Are you relatively new to selling? Or maybe you’ve been in sales for a while, but you’d still consider yourself a sales beginner.
If that’s the case, it’s not a bad thing.
In fact, acknowledging that you’ve still got a lot of sales training basics to learn is the first step to starting to crush your sales.
Once you’ve come to that realization, you can follow one of two paths…
1) You can try to figure out sales training basics out on your own—banging your head against the wall as you keep doing the same things over and over again.
Or 2) You can learn a proven selling process.
If you choose the path of learning a proven selling process, you’ll be able to train yourself on the most foundational sales training basics necessary to be successful at sales in any industry.
What’s more, you can actually begin to outperform advanced salespeople in no time.
5 Sales Training Tips You Need to Understand:
1. Know your first 30 seconds.
This is one of the most fundamental skills in sales training basics. Do you know exactly what’s going to happen in the first 30 seconds of every selling interaction you have? Most salespeople never nail down these all-important first 30 seconds of the sale.
As a result, they end up meandering through sales conversations, never getting into a true flow because they simply don’t have a repeatable system for starting great conversations.
Knowing your first 30 seconds is everything.
When I was first learning sales training basics myself, I had a mentor who always used to say, “Start strong, end strong.” Are you starting off strong enough? Think about what the first 30 seconds of a sales conversation sound like when you sell. Do you just launch into a long list of all the reasons why the prospect should do business with you? Or are you using a systematic approach that really engages prospects in a two-way conversation?
I challenge you to write out the first 30 seconds of any selling interaction you typically have—whether it be a cold call, what you say to someone you meet at a networking event, or the first 30 seconds of a Zoom conversation on a scheduled video call.
Don’t wing your first 30 seconds. You should know it cold.
2. Get them talking.
You might find this exercise painful at first, but one of the best things you can do to learn sales training basics at the start of your career is to record your sales conversations and then listen back on them afterwards.
(By the way, if your organization doesn’t have the technology to record both sides of the call, at least use your iPhone to record your own voice during each conversation.)
When you listen back on your sales conversations, chances are that you’ll discover you were doing far too much of the talking. You’re likely to find that you’re just droning on and on…and the prospect isn’t talking much at all.
This can be painful to listen to, but it’s imperative that you hear what you sound like.
Talking too much is one of the most common mistakes made by beginner salespeople. And in fact, it’s also one of the most common mistakes perpetuated by veteran salespeople who’ve been selling for years.
Still, overtalking is a particular problem for beginner salespeople simply because they tend to be nervous. And when people are nervous, they often start talking and they don’t stop.
In the moment, it might not sound that bad to you. But I promise that when you listen back on your conversations, you’ll have a realization such as, “Oh wow, that’s a total mess.”
So start recording your conversations and ask yourself, “Am I getting the prospect to do most of the talking, or am I doing most of the talking?” As you listen to your calls, track approximately what percentage of the time you’re talking versus the prospect.
Advanced salespeople get the prospect talking. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have periods of time where you’re the one doing a bit more of the talking, particularly at the start of the conversation. But whenever you speak, the explicit goal should be to get the prospect to open up and talk more.
One of the most important keys of sales training basics is to get them talking. If you’re just doing all the talking, you’re in big trouble. Engage prospects in a conversation by implementing a strong first 30 seconds that prompts a true back-and-forth dialogue.
3. Have your process.
It’s basically my life’s mission to enable salespeople to have a sales process. Whether you use my sales process or someone else’s, I don’t really care…but you absolutely must have your process.
When I say “have your process,” what I mean is that you should have a systematic process in place that you follow on a step-by-step basis in order to close sales. If you’re just winging the sales process and doing whatever comes to mind, you’re in trouble.
Having a process is a fundamental component of sales training basics. It’s one of the biggest distinctions between average salespeople and great salespeople. And by the way, if you don’t have a sales process now, at the start of learning to sell, then you’re likely to never have a process down the road.
Think about it this way. Have you ever gone golfing with some friends? If so, you’ve probably noticed that some people have learned golf by taking lessons—and after years of practice, they’ve got a good swing and they’re solid golfers. But others are “self-taught” golfers—their swing is all over the place, and every now and then they have a huge slice that goes way off one side because they never learned how to golf the right way. They might have practiced just as much as your lesson-taking friends…but because they didn’t learn how to do it right, they were practicing the wrong form and so they failed to improve. They just play around a really strong slice and hope for the best.
The same is true for sales. You need to learn how to sell the right way now, or else you’ll be using bad form the rest of the years you sell. Make a commitment to learn a strong sales process now. The process you use at the start of your career will ultimately determine how effective you are for the rest of your time in sales.
4. Don’t go for the close.
This is counterintuitive to what so many salespeople have been taught. We’ve all heard advice like “always be closing” or that the close is the most important part of the sale. But in reality, sales training 101 shows that the close of the sale should just be the summation of everything that’s gone into the sales conversation up until that point.
When you think about it that way, it’s not the close itself that’s very important. It’s all the little moments that have made up the conversation thus far. The close is simply indicative of how the conversation has gone from the beginning until now. The prospect is going to use the quality of the conversation as the basis for deciding, “Do I want to do business with this person or not?”
Now, if you’re strong in sales, you’re going to focus much more on the earlier part of the sales conversation than on the close. If you’re not closing the sale in the 59th minute of the conversation, it’s not because your close wasn’t strong enough. It’s because the 58 minutes leading up to that point weren’t strong enough.
So don’t worry about going for the close. You should never have to verbally arm-wrestle a prospect to get them to buy from you. That’s old-school selling. Instead, you should be using a process from the beginning all the way through the close that leads the prospect to want to do business with you.
5. You’re not a punching bag.
When we first start selling, many of us hear some version of “the customer is always right” or “do anything you can to get them to buy”—but these mindsets are total junk.
In fact, the customer isn’t always right…and the prospect is rarely right. And you certainly shouldn’t do whatever you can in order to close every sale. You only want to close sales with the right people.
If someone’s not a fit, don’t waste your time trying to close the deal. You should only be focusing and spending time on the right prospects.
To that end, one of the key sales training mindsets you must master is that you aren’t a punching bag.
Let’s say a prospect is being a jerk and says something abrasive like, “Hey, you know what? Just tell me the price. Let’s just cut all this crap and you tell me the price right now.” You don’t have to then just acquiesce and say, “Oh, okay, well, it’s $1,000.” That’s weak. You’re strong.
You’re a strong person and you have rights as a salesperson, too. You’re not a punching bag.
Start to think of yourself as a doctor. You’re there to solve a problem. If a prospect isn’t a fit for your solution, then you can both move along. That’s okay. This is how top-performing salespeople think—like doctors, not customer service reps.
If a prospect says something that’s not in alignment with where you want the conversation to go, then either bring them back on course or part ways for good. That’s it. Don’t stick around and be a punching bag.
Always remember that you have value. Your purpose is to solve problems, and thus you are changing people’s lives for the better. This is the mindset you must have when you’re selling. If you can’t get into that mindset, then move on from sales. Don’t be a salesperson—go into operations, or something else, because this industry is just not going to be a fit for you. You must believe that you’re bringing value into your prospects’ lives in order to succeed.
So, there you have it. Now you know the Sales Training 101 that all beginners must master. Which of these sales training basics did you find most useful? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section to join the conversation.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.