How to train inexperienced sales staff

How to Train Inexperienced Sales Staff

How can I properly train my sales staff? There are two sides to sales training. There’s the training on products & of the company & then the sales process. Watch the video below to learn more.

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Read video transcription below.

So we get this question a lot, “How can I properly train my sales staff with lack of experience?”

There’s two sides to sales training. There’s the actual training of the product and of the company and of the offering, right? So if you’re in siding, you have to know siding, you have to train on the technical aspects of siding. What we found is, in many cases, that’s the easiest thing to do. Why? Because hey, go spend a couple weeks with the crews, right?

Go spend some time with the production manager. Go out in the field and learn. And to me, that is an absolutely effective thing. So if you’re not doing that, then you need to be doing it.

But here’s the difference, it needs to be structured. It can’t be hey, you were out with the crew for two days watching an install, you should be an expert. No, there has to be some systematization around it. So there has to be a level of, even if it’s a checklist, a little sheet where they can identify the certain parts that are important to know and to understand. Because here’s the thing, when you go into a home and you present, you can be the greatest salesperson in the world, but if you have no clue what you’re selling, you’re going to struggle. If you don’t understand the difference between … If they don’t understand the difference between vinyl siding and Hardie, that’s a problem. Brick fascia, all these things. People need to understand the dynamic, different types of windows, right? Low-e, is it low-e glass? What about roofing shingles? All of these things are coming to play, there has to be a level of technical knowledge and expertise.

Now the balancing act is you don’t want them to be so technically oriented that they lose sight of the actual sales process, right? So I always like to say if they can get to 80% of what they need to understand, and the other 20% is a, “Hey, let me get back to you on that. That’s a good question.” Then they have a level of confidence and a level of confidence that they need to do it. So when you train your sales people on the product, they need to get out in the field in a systematized way, the foreman needs to understand that part of their role is making sure the salesperson understands what this is we sell and then how we sell it and then explains to them how we sell.

The other thing is with the exception of roofing, because roofing, obviously, there’s liability issues of getting sales people on the roof if you don’t cover that insurance, there’s different things, that they should be actively involved in the installation process. So they’re not going to lead the crew, but they need to be like a helper and you need to tell them, “Hey, you’re going to be almost like a helper. You need to learn how this goes.” And again, this isn’t for the sake of getting free sales labor, turning … I need an extra guy on the crew. This is so that they can truly understand so that when they’re talking to a customer, they understand the process and how it goes.

And then there needs to be a level of follow up where the sales manager, the owner, whoever is inspecting what the results of that training is by having them kind of recite back to them by questions, either in the form of a simple survey quiz, whatever that is, or verbal interaction a lot of times, I don’t have that level of a process, spend an hour with the sales rep and ask them technical questions so that they understand the basic essentials of that. So that’s number one, field training, but with a purpose. All right?

The other part of that is the actual sales process training. Now the thing that I see a lot in home improvement businesses, and it’s not just smaller ones, it’s scaled up ones too, is what happens is the owner looks to find a home improvement salesman that’s already sold, right? And they’ve … He’s a millionaire, it’s a $2 million … I’m going to bring him in because he can sell. And then all right, you know roofing, you know siding. Okay, great. Well, here’s our product book, here’s our pricing, go sell. Right? That’s what happens.

And so they’re bypassing the field training because … And one of the things we talk about when we set up our clients with the brand messaging is what is company ABC’s way? What is the secret sauce? What makes us different? What are the uniquenesses? And a lot of that has to do with the systems and processes that we use. And so part of that is if there’s none of that there, and it’s just more of, “Hey, he can sell, and as long as he sells, I’m good. And I don’t have the time or the resources to train him.” That’s just bad because what happens is now you have all your sales people out selling differently. Yeah, they’re selling the same product, but they’re selling differently, and so there’s no systematization there and you’re trusting that they’re selling it right. And you’re leaving a lot of it up for things.

So part of this is you actually have to have a replicable sales training process, so we’ve all heard of the 10 steps to a sale, eight steps to a sale. There’s lots of them out there they’re available. Some of them you can get as a fee for a service. We have some generic stuff that we use, but this is an investment that you need to be able … That we can help support. You need to be able to build this out yourself. You need to be able say, “Well, what is our sales process? What does that look like? What are the essentials that we’re going to put in?”

It doesn’t have to be this thick, it can be 20 or 30 pages of very concise these are the things that we do. This is how we warm up. These are the questions we ask the customer. This is how we do this. We build and accomplish this. We take the customer shopping. All of those things that are very consultative, that add value, and we provide real value during that process, right? We don’t just go in and all right, I’m looking at that house. It doesn’t look like they can afford a roof. Hey, Ms. Jones, you really don’t want the roof, right? No, okay, great. On to the next one, right? We don’t do that. We have a process that everybody gets the same experience, right?

And then what’s cool is when you create that culture, then you can actually have sales meetings where everybody is speaking the same language, the same terms, the same piece of the step three are what are we doing here? Then you can do things like role-playing, right? Engaging. Hey, how to handle that objection, how to work through that. But the thing is that whether they have experience or not, this is the key idea to the answer in this question, everybody needs to be the same. You can’t assume because they have experience that they’re actually properly trained salespeople, all right? And the thing that I see that takes sales organizations like this are the ones that have an invest the time and energy, it doesn’t have to be a ton of cost to have everybody trained the same way.

The other thing that I found in a lot of cases is that a lot of times home improvement sales people that haven’t really been properly trained, but hey, I went out and sold a million bucks. Oh, I want that guy. He sold a million bucks. I want him to sell a million bucks for me. They come with bad habits, and so bad habits can be very toxic in an environment, especially if you’re trying to build a team beyond hey, I’ve just got one person. I run into companies all the time, they’ve got a $3 million business and they’ve got one guy doing $2 million, and he’s like well, we can’t say anything to him. If he leaves, we’re done, right? And so part of this is the sales team actually holds the company hostage, holds the owner hostage. It’s very toxic. Very toxic. So the goal is consistency, field training, systems internally, and processes.

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