Published December 14, 2012 | Updated October 9, 2019
Selling equipment in the business-to-business marketplace is highly competitive. In order to succeed, sales representatives – regardless of experience and education – require a comprehensive and robust sales training program. Because every industry has its unique characteristics and every individual equipment vendor has its own nuances, a one-size-fits-all sales training program is rarely the solution. A much better approach is for an equipment vendor to develop a customized sales training solution that zeroes in on precisely how the dealership sells by providing very specific training on every aspect of the sales process.
Really the only effective way to do this is through a structured training program. This doesn’t necessarily mean the training must occur in a classroom setting or resemble a college course. Structured training is simply predefined and documented, with defined goals, a curriculum, some form of printed or electronic course materials, and a means of measuring the results.
An effective sales training program should include three fundamental components: the offer, the sales process, and customized tools used to sell effectively. Understanding each component and having the ability to work with them in the field in front of live prospects are prerequisites for sales success.
The first component, the offer, includes the products the equipment vendor sells, along with all the value-added services that go along with it. Most equipment manufacturers have an abundance of material about their products – brochures, videos, spec sheets, and sell sheets are examples – all designed to promote the product line. The equipment vendor’s support services must also be included in the sales training program.
But one of the most important elements of an equipment vendor’s product and service training – one that is often overlooked – is the financing program. Salespeople must fully understand how the dealership finances equipment transactions for customers, how leases are structured, and the many options a business buyer can take advantage of. The best way to develop sales training for product and service offerings is to customize the basic information provided by the manufacturer and the financing company.
The second component of effective sales training is the sales process. This should be a step-by-step breakdown of exactly how to close a successful transaction. Starting from the beginning, sales process training should cover, at minimum, how to engage a prospect, how to uncover the prospect’s pain, how to formulate a winning proposal, how to pitch the proposal, and ultimately how to close the transaction.
Sales process training should be very detailed. For example, it should cover the exact questioning techniques to be used during the discovery phase, when the salesperson is trying to uncover the pain points. It should also cover when the salesperson should introduce lease options into the sales discussion in order to close the transaction. With this in mind, the best way to construct a sales process is to model the success of the dealership’s top producers and then create a consistent sales process accordingly.
The third element of an effective sales training program covers the tools that are actually used to work with prospects and close transactions. Examples of these tools are scripts that can be used for prospecting or closing, either in person or on the phone. Brochures and sales sheets are other tools. Anything a salesperson uses – or should use – to sell successfully should be included in sales training. And these tools should not be simply introduced. Salespeople should practice with them and engage in roleplaying situations where they use the tools in a simulated sales setting.
The point is that while features and benefits provide a good place to start a sales discussion, alone they will rarely be enough. The sales discussion must expand into talking about how those features and benefits will solve a specific problem the equipment buyer is painfully aware of. But one of the best ways to actually close a transaction is to show the buyer how to pay for everything and make it as affordable as possible to do so. That’s why offering lease financing is often the missing link in closing equipment transactions and why it absolutely should be included in every sales training curriculum.