If your print sales team wants to systematically improve — rather than leave things to chance — try running a DIY team program. The key is to choose training materials from a top sales trainer who understands the printing industry. Here’s how to lay out your DIY program, choose the right materials, and get started.
Section 1 – THE BENEFITS OF A DIY APPROACH
You may ask why DIY? And why work together as a team on sales improvement versus letting reps follow whomever they like at their own pace?
When we choose one proven sales trainer’s materials and work together on our DIY program, we can:
Try before we buy. We’re all trying to cut corners and get proven ROI before we invest in the full enchilada. A DIY program allows us to see if there’s a good fit for the team’s learning style and our organization’s ethos. If we have good results with the initial program, we can hire the trainer for the next series or a custom session.
Proceed in a disciplined way. We can apply the learning in a systematic way and document regular progress. We can bring in new reps seamlessly and get them up to speed with proven materials.
Measure our progress. The best sales trainers show you how to create a benchmark assessment of where your team is now and how to monitor and adjust as you move through the training.
Pick someone who understands print or manufacturing. We’re not selling internet products, real estate deals, or Bitcoin. We sell print. We want a trainer who understands our unique needs and challenges and can help us open doors.
Build a library of personal resources for the reps. Yes, you buy a book for every rep. Yes, this costs money. Yes, you are investing in the future of your organization.
Run the program with the sales manager or a facilitator. The sales manager can run the program, but my clients love it when I run the training series because reps are more likely to try something new if they see the manager participating.
The DIY print sales training approach using the materials of one proven trainer gives the sales team a trusted source of information, a logical order to proceed, and a methodology they can plug into their own situation.
Section 2 – GETTING STARTED
Look for a trainer who has a deep bench of high-quality materials in a variety of formats to suit the team’s learning styles. For the DIY approach, it helps if the expert has:
- A reputable book.
- An engaging and motivating personality that comes across on video and audio.
- Respected credentials for coaching, educating, and motivating sales teams.
- Creativity and real-life experience to help teams sell in challenging times.
Many generalist trainers who are vocal in the larger arenas have never cultivated a long-term, in-person relationship with a customer. They’ve never performed the miracles we achieve regularly – which is to extract a project and budget from thin air when the customer says they have “nothing coming up” and no money to do it. The gurus-du-jour don`t speak from this experience.
Here are a few of my favorite trainers who have the right materials suited to a DIY approach:
Lisa Magnuson: Excellent for larger companies with a team-selling approach. Lisa helps you develop sophisticated pre-sales planning and sell lucrative projects to targets deep in the customer’s organization.
Linda Bishop: Excellent for reps who feel uncreative or beaten down by customers who blame the economy for a lack of projects. Her book “Selling in Tough Times” is outstanding.
Lynn Hidy: Excellent for reps who want to improve their phone sales and email writing to spark appointments that people keep, high-quality referrals, and more satisfying customer relationships. Lynn is down to earth and uses humor to help you find your best self.
Matthew Price: Excellent for reps who want to be more visible, valuable, and professional. Sales teams need to move toward success, not run away from failure. Matthew can show you how.
Anthony Iannarino: Excellent for advanced reps who want to learn the mental discipline of the sales profession and get prospects to pay attention. I would wait to employ Anthony’s techniques until your reps have the basics covered.
No matter who you choose as a foundation for your DIY sales improvement program, your reps need ongoing input and reinforcement for the lessons to stick and to see results with customers.
Section 3 – THE TRAINING CADENCE
How much time should a busy printing company dedicate to a DIY sales training program?
I recommend a three-month program with four to eight sessions per month. Any less than that and we forget what we learned in the previous session. Any more than that and our other sales tasks fall through the cracks.
Tips on setting the schedule for your DIY Print Sales Improvement Program:
- Have a firm start and stop date for the program. If you don’t, it will never get rolling.
- Move at a pace the reps can handle, which is why a facilitator is helpful for between-meeting support.
- Focus on training. We don’t work on any other items during training sessions.
- Commit to holding training sessions even when the plant gets busy or when holidays get in the way.
- Get sessions on the calendar. I use a shared calendar with invitations, reminders, and agenda.
- Put the material out ahead of time, but be aware that only one or two reps will look at it before the meeting – and that’s fine. Flexibility helps reps who have varying time commitments and motivation levels so everyone feels good about showing up and doing the work.
Section 4 – NEXT STEPS
Whether you bring me in as a facilitator or you run it yourself, I can help you lay out a training schedule and pick the right materials for your team.
Once you have a plan, talk to your reps and set a start date. Hold a kick-off session to get the team fired up.
A do-it-yourself sales training program is a way to save money and get your feet wet. Start with high-quality materials from a well-regarded sales trainer who understands your industry and your type of business. You’ll see what a difference it can make when a team achieves sales progress together!
Sandy Hubbard advises printing company leaders on sales and marketing strategy centered around business growth, transformation, and pre-exit positioning. She also coaches sales and marketing teams to help them reach their full potential. Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn to learn more.