According to one of the most experienced and successful salespeople attending a recent MLP Sales Training Programme, it’s simple: “Just shut up and sell!”
It may seem like a flippant comment but for would-be sales people starting out on their careers, or those that would like to sell more, it’s the best sales advice you’ll ever hear.
Why? Because you will listen your way into more sales than you will ever talk your way into.
It’s an approach to selling that goes against the stereotypes of the chatty salesperson who could talk the hind legs off a donkey. But those stereotypes are based on common selling practice…not insightful best practice.
In my experience, great sales people don’t talk very much at all, but they make what they say matter. They ask great questions. Then they listen. And they really listen, without interrupting or finishing people’s sentences for them. They shut up and sell, using their great listening skills to keep the prospect talking.
That listening approach to selling not only helps the prospect to relax, it’s also great for rapport building and it helps the sales person clearly identify the best way to help the prospect to become a satisfied customer.
Why does it work? Because people like to buy but they don’t want to feel like they’ve been ‘sold to’. You’ll never meet anyone that says ‘let me show you what a salesperson sold me yesterday’; but you’ll often hear ‘let me show you what I bought yesterday’.
Great sales people understand that people buy for their own reasons. As a sales professional, your job is to get them to tell you what they want and why they want to buy it.
You can only do that by asking great questions, listening to the answers, clarifying those answers, then confirming your understanding. Of course you’ll need to speak, but your words will be targeted and meaningful, not only for you as a salesperson but for your prospect as an individual.
Without squandering words on a sales pitch that wastes time pushing the wrong solution, you can skip straight past any resistance and go straight to reasons to buy.
So, next time your meeting with a prospect and you feel the need to launch into your tried and tested pitch. Stop.Remember the ‘Shut up and Sell’ advice and just start listening.
There are a number of sales programmes taking place throughout the year, for more information click here
Could Your Training Budget Work Harder? By Melanie Windle, Personal Development Consultant at MLP Training
As the economic recovery continues, ensuring you have the trained staff you need to drive growth has never been more important, and one method that many organisations use to maximise the value of the talent within their business is internal training.
Sharing valuable expertise is not as simple as putting the person with the knowledge in front of those who need to learn - training can only be effective if it addresses different learning styles of the people.
Internal training programmes can face difficulties if businesses don’t understand the way in which variations in learning styles need to be addressed, and it’s unlikely you will achieve the training outcomes you were hoping for.
These challenges that companies face in delivering effective training led MLP to develop its two-day ‘Training the Trainer’ course, which is suitable for anyone with a training remit, from those developing and delivering training materials for the first time to experienced training professionals.
Delegates that have taken this course in the past have varied considerably and face a range of challenges depending on their level of experience, their remit and their audiences.
The course takes delegates on a journey through the various elements of becoming an effective trainer, including designing training programmes, activities and materials, using ‘off the shelf’ materials, presentation styles and techniques for taking and utilising feedback. It also looks at various training approaches, including solo vs co-training and the use of groups in a training setting.
MLP’s ultimate aim is to provide delegates with a practical toolkit that will enable them to design, construct and deliver effective training sessions, building on their knowledge, skills and confidence so that they understand the learning styles they will encounter and have the strategies they need to deal with challenging behaviour.
The most common trap that inexperienced trainers fall into is to design courses based on the ways in which they themselves learn. MLP’s ‘Training the Trainer’ course outlines 10 influences on learning styles and explains how addressing all ten of these during every training session will ensure that all delegates are engaged during the session, enabling the trainer to achieve the required outcomes from the session.
These learning styles include ‘Activist’, ‘Reflector’, ‘Theorist’, ‘Pragmatist’, ‘Visual’, ‘Auditory’, ‘Reading and Writing’, ‘Kinesthetic’, ‘Left brain ‘ and ‘Right brain’.
Delegates also learn how to deal with difficult situations during training sessions, such as aggressive and confrontational characters and people who don’t want to learn or resent the time investment required to attend training sessions.
Giving trainers practical strategies that they can adopt in challenging situations really helps them feel prepared, and we build role playing into the course so that delegates don’t just understand the theory but have experienced how the techniques we give them work in practice.
In any training scenario, making the session relevant, accessible and memorable is essential.Only when the trainer can achieve all that will the training be truly memorable and the outcomes deliver genuine value from your training budget.
The next two-day Training the Trainer Course from MLP will be held at the Bolholt Country Park Hotel in Bury, Greater Manchester on 26th 27th February 2015.For further information click here.
Are Your Best People Too Good For Your Training Budget?
Whether your company recruits school leavers, graduates, or only those with relevant workplace experience, the chances are that most of your training budget is focused on ensuring those on the lower rungs of the career ladder have the skills they need to climb it.
A clear development path has become an important part of attracting and retaining the best candidates, which makes it an important part of any company’s HR strategy. But what about the talented people that have already proved their value to your organisation? Shouldn’t you be investing in ensuring that you maximise their value with courses that focus on leadership, time management and mentoring?
Many companies have a policy of promoting from within, which can have significant commercial advantages.However, promotion from a ‘doing’ role to a managerial role is often awarded without any investment in management training – which means that the individual may not have the skills they need to adjust to their new responsibilities and the company may not benefit from their full potential.
Even the most talented and experienced people in an organisation sometimes need to take a step back and examine how they can do things better. Just one behaviour change as a result of training can have a significant impact on productivity and the ability to add value.
There may be barriers to this, not least in a reluctance from busy senior people to take time out of their schedule to spend on training.However, by selecting an outcomes-based training model with clear goals and a defined follow up process, any objections can be overcome and any time invested will be more than recouped in greater efficiency and productivity day-to-day.
A culture of continuous improvement can only thrive in any organisation if there is a commitment to developing the skills of those who run it.If UK companies are serious about building on their success in post-recession Britain, training needs to be high on the agenda at the highest levels of the career ladder.
The importance of being assertive by Emma Brereton, account manager at The Write Angle
When I was offered a place on an assertiveness course with MLP Training I thought the room would be full of the meek and mild.
How wrong I was. Developing assertiveness skills is not just for those who have trouble standing up for themselves, it's also important for people who come across as aggressive – both of which can be extremely detrimental in the workplace.
Assertiveness is about looking at ways of dealing with certain situations and different people whilst remaining firm but fair.
During the day's course we analysed what aggressive, passive and assertive behaviours look like. For example,
Getting your own way no matter what and winning at all costs
Getting your point across at another person's expense
Making people do things they don't want to do
Being loud threatening and violent
Keeping quiet and avoiding conflict for fear of upsetting people
Always saying yes
Not expressing your true feelings
Listening and showing an understanding to other people's point of view
Being able to reach workable compromise solutions
Dealing with conflict
Being able to recognise your mistakes and recognise your limitations
Analysing these behaviours really helped the group to understand what it is they need to do to change the way we are in the workplace. To achieve the optimum level of assertiveness, we were told, there are a number of things you need to think about; as maintaining good posture, making good eye contact, having a balanced tone of voice and controlling gestures that we do subconsciously like twiddling hair or clasping hands. These subconscious actions are often very revealing and are things that need to be controlled.
Developing good assertiveness skills leads into the ability of being able to say no, dealing with criticism and confrontation. Essentially it's about keeping a level head, being confident in what you're saying and calmly standing your ground.
I learnt a lot about myself on the day and I think I definitely have a good foundation for becoming an assertive person in the workplace. There are 10 rules I now try to abide by to make sure I'm keeping on top of what we learnt.
1. Respect myself and the choices I make
2. Take responsibility for my actions
3. Recognise my own needs and wants independently of others
4. Make clear statements about how I feel and what I want to do
5. Enjoy your successes
6. Ask for time to think things over if needed
7. Set clear boundaries
8. Don't worry about the mistakes I make
9. Be clear in asking for what I want
10. Respect others and their right to be assertive.