Sales is not about luck. It's about understanding the product or service you're selling. To attain this level of knowledge it's important to put in a certain amount of effort – not just during working hours, but in your own time too.
To begin with, when an inductee joins a company, they're keen to impress their employers and are highly motivated to succeed, which means they'll often commit to a programme of self-study voluntarily.
But after this initial period of learning has passed, these individuals often regard their rite of passage as having been completed. They've learnt everything they need to know and can get on with the task they were hired to perform in the first place: selling.
This is why so many sales people under-perform. They fail to realise that the markets they operate in are changing and that this will influence what – and, just as crucially, how – they sell to their customers.
Motivate your staff to succeed
People are understandably reluctant to spend time learning outside of their working environment unless they can see some sort of palpable reward attached to that extra effort. If you're working with a sales team, then convincing them to go the extra mile should be relatively easy.
First and foremost, they need to showcase themselves as experts in their field. Clients won't just ask questions about the product or service that's being sold to them. They may have peripheral concerns about what's happening in the industry in general – specifically, how changes in the market might affect their ability to profit from what they're buying. Failure to answer such a key question could result in the client losing faith – and, just as importantly, a lost sale.
On a more obvious level, if your sales staff don't understand the specifications of the latest addition to your product range, they won't be able to sell it to their clients, which, concomitantly, will have a dramatic effect on their commission levels.
What about non-sales staff?
A sales person relies on their commission to make a living. This means they're faced with a stark choice: commit to a program of self study or fail to succeed in their role. For employees who aren't measured by these metrics it can be a lot harder to motivate them. Are they going to earn more money by studying outside of their normal working hours? Is it going to improve their career prospects? Are they going to enjoy their job more?
The answer to these questions could well be yes.
Someone who takes on extra work without the firm promise of any financial reward is more likely to get noticed than someone who clocks off at exactly 5.30pm every day. As a result of their raised profile, they'll also stand a better chance of being considered for a promotion – along with a (hopefully substantial) increase in their pay.
It would be remiss of us to omit job satisfaction from this list of benefits. An employee who takes it upon themselves to learn as much as they can about their role is going to be successful at what they do. This might also encourage other team members to improve so they're not left behind.
What do you think?
Do you struggle to get motivated at work? If so, what would encourage you to spend your free time studying? Conversely, you may run your own business, or manage a team. If so, what challenges do you face when trying to encourage your staff to learn more about their role?
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