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It's Time to 'Untrain' Your Sales Force If your sales team is still operating under tradition, they need to adapt to today's buyers.

By Christopher Faust Edited by Dan Bova

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

To exceed expectations of today's savvy buyer, marketing has adapted by personalizing the buying experience through tailored content that addresses specific business needs. Unfortunately, sales has not been as nimble.

Marketing organizations that have invested in today's automation technologies can generate a steady flow of new, organic leads while automating the nurturing process more effectively. But this is only one piece of the selling puzzle.

Related: When Setting Prices, Ignore Your Gut and Pay Attention to Big Data

Sales execution has reached an inflection point requiring an "untraining" of traditional skill sets that may have worked in the past, but won't cut it for closing deals in today's market. Sales teams need to revolutionize their approach to selling, placing less emphasis on a product or service and a more dedicated focus on meeting buyers' needs.

Sound elementary? Perhaps, but it's not what's happening within almost every sales organization. Many sales pipelines end in a "no decision" or stalled deals because sales failed to present value effectively.

We can map the reasons why back to various places, but at the core is a lack of focus on the buyer and the use of outdated selling skillsets. Another culprit is sales processes, which are often inward-looking and lack the agility to align with how today's buyers make purchase decisions. The consequence for this misalignment can derail any organization with lower win rates, missed quotas and unprofitable growth.

Let's assume you've hired the right people, you're paying them well and investing in their training and you're certain you have a product or service buyers want. With all these boxes checked, are you meeting quota month after month?

Most of the current processes to equip and prepare a sales force were developed long ago for yesterday's customer. They are no longer valid. Sales leaders are looking for alternatives to better link training, coaching, reinforcement and best practices for onboarding new sales teams. Now consider your existing sales team -- how were they trained and how are they selling?

Related: 7 Lessons to Rock Both the Stage and Sales

Stripping away conventional thinking and better equipping sales teams makes them more agile to respond to buyer's needs. Customers are seeking simplification in the buying process. They want vendors who are respected experts, who understand their business and objectives, and who can align sales processes to those objectives.

Sales organizations that can validate business problems and quickly identify decision patterns to help customers marks a fundamental shift in today's selling environment.

Training, coaching, reinforcement, product knowledge -- all of these are essential elements of a comprehensive onboarding. The traditional "fire hose" approach is part of the issue. It's tactical in nature and typically "all about you." Your value proposition, messages, capabilities, features, benefits, differentiators -- this kind of thinking doesn't work anymore.

So how do you help sales reps build better relationships with their buyers if they're only talking about themselves? They need to better understand your buyers -- what are their most critical business drivers, what are their challenges, how are they measured, what are their metrics for success? Buyers today are not looking for products -- they're looking for strategic partners.

This transformation does not need to be complicated, but does require leaders and managers to rethink their approaches. It demands a buyer-centric methodology woven throughout all sales processes and enablement initiatives.

Sales leaders can leverage technologies to help drive consistency and guide selling behavior. But most importantly, they need to inspire their sales teams to achieve new levels of selling success by selling the way buyers want to buy.

Related: Sales Tip: Stop Listing Features. Tell Your Customers the Benefits.

Christopher Faust

Chief Marketing Officer

Christopher Faust is responsible for all global marketing, business development and go-to-market strategies at Qvidian, a cloud-based sales execution solutions company that helps sales and marketing leaders succeed faster. Faust is an accomplished global marketing executive with deep domain expertise in the technology sector.


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