9 Components of a successful sales training program

9 strategic sales programs

The underlying principle of the TRANSFORM Strategic Sales training program is helping and enabling rather than pushing and persuading.

It is based on an intense focus on the customer and a sales process discipline, that demonstrates if you do the right thing by the customer, sales results and business opportunity will come.

TRANSFORM Strategic Selling is ideally suited to corporate business-business major account sales, the type of sales that are typically handled by field sales representatives handling average transaction values or lifetime transaction values (LTV’s) usually over $25K.

It is particularly relevant for financial services corporate sales where a specific working capital sales acceleration module is available.

In corporate business-to-business sales, successful sales organisations and sales managers need to provide products or services which deliver strategic differences to the customers business, that makes any pain of change worthwhile.

This usually means that the customer contact should be a strategic level buyer, usually a director level or departmental head. 

The best way to develop differentiated strategic solutions is by researching the market, the customers industry and obtaining a deep understanding of the target client’s business and challenges.

TRANSFORM Strategic Sellers should be comfortable talking at director level and discussing key macro and industry trends.

When you are doing business at a more strategic level, it is often at a higher level than competitors who operate a more product focused sales approach based upon a bottom-up sales contact method.

Strategic selling takes time, time to learn the process, time to train the sales team, time to research opportunities. But the investment in TRANSFORM strategic selling is worthwhile.

TRANSFORM Strategic Sales Training Process:

1. Target ideal clients – determine what industries your business adds value to and what your ideal client profile is. 

2. Research prospective customers – research in detail prospective customers and the trends affecting them and their industry.

3. Approach with value & insights – Attend the first appointment with meaningful insights to build rapport and credibility.

4. Needs analysis – gather information about the potential client needs, pain points and future goals.

5. Summarise client vision – detail your understanding of what the client is trying to achieve & validate your discussions with the client.

6. Finalise a proposal – build a proposal based on the client’s vision and current challenges.

7. Obtain a yes – through smart negotiation and demonstration that making changes from the current situation is worthwhile. Reach agreement based on clearly demonstrated benefits to the client. 

8. Realise the revenues – through an efficient implementation. Oversee delivery of your promise. 

9. Manage for growth & referrals – maintain an ongoing mutually beneficial and constantly improving relationship. Use existing customers to sell to new potential customers.  

Transforming Sales

Step 1 – Target market & clients 

The first stage of the TRANSFORM strategic selling program is based upon taking a cold hard look at the value your business actually delivers to clients.

– What problem does your product or service solve?

– Why is your product remarkable or different?

– What is the compelling event for customer adoption?

It’s important before you try to sell anything to anybody that you ensure the product or service you sell offers the best capabilities possible to your target market.

Profiling ideal target clients is also important to ensure all the activities you undertake are based on pursuing ideal target clients.

So much time is wasted in sales with reactive pursuit of clients that are not the right fit, as opposed to proactively pursuing ideal clients.

I cover this topic in detail in my sales training.

Step 2 – Research & planning

In TRANSFORM strategic selling, research and planning is a critical part of the new sales process. The larger the target client or potential sale, the more detailed planning, analysis and preparation is required. 

Large corporate opportunities need extensive research and analysis before any approach is made to begin dialogue with an influencer or decision-maker.

This is to enable the sales person to determine how they can approach with insights and value and decide on the best opening position.

The pre planning should include what is likely to be of strongest interest and impact to the potential client.

Preliminary information that should be gathered for a large target account would include at a minimum.

– The company size and shape (turnover, staff types and numbers, sites, management and corporate structure, subsidiaries and any parent company)

– The current strategic and business situation (main business goals, issues, priorities, trends of business and industry, a profile of the businesses customers and competitors, and what the company considers important for its own future)

– Decision-makers and influencers (names, positions, responsibilities and locations)

– Financial profile (revenue, profit trends). For financial services sales teams working capital analysis and investigation of financial instruments currently used should be analysed

It’s important to strike the right balance between researching the prospective client prior to the first appointment, and researching during the first appointment. 

The sales person should take advantage of all information that is in the public domain and use time with the client to discuss strategic and operational issues and opportunities.

It’s very useful to use a template or checklist for research of new prospects. The TRANSFORM strategic selling program uses a COST industry analyser to more efficiently gather critical target client information.

Step 3 – Approach with value & insights 

In today’s world where prospective customers are busier than ever, it’s critical that you plan your approach strategy very carefully.

The goal should be to approach the client with real value and insights, not a sales pitch on how great your business is and what amazing industry awards you have won.

Your first interaction with the client is crucial and sets the agenda of your progress and credibility for everything thereafter.

Step 4 – Understand client needs. More details in my sales training course.

Arguably the most important part of the sales process is understanding the client needs. 

For a large, complex transaction this could include multiple meetings across multiple client stakeholders.

The TRANSFORM strategic selling program breaks this critical sales stage into four key levels of questioning.

Step 5 – Summarise the clients ideal state vision 

This step of summarising the clients ideal state vision will dramatically increase your conversion rates.

By taking the step of summarising to the client what they have told you they want to achieve, you confirm you have been listening to all their requirements and if the client is ready, they will allow you to proceed to the next stage of the process, submitting your final sales proposal or presentation.

With some sales organisations having dedicated proposal managers or bid managers its important no information is lost detailing what the client is trying to achieve.

Sitting down to validate the customers pain points, goals and ideal position is a great way to determine what are real opportunities with real interest and what are tentative enquiries or market price checks.

Many transactions are able to be closed at this stage of the sales process if the TRANSFORM strategic selling program has been followed correctly.

Step 6 – Finalise the Sales Proposal

The goal of the final presentation or proposal is to explain how the clients ideal state vision detailed in the previous step can be delivered.

The proposal should detail where the customer is now, where they want to get to and importantly how your selling organisation can take them there.

It’s very important not to move to the submission of the proposal stage too early as this will result in deals that are stuck in decision pending going nowhere. Clients will only move towards accepting a proposal when the benefits of change are articulated well enough in the previous step of summarising the clients vision.

Sales transformation meeting

The salesperson must understand the roles and motives of all people involved in the buying decision and be across all influencers and decision-makers.

The presentation must be professional and concise, whatever the format. Adequate copies, samples and all reference materials must be readily available for all involved.

The presentation must concentrate on delivering the already agreed strategic vision of the client. Keep your final presentation and proposal clear, concise and explain simply how you implement.

Be sure to advise the customer what they need to do next to realise the benefits of your solution.

Step 7 – Obtain the yes through smart negotiation

In the TRANSFORM strategic sales journey, quite often agreement in principle is reached before final contract signing. This is due to the logical step by step flow of the process where the client has to always be comfortable to move to the next stage of the sales journey.

With an in-principal agreement in place, terms and pricing can be more easily finalised. In complex situations it is useful to obtain provisional agreement for the concept in principle as soon as possible. 

The sales person must always be involved to agree and confirm the various points necessary for the conclusion of the agreement to the customers satisfaction.

When the agreement is finalised, it is the sales person’s responsibility to confirm all the details in writing to all concerned on both sides. Deals often fall down in the early stage of implementation through the sales person’s failure to do this thoroughly. 

Expectations need to be clearly understood by both parties at all times.

Step 8 – Realise the revenues through an efficient implementation. Oversee delivery of your promise. 

Even if the completed sale is to be passed on to another person or department in the strategic seller’s organisation for implementation, the sales person must always remain accountable for delivery of the sold promise. 

The strategic seller will have won the sale based on their own hard work, credibility and commitments made, so it’s critical to ensure all promises are delivered.  

The sales person must stay in touch with the decision-maker and give regular updates on the progress of the implementation. 

Usually there will be ongoing issues to manage and prompt resolution of any and all set-up and teething problems is important. 

If the sale is complex, a project plan should be created with regular progress reviews and reporting. 

Upon implementation the sales person must check and confirm that the prospect is satisfied at all levels and at all points of involvement, especially with the decision-maker and key influencers.

Step 9 of Sales Training – Managing for growth & referrals 

In most corporate business to business sales, the sale is never actually really fully concluded. Usually, the relationship and customer support continue and appropriate account management strategies need to be put in place.

Arranging regular account and service reviews are crucial to ensure your original sales promise is continually delivered with the goal being to exceed customer expectations. 

All too often customers are neglected once the sale has been made and the selling organisation has moved onto ‘new’ opportunities.

It is critical to nurture and grow your clients given all the hard work you have put into winning them.

It’s vitally important the sales person or appointed account manager stay in touch with the customer otherwise expansion opportunities will be hard to identify and the customer over time may decide to go elsewhere.

You learn so much about your real value proposition and service delivery by helping, supporting and growing existing customers.

The TRANSFORM strategic sales training program (Manage) final step focuses on putting in place the best account management strategies to grow existing business and make existing client’s partners and referrers.

To learn more about how the nine step TRANSFORM strategic sales training program can add value to your business, book a no pressure informal chat below.