a bigger return on your investment over time.

 

Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses

There’s nothing like a little coursework to point out where you could use some help. But in the field of sales, playing off of your strengths and knowing your weaknesses can be a huge advantage. Dedicated sales courses help boost those areas in which you feel weak. You’ll be shown different techniques to use out in the field, and some may play to your strengths more than others. Be aware of which ones work for you and how you can develop your techniques. Take notes so you will remember later, and be sure to practice multiple techniques. Don’t get stuck in a rut only using one. Coursework is meant to develop your strategy, not just show off what you already know, so be sure to take a chance and try something new.

 

Stay on Top of the Market

The field of sales is constantly changing. New information drops daily, plus the products change and upgrade rapidly. Staying on top of all the information can be difficult. Luckily, sales classes are meant to bring all the current information to the salespeople. It doesn’t matter if you are brand new to the field, or if you have been in sales for years. Sometimes it is good to take a refresher course to learn about all the new advances in the field. Other professional fields (i.e. lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc.) like have a certain number of professional development hours every year to learn about the new and upcoming best practices practices. Doesn’t it make sense for you to do the same for your position?

 

Stay Flexible

The longer you use one sales technique, the more it becomes routine and repetitive. Getting set in your ways really limits your types of interactions and client base. Step outside your comfort zone and use sales coursework to broaden your horizons. The more you practice a different type of sales technique, the more comfortable you will become using it in your daily work. Your clients will thank you, and chances are you will see an immediate difference in your business and sales outcomes. Flexibility is the key to keeping your potential customers happy. When you can adapt to your audience’s needs and switch parts of the pitch mid-meeting, you will show off your confidence and knowledge in your field, becoming even more of a resource.

 

What Can I Expect to Learn in a Sales Class?

There is a wide range of topics available for sales coursework. Different places will offer different strategies and techniques. Attending classes at an institution focused on sales will guarantee you are getting the information from the top of the field. Here is a list of some topics that you will cover at SNI:

 

  • How to build trust with potential clients
  • Develop a habit of asking open-ended questions for maximum feedback
  • Discover how to effectively demonstrate the value of what you are selling
  • Learn how to prepare efficiently in order to gain confidence
  • Master a systematic approach to sales that you can repeat with precision

 

These are just a few of the things that the sales course will cover, all of which are relevant and important to the sales field. Even salespeople at management and executive levels need a refresher course on the basics of connecting with people once in a while. The basics are the building blocks of your business and the entire industry. Getting back to the basics will send you further forward on your journey.

 

University or Private Classes?

Your local university probably has some coursework that would fit in with your sales position. Having the stamp of approval from an accredited institution can look good on a resume, but it likely will not fit your specific practical needs. SNI offers coursework that directly pertains to the sales field. There is no messy application process to get in, and we will work with you or your company to gain success. Learn sales skills that will get you where you want to go, and that will send your career in the right direction.