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Why Is Sales Training Important for Small Business?

15 November 2012 No Comment

growthWhy is sales training important for small business?

There are two general answers to that question, and three more specific ones.

The first general answer is that everything is important to small business. This is not the economic climate where any organization, small or large, can afford to stress one or two areas and let another slide.

The second general answer is that all training is important. It teaches new techniques and re-enforces old ones, and every member of your team needs both those kinds of support.

The Specific Answers

1. Sales training enhances the one area where small businesses have an advantage, the person-to-person connection.

One part of that equation is giving your sales staff the tools and training to be available to customers at any time. Customers want to reach someone right away, and when they do they expect him to have inventory and delivery details just a few icons and finger strokes away.

Many people wade into modern communications the way they wade into a lake. They get in just as far as they are comfortable and stay there, and only the most experienced swimmers push right out and head for the pontoon raft. When you give your sales staff modern communications tools, you need to push them into the deep water where they can learn to use it with confidence.

2. Sales training enhances the most public part of a business’ image. If customers see your sales staff constantly improving in the way they are served, they presume the production, services and management of your company are also improving.

When you sales person can’t read the inventory sheet or can’t get the production manager on the phone, it gives customers the impression that the people on your assembly line or in your office might be similarly inept.

But if your sales representative has the confidence bred from a continuous foundation of sales training and practice, it gives customers the picture that all of your organization functions in a similarly smooth way. It makes them feel better about doing business with you.

3. The modern approach to improving an organization is based on constant attention to improving skills and practices. It’s not a process of finding fault and kicking butt. Its focus is on finding ways people can do better.

Two enlightening examples of this approach are the books “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” and “Better: A Surgeon’s Note on Performance” by Atul Gawande. He notes how improvements in medicine and other fields come about from a particular process of finding and solving problems.

Gawande tells of efforts to fight infections by getting hospital workers to wash their hands more frequently. The most successful of these efforts would ask people, “Why can’t you wash your hands more often?” rather than, “Why don’t you wash your hands more often?”

The use of the word “can’t” instead of “won’t” changes the whole nature of the question. It invites the person to become a partner in solving a problem rather than a stubborn barrier to improvement, even when that’s really the case.

In a chapter that resonates particularly with small business, Gawande tells how some of the most innovative surgical procedures in the world are being pioneered by small, overworked clinics in India using equipment that is generations behind the times. These surgeons astonish colleagues at international conferences with the low-cost and effective procedures they developed because they don’t have the luxury of overspecialization and dependence on the newest technology.

That’s where your small business and sales training fit into the picture.

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