Most sales-training courses amount to teaching “widget” selling, which is not the best technique for winning business-orientated technology deals, according to industry veteran Liam Venter.
Much of the sales training currently available is based on courses developed in the US as far back as the 1950s and treat all sales in the same way, claims Venter who established and ran distributor Lan 1 until selling it to MPA in 2005.
“The problem is that if you have a hammer, then all your problems look like a thumb. I have seen many good salespeople return from sales training courses damaged and trying to conform to a certain model of what a salesperson should be like.”
To address this issue Venter has launched a venture called Salesfish, which will focus on teaching consultative sales techniques.
The Salesfish programme aims to turn salespeople into consultative sales professionals who use a series of processes in their selling approach, which is something many salespeople in the industry lack, says Venter.
“They do one good thing and then they reach what I call the Spike Milligan moment where they ask: What do I do now? If they had a process, they would know where to go next.”
Salesfish also attempts to bypass the “widget” or feature selling many salespeople in the IT industry fall into, says Venter.
“Widget selling works fine in certain sectors like the retail or consumer space, but not when selling to businesses.”
Many salespeople have been taught to use fear, uncertainty and doubt, or FUD, in their selling techniques to manipulate buyers into emotive buying, says Venter.
“These techniques focus on turning wants into needs, rather than helping people and organisations meet their goals.”
Business people do not make emotive buying decisions, but rather look at how the product or service will improve their bottom line.
“They are looking for a return on their investment.”
Salespeople should engage in a dialogue with their prospective clients to determine what their needs are and should attempt to provide some value at each phase of the sales process, says Venter.
Feature selling also does not work because these days customers would already have done their research on a product’s features before a salesperson shows up with a brochure.
“They would already have a shopping list drawn up and are looking for a consultation to help make a sales decision,” says Venter.
Venter estimates that a consultative selling process could result in a 10 percent increase in sales.
Venter developed Salesfish’s consultative sales professional programme based on his years of experience in technology sales and has written an extensive training manual, which started life as a set of handwritten notes.
“I started making notes to help me in my sales 17 years ago and after stapling bits of paper together I realised I had the beginnings of a manual.”
Salesfish runs two-day customised and scheduled training workshops around the country. It is currently taking booking for workshops scheduled to run in Whangarei in August and Auckland in September.
Fifteen chapters of the Salesfish training manual can be ordered free of charge through the company’s website.