Feature, Operations, Sales & Marketing, V10I3

Unlocking Shed Sales Excellence

(Photo courtesy of Arek Socha from Pixabay)

In the dynamic and ever-evolving world of shed sales, mastering the art of selling is not just a skill; it’s a strategic imperative. 

Whether you’re a seasoned sales professional navigating the complexities of the market or a newcomer eager to make your mark, the importance of continuous training cannot be overstated. 

In this extensive guide, we will delve deep into the multifaceted landscape of shed sales training, examining its significance, the diverse array of available options, and crucial considerations for builders and dealers aiming to optimize their salesforce’s performance.

UNDERSTANDING THE VITALITY OF SALES TRAINING

Sales training serves as the cornerstone upon which successful sales careers are built. While hands-on experience undoubtedly plays a pivotal role in honing one’s skills, formalized training programs offer structure, methodology, and proven strategies to accelerate learning and drive tangible results.

1. Real-World Experience

There’s no substitute for real-world experience in sales. However, coupling hands-on experience with formal training can significantly enhance skill development, minimize errors, and maximize the effectiveness of on-the-job learning. 

Real-world experience provides invaluable insights into customer behaviors, market dynamics, and sales tactics, laying the foundation for continuous improvement and success. 

When I started my shed sales journey, I was given a three-ring binder with options for the shed and a single-sheet carport flyer with options on the front and back. I will say there were errors made and sales lost due to me diving in with no official sales training. 

As I progressed in my sales career, I was given the opportunity to go and be trained on a short three-day trip to another shed lot with a seasoned sales pro named Hal Hatcher. He taught me things in sales that I still use to this day. 

To sum this section up I would recommend that if you’re new to shed sales, learn from those around you who have been doing it longer, read books (or if you’re like me, listen to books), and go online for sales training. 

When you do make a mistake and that customer walks out the door and buys from some other shed lot, ask yourself what could you have done differently to have gotten the sale instead of letting it walk. 

Notebooks can be old-fashioned but if you write down notes and then review them and sharpen your sales pitch, you are bound to get better.

2. Mentorship

Mentorship programs offer aspiring sales professionals the opportunity to learn from seasoned veterans within their organization. Mentors provide guidance, share industry insights, and impart wisdom acquired through years of experience. 

The mentor-mentee relationship fosters knowledge transfer, accelerates skill development, and cultivates a supportive and collaborative culture within the sales team. 

One of my mentors was a man named Alex Martins. He was able to walk me through the sales process from beginning to end. He prepared me for the customer before they arrived on the lot. Then he walked them and me through meet and greet and finding the solution to their building needs. 

He kept me accountable in the fact he had given me a notebook in which I was to write every customer’s information who walked into my shed lot: the product (shed or carport), address, phone number, and any information that was pertinent to that sale that they were looking for. 

Then when he would walk into my office and ask me how things were going, he would ask to see that notebook. Let me tell you there were times I did not want to show him that book because I had not done my job in writing this information down and my sales showed it.

As I look back on this, it is apparent to me that his investment in me, his mentoring, made me into the salesperson I am today. If you find that there is someone on your lot who already is great at sales and is willing to walk side by side with a trainee, this is an excellent way to learn how to sell.

3. Sales Conferences

Some people are willing to go out and learn from any source they possibly can. This is because they understand that over the long run, being able to meet the needs of their customers means investing time and money into learning everything possible about their product and how to properly present that to the customer when they walk on your lot. 

Sales summits or conferences serve as immersive learning experiences, bringing together industry experts, thought leaders, and practitioners under one roof. These events offer a wealth of educational opportunities such as workshops, motivational speeches, seminars, panel discussions, and networking sessions. 

Attendees gain exposure to cutting-edge sales techniques, emerging trends, and best practices, fostering professional growth and development. 

What I’ve learned is that when you go to an event, it creates an uplifting effect for your sales staff. The immediate effect of these events may last a month or two or sometimes even longer, but generally, you will see an uptick in dedication to the core principles of sales. 

In the long run, the educational value is tremendous to your company. This is something that you should take advantage of for your sales staff if possible.

4. Personal Coaching

Personal coaching offers a tailored approach to skill enhancement, providing individualized guidance and support to sales professionals. 

Coaches work closely with their clients to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and personalized development goals. 

Through regular one-on-one sessions, coaches offer feedback, accountability, and actionable strategies for improvement, empowering sales professionals to reach their full potential and achieve their sales and career objectives. 

5. Online Sales Training

The advent of online learning platforms has revolutionized sales training, making high-quality educational resources accessible to individuals worldwide. 

Online sales training programs offer flexibility, convenience, and self-paced learning options, allowing sales professionals to acquire new skills and knowledge at their own pace. Whether it’s mastering industry-specific techniques or honing fundamental sales skills, online courses cater to a diverse range of learning needs and preferences. 

I have noticed that when you’re willing to invest in your employees, you are bound to get a return on your investment. 

This is one of the sales techniques I have used with my shed and carport customers. If I invest 30-60 minutes in a site check, the chances that they purchase from me go up exponentially. 

I have found this true with our sales staff as well. In taking the time to invest one-on-one or in an online sales training program, they are happy to know you, as their employer, are trying each possible way to help them succeed.

ASSESSING THE CURRENT LANDSCAPE OF SALES TRAINING

Despite the undeniable benefits of sales training, many organizations continue to underinvest in employee development initiatives. Consider the following statistics:

  • Companies that spent over $1,500 per employee annually on training had gross profit margins 24 percent higher than those that spent less. 
  • 59 percent of employees have received little to no formal sales training, leaving them ill-equipped to navigate the complexities of modern sales environments.
  • Only 15 percent of salespeople have participated in training programs within the past year, highlighting a pervasive lack of ongoing education and skill enhancement initiatives.
  • A significant 74 percent of employees express a strong desire to expand their knowledge and skills in sales, underscoring the importance of investing in continuous learning and development opportunities.
  • A staggering 70 percent of employees indicate that they would consider leaving their current job for an organization that prioritizes employee development, including robust sales training initiatives.
  • An overwhelming 89 percent of employees prefer training solutions that offer flexibility and accessibility, emphasizing the importance of accommodating diverse learning styles and preferences.

EXPLORING KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR EFFECTIVE SALES TRAINING

When evaluating sales training options, builders and dealers must consider several critical factors to ensure maximum effectiveness and return on investment.

1. Customization

Tailoring training programs to the unique needs, challenges, and objectives of the organization is essential for maximizing impact. Customized training content and delivery methods ensure relevance, engagement, and alignment with strategic priorities, driving meaningful behavior change and performance improvement. 

Whether you use any of the different forms of sales training mentioned in this article, the ability to deliver it to your staff is crucial for this to work. Make sure that it “fits” your company in the fact that it will be used. If you spend thousands of dollars on personal coaching or online sales training and your employee does not buy in on this investment, you’re ultimately throwing your money away. 

It’s your job to determine how your employee best learns and then make sure whoever you use can provide that sales training to your staff in the most customized way you need.

2. Interactive Learning

Interactive training methodologies, such as simulations, role-playing, and group activities, foster active participation and knowledge retention among participants.

This is something we use in our lot and any type of sales training should be teaching this in more depth (e.g., handling objections). 

By incorporating hands-on exercises and collaborative learning experiences, training programs facilitate the practical application of newly acquired skills, enhancing learning outcomes and driving behavior change.

3. Ongoing Support

Continuous reinforcement and support mechanisms, such as follow-up coaching sessions and access to online resources, are essential for sustaining learning momentum and driving long-term behavior change. 

By providing ongoing support, organizations ensure that sales professionals have the resources and guidance they need to apply their newfound skills effectively in their day-to-day roles. Keep this in mind when choosing the perfect fit for your sales training program.

4. Measurement and Evaluation

Establishing clear metrics and evaluation criteria aligned with business objectives enables organizations to assess the effectiveness of sales training initiatives. 

By measuring key performance indicators such as sales productivity, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction metrics, organizations can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions about training investments. 

I go back to my own early sales career and think back to that notebook. If I did my job correctly, I knew how many customers walked into my lot each month and I could go back and see what my close ratio was. 

You have to know where you are with your sales before you can determine if you’re moving forward or not at all when it comes to investing in your employees’ sales training. 

5. Scalability and Accessibility

Scalability and accessibility are critical considerations in designing and implementing sales training programs. 

Training solutions should be scalable to accommodate the varying needs and skill levels of a diverse salesforce. Additionally, training modules should be accessible and flexible, allowing sales professionals to access learning resources anytime, anywhere, and on any device. 

Consider your sales training options and make sure that they are the right fit for you and your company.

CONCLUSION: EMBRACING SALES EXCELLENCE THROUGH COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING

In today’s hypercompetitive business landscape, investing in comprehensive sales training initiatives is not just a strategic advantage—it’s a necessity. 

By equipping sales professionals with the knowledge, skills, and strategies they need to succeed, organizations can drive revenue growth, enhance customer satisfaction, and maintain a competitive edge in the market. Whether through real-world experience, mentorship, industry conferences, personal coaching, or online learning platforms, the options for sales training are diverse and abundant. 

By carefully evaluating training options and prioritizing ongoing development, builders and dealers can unlock the full potential of their salesforce, foster a culture of continuous improvement, and propel their business to new heights of success.

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June/July 2024