TRAINING AND SALES FORCE IMPROVEMENT

TRAINING AND SALES FORCE IMPROVEMENT

TRAINING AND SALES FORCE IMPROVEMENT

Having selected and appointed one's salesmen, the question of training must be considered.

The training of salesmen is a vital part of the Sales Manager's duties. It should be continuous and not confined solely to induction training for recruits. Experienced members of the sales team need refresher courses to add to their product knowledge and to improve their overall sales performance.

In drawing up a training programme, certain basic objectives should be considered. A salesman needs to be told how he is to achieve the optimum level of sales required in his territory. His sales approach must be carefully explained to him, to ensure that the fullest sales value is obtained from every call he makes. He must be shown how to present his range of products to his individual customers and how to set about the task of planning his journeys and call frequencies to make the most economic use of his time.

The standards of performance required of the salesman should be set by the Sales Manager during the period of induction training. The maintenance of these standards will be achieved only by the Sales Manager's frequent visits to the various territories, when he should make a series of joint calls with each salesman to assess the continuing effectiveness of his performance.

Appointing a Training Instructor

In a company which employs a large number of salesmen, the Sales Manager may find it necessary to delegate certain aspects of sales training. This is not, however, always an easy thing to do. Some firms put their new recruits in the care of the company's best salesmen, with the intention that they should learn by example. This can create problems. The best salesmen may not, necessarily, perform their duties in strict accordance with the methods prescribed by the Sales Manager. The top-calibre salesman may have long since discarded the orthodox approach with no disadvantage to his sales performance. In all fields, one finds that rules and regulations, devised to safeguard the unwary, only cramp the style of those whose knowledge and expertise is such that they have outgrown them. Unorthodox methods employed by top salesmen, however, may well prove disastrous for an inexperienced tyro. At the very least, the recruit will be confused by the contradiction between what he has been told to do by his Sales Manager and what he sees practised by one of the firm's best salesmen. Furthermore, it is one thing for a man to be a successful practitioner and quite another to be an equally successful instructor.

If the recruit is to receive proper instruction in accordance with the principles laid down by the Sales Manager, it may be necessary to appoint, either temporarily or permanently, a sales training instructor. Sometimes, this can be achieved by withdrawing an existing salesman from the field and putting him through a course of instruction on how to train recruits.

Sales Managers who are reluctant to use one of their better : ft salesmen for this purpose should remember that the loss of one

good man from the field can be more than offset by the advantages to be derived from the reinforcement of the sales team with new salesmen who have been properly trained.

Induction training for a new salesman may spread over a period of a few weeks to several months, depending upon the type of product he is required to sell and the complexity of the market into which the company is selling. It is not envisaged that the whole of this time should be spent under instruction. It is important that the recruit should be given adequate opportunity to put into practice that which he has been taught. It will also allow the instructor to adjust the training scheme to suit the pace of an individual salesman's progress. Any weakness in the trainee's understanding of basic principles can be corrected before he moves on to the more complex aspects of his work.


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