Some years ago a computer distributor hired me to help them build a software specialist sales team. The distributor had more than 100 “generalist” salespeople, but these salespeople were doing a poor job of selling software. The distributor’s management felt a team of software sales specialists could help accelerate software sales.
This was a very interesting project for several reasons. First, the distributor had 16 software products in its portfolio. Second, they couldn’t afford to hire experienced software salespeople. Instead, they needed to hire consultative salespeople and train them to sell all 16 software products. Oh, and we needed to write a business plan, get a budget approved, hire 6 salespeople, train them to sell 16 software products and have them working in different locations around the U.S., all within 90 days.
It sure seemed that way at first glance. But, when I talked to the software manufacturers, I came to an important realization. The software manufacturers were extremely eager for incremental opportunities. If the new software salespeople could identify qualified opportunities, the software manufacturers were delighted to provide product experts to help with technical qualification, product demonstrations, evaluations, etc. So, all the new software salespeople really needed to learn was how to find and qualify opportunities.
I knew there was no way we could turn the new salespeople into experts in 16 software products within any reasonable time frame. What we could do was make them experts in the business problems the software products addressed. And, we could provide them with “cheat sheets” to use in the field to determine whether prospects had those specific business problems and, if they did, to quantify the impact of the business problems.
The software manufacturers’ marketing departments were all accustomed to delivering exhaustive technical training (what I jokingly refer to as "backing up the dump truck"). No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get them to understand the kind of abbreviated, highly targeted training I wanted the salespeople to receive. I even roughed out a sample training tool (the very first Get Dangerous Quickly™ document) and sent it to each software manufacturer.
Despite repeated conversations and lots of good-faith efforts, the software manufacturers just never “got it.” So, I created the necessary training tools and delivered most of the training myself.
The 6 software salespeople helped the distributor’s other salespeople double software sales during their first six months on the job!
This project taught me a very important lesson. Salespeople don’t need to be experts in specific products or services to sell them successfully. They do need to be experts in the business problems the products or services can solve, how to find and qualify opportunities and how to leverage expert resources.
Over the years I have continued to refine the Get Dangerous Quickly™ approach to product and service training. It has proven to be singularly effective for helping salespeople learn to sell entire portfolios of products and services and gain rapid traction with new products and services.
If you would like to examine a sample Get Dangerous Quickly™ training tool, please feel free to request one via our Contact Us form.