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Quick-Starting the Model Sales Professional

Once you hire a candidate to work in a transformative sales environment, it is your responsibility to provide the knowledge that person needs to do the job. The problem in the transformative sales world is that sales training is generally relegated to product knowledge. Customer, market knowledge, and the integration of systems, skills, and discipline of the profession are largely ignored.

Typically, we find that 90 percent of sales training is devoted to the products and services being sold, and almost all of the remaining 10 percent is spent on conventional selling techniques such as prospecting, cold-calling, presentation, and closing skills. The amount of training that is devoted to understanding the customer, market knowledge, and the integration of skills that transformative salespeople need to diagnose customer problems, design solutions, and deliver results is negligible, at best.

What is needed is an educational mix that more closely mirrors the medical profession. Seventy percent of the training that doctors receive is focused on diagnosis, and the remaining 30 percent is evenly split between learning about the human body (product knowledge) and learning about treatment alternatives (solutions). Companies in transformative sales would do well to emulate that learning mix (see Figure 8.3).

In transformative sales, we can divide optimal sales education into three categories: (1) Product Knowledge, the study of the features and benefits of the products and services you offer and how they impact the business drivers of the customer; (2) Diagnostics, the study of the customer's business, job responsibilities and the skills needed to uncover the problems customers are experiencing; and, (3) Solutions, the study of how to solve customer problems and how our products and services relate to those solutions.

How does your current sales training relate to these categories?

What percentage of your training falls into each?

Product Knowledge






Figure 8.3: Sales Training Self-Assessment

"Well begun is half done" goes the proverb; and in transformative sales, that means that we need to provide new salespeople (and existing salespeople who are required to adopt a new system) with a foundation on which they can build a successful career. [4] This education not only ensures that salespeople have the tools they need, but it also serves as an appraisal structure that enables management to appraise, correct, and improve their performance.

The initial body of professional knowledge that salespeople require corresponds to the new sales process. We need to prepare them to Discover new customers, Diagnose their problems, and Design and Deliver the solutions. To cover this ground, we typically recommend the 12-Stage Success Plan.

[4]A proverb quoted by Aristotle circa 350 B.C., according to Bartlett's Familiar Quotations 16th ed. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1992), p. 78.

The topics covered herein concern solution sales, consultative sales, and consultative selling.

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