Anyone that knows me well, knows that I have a soft spot for young people that choose sales as a career. This can’t be an easy choice for them as a sales career is often viewed negatively by their peers, family and friends. Evidence of this prejudice against sales is the response that I get to this question at the start of every sales training session: “Write down the very first thought that comes to mind when you think of a salesperson”. In over 75% of instances, the first thought is a negative one, that of a pushy, dishonest, insensitive salesperson that doesn’t care about the customer. This high instance of a negative first thought happens as much with salespeople as it does with non-salespeople…..go figure!!
So, imagine that you’re a salesperson and your first thought of a salesperson is a negative one! How effective will training be if you have that mindset on sales? That’s the secret, how do you shift a salespersons mindset so that they can align their values with selling. They don’t want to be seen as a pushy, sleazy stereotypical salesperson; they want to be seen as a good, honest, intelligent and caring person and still be successful at sales.
Aligning a persons “values” with a powerful sales process completely shifts a salespersons level of commitment and their sales success rate. This is especially important for young people. WOW, what a revelation that was for me when I first realised this many years ago. There’s no use giving someone sales training if it’s not aligned with their values; it’s a waste of time and effort.
With the sales development work I’m doing in the UK at the moment, the vast majority of the salespeople I’m working with are young and enthusiastic kids with only a couple of years of sales experience, if that. Often their experience was in sales support or customer service and they have only now moved into an outbound sales role. We find that they have often not had any other work experience before moving into the sales area and, as you can imagine, are finding the roles very challenging as they are often simply thrown into the deep end and are expected to swim.
Here’s what happens. We are asked to evaluate and train these fantastic young people who have enormous drive and ambition but lack the skills they need to succeed and the sales mindset that aligns with their values. The issue we face are that while these young people have great enthusiasm, they don’t have the sales experience necessary to undertake the same training that we would provide to an experienced salesperson. They struggle to relate to the array of sales scenarios we create in our training programs and may simply drop out of the training as it’s too hard or irrelevant to them.
This was my challenge; how to create an effective sales training program that was relevant for someone either just out of school or who’s only been in sales for a relatively short time. Not only that, but how do we make it interesting and engaging for a social media generation that takes in information in short bites and gets most of their information on-line?
That’s how we came up with our interactive, game-based sales training program from young people called “FLYING START”. You can’t believe how much of a shift in thinking it took to reinvent sale training to reflect how people now learn and take in information. And the results have been amazing. The kids loved the format, fully engaged in the “chunked up” modules and contributed brilliantly in the Webinars that support the training. It was like we found the secret ingredient to make a sales role aspirational for young people. It took the mystery away from sales success and made selling easy and fun.
The secret was to get away from traditional ways of learning and give young people a way to sell that is fun, engaging and most important of all, doesn’t compromise their values. What I learned from this is:
- if you want young people to succeed, talk to them in the way that they want to be spoken to,
- understand that their values are incredibly important to them and
- make learning fun and adventurous.
This is what I found to be the secret to sales success for young people.