Three out of four companies you know are not in the top quartile. By definition they are underperforming. Over the next few Insiders, we will provide tools to help you to assess whether or not your sales team has the capacity to help you grow your business into a top 25% company.
One of the keys to becoming a top quartile company is having consistent and growing revenue. Revenue growth depends on the effectiveness and efficiency of your sales channels. While creating and cultivating your online presence is certainly a key part of supporting sales efforts, most of our clients depend on having sales people who are experts at cultivating client relationships.
According to The Sales Board research, there are five factors that most positively impact sales performance. This data set was compiled over 20 years and tabulates the results from over 400,000 salespeople from over 3,500 companies in a broad range of industries.
Best of all, the research shows that top five skills can be taught and do not depend on talents, personality traits or luck. The five critical skills are:
- The Buyer/Seller Relationship
- Sales Call Planning
- Presentation Skills
- Gaining Commitment
In last week’s edition, we looked at the impact of the sales training on salespersons skill development in the Buyer/Seller Relationship and Sales Call Planning. This week, we’ll outline the kind of dramatic improvement salespeople going through our sales training can expect to see with the third and fourth skills: Questioning/Listening and Presentation Skills.
Questioning/Listening seems like it should be an intuitive skill. Many programs relegate that to handling objections and assume all that’s needed is helping salespeople learn carefully crafted responses or that they can just “shoot from the hip.” Neither approaches are effective because they leave the customer feeling that their concerns are not taken seriously or are being responded to authentically. Research indicates that most salespeople could neither tell you what questions they use to uncover a customer’s need nor evaluate how effective those questions are.
The salesperson must first have a knowledge of the science of Questioning/Listening. And, more importantly, s/he must use that knowledge and apply those skills on the job to improve actual sales performance and insure sales and revenue growth.
In the chart below, the two bars on the left indicate Knowledge measurement. The two bars on the right indicate Application measurement. The blue bars indicate average assessment scores prior to training. The green bars indicate assessment scores post-training.
Note that prior to training, salespeople scored 61% on Knowledge and almost as well on Application (57%). While they were applying nearly all of what they knew, they just didn’t know enough to ask effective questions.
The key to improving the skill of Questioning/Listening is to increase knowledge while driving consistency in application.
Notice that after the sales training, scores of 89% in Knowledge and 84% in Application demonstrate that the training has hit the mark. The training provided increases both knowledge and application of the Questioning/Listening skill. Furthermore, Questioning/Listening skill is a very high-priority skill since it significantly impacts other skills, such as Presentation. To cite one example, until clear identification of needs is discovered through effective Questioning/Listening, the best presentation won’t move the client forward through the buying process.
Let’s examine the impact of the sales training on the Presentation Skills of the salespeople. While we expect salespeople to be great presenters, it was shocking to find that before training they applied only 37% of what they knew.
This skill showed the biggest gap between Knowledge and Application (67 – 37 = 30 points). Training dramatically closed the gap to 8 points. At a 111% gain, improving salespersons’ Presentation skill is a powerful way to increase the effectiveness of sales calls.
Given that these percentages represent the average results based on 400,000 salespeople from over 3,500 companies, you can expect to see similar quantifiable results of having your sales force go through our training.
Look for the next ABA Insider when we share research on the fifth critical skill, Gaining Commitment.
Contact us at email@example.com if you’d like some tips on how to help your salespeople improve Questioning/Listening.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to set up a complimentary evaluation of a sales Presentation.