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Training Day

Coaching your reps on pushing a new product can help them play the selling game better.
January 1, 2003

Evolution proved to be good for the fish, but not so marvelous for the dinosaurs. When it's time for an entrepreneurial company to launch a new product, sales reps may fret that change will leave them fossilized if they aren't able to adapt. Because many sales forces employ a brachiosaurus or two, a well-planned and effective launch is essential for product-and rep-survival. To help your sales team prepare for an upcoming rollout, consider the following training tips:

Tournas' Wallingford, Connecticut, business employs 80 salespeople nationwide and estimates 2003 sales will hit $70 million. The hot-tub retailer introduces new products each year. In 2002, ThermoSpas developed the Healing Spa, designed with the help of the National Arthritis Foundation to be easy to use and to soothe the aches and pains of people with arthritis.

In addition to a sales meeting where reps can look at, touch and sample the product, ThermoSpas also provides a scripted sales presentation that encompasses key features, shows how the new product is different from the competitors' and teaches reps how to respond to anticipated customer questions or objections.

While Tournas doesn't expect reps to become automatons who simply repeat copy points to make a sale, he has found that a rehearsed script ensures the reps have fully learned about the product. "Once this script is memorized, it becomes part of the salespeople, and they can make it their own," says Tournas.

"Salespeople pursue the path of least resistance," Konrath explains. "Since selling a new product can be tough, without an added incentive most sellers will revert to selling what they are comfortable with."

Tournas, however, disagrees on the commission front, warning, "A higher commission will bastardize the rest of the product line. The new product should be unique enough to naturally create excitement in the sales staff."

Kimberly L. Mccall is president of McCall Media & Marketing Inc. ( in Freeport, Maine.

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