Traditional Sales Training and Professional Selling


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A question that surfaces in the sales training community every so often is whether or not traditional sales training has been rendered ineffective by changes in technology, economy, etc.

Without an agreement on what is meant by “traditional sales training” and “ineffective” any discussion on the matter is likely to have a high probability of misunderstanding especially among participants who are not familiar with each others communication patterns. So, for the sake of this discussion “traditional sales training” will mean “a specific practice of long standing” and “ineffective” will mean “not having the desired effect”. With that being said, let us frame this discussion in the context of “fundamentals” which we will conclude to mean “basic components of effective selling”. Hopefully after reading the meanings we are assigning to those words and/or phrases you will immediately see the rub (i.e. fundamentals being ineffective).

In all fairness, times do change and much of what is fashionable at one point of time is outdated or no longer valid at a different point in time. Certain aspects of traditional sales training, which are specific to the era, industry, etc., are not exempt from this. However, sales is a people business and generally speaking people have not changed much through the years when it comes to self-interest or decisions so the fundamentals of selling are as valid today as they have been for much of the past.

The basic components of effective selling are “self-interest” and “decisions”. Lucky for us traditional sales training provides us with long standing sales practices that have been calibrated against these two (2) components and proven effective through the years by countless numbers of people engaged in professional selling. When viewed through these perceptual filters (self-interest and decisions) professional selling often becomes much easier to understand. As a side note, a key distinction to remember is that not everyone who sells is engaged in professional selling.

Self-Interest: It is quite apparent that people are most receptive when they believe you have what they want or can help them get what they want. This is classic self-interest (WIIFM?). A common complaint I see among salespeople is that they cannot seem to grab the attention or hold the interest of the prospective buyer they call on. How can this example be applied to your own sales practice? As the saying goes, “Find out what people want and help them get it”.

Decisions: If you think about it everything in life is a decision (Do you want to do this or that?) and thankfully we have freedom of choice. In the context of buying the two (2) key decisions a prospective buyer must face are “Will I Buy?” (aka Buying Decision) and “What Will I Buy?” (aka Purchase Decision). The length of time it takes the prospective buyer to progress through these key decisions is known as the “Buying Cycle”. How does this apply to your own sales practice? If you don’t know the difference and/or how to facilitate the prospective client’s progress through these decision processes you limit your own performance by essentially sending the prospective buyers away to figure it out on their own.

In conclusion… the fundamentals of selling have not changed in recent times and traditional sales training offers those engaged in professional selling long standing sales practices that have withstood the test of time. If your own sales practice is not providing you with the outcome you desire then it might be time to look further into traditional sales training and the fundamentals of selling.


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