Powering Performance - Sales Training across Europe
Our EFMP partners are specifically selected by leading global brands to represent them to engage and sell to customers, or to train their internal teams. Sales is at the very heart of what field marketing agencies do, and it is our job to do it well.
Our partners have shared their approach to sales training and provide some insight to the strategies and techniques they rigorously apply to ensure that they are powering performance and delivering results, time and again, for their clients.
We have highlighted 8 points that carve out our best practice approach to sales training.
Start with the right people
Although it may sound clichéd to say, hiring the right people is the first critical step to success. All our partners focus on this as the primary starting point. Our Irish partners, FMI have termed this “People Power”, and in Romania our partners, G7, view this as the first step to good training. In Romania they look for people who are outgoing and bold enough to approach and talk to people, are personally motivated to achieve results and are always striving to improve their previous sales numbers. They need to be able to work autonomously and not be biased about certain products and/or brands. Both our partners, PSfm in the Netherlands, and PPM Factum in the Czech Republic, value personal motivation as one of the key criteria that they look for in their employees. In the Nordic our partner Gorm Larsen Nordic uses a digital platform called MatchMate for promoters self-assessment, thereby they can match promoters with preferred client profiles. All profiles of promoters are stored anonymized (GDPR compliant) so that applying promoters can be benchmarked against top performing current promoters.
The main factor behind employing the right people is to find someone who is willing to try, and eager to improve. If they have those two qualities, the sales training provided can help them to become confident and convincing about what they are selling to customers.
Accessibility– Online and in Person
Given the national locations that our partners service, it is essential that they are able to scale and deliver the sales training in the most cost effective and accessible format. This means doing training both in person and online.
Our German partners, HTW/0, use an Online Academy that informs sales employees about the product and tests them on their knowledge. In order to ensure that the employee fully knows about the product and has a high level of knowledge, he / she must achieve at least 80% in the first test on product knowledge in order to move on to the next, higher level, test, otherwise, they must repeat the first test until they have achieved this required result. In Germany both face-to-face and online sales training is provided. The web-based training involves the trainer explaining the products and/or services, and how to sell them. This is highly useful as it allows employees to ask questions on certain aspects of the products and/or services that they may not have fully understood, and to ask further questions about selling them.
Similar training practices are also utilised by our partners in the UK, Romania, Spain, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. In the Czech Republic, trainees attend their Promo Academy, where they learn about the brand (their philosophy, and general information that is of use), experience workshops, undergo on-the-job training and obtain a certificate once they have completed the academy. During a campaign for an electrical company, after 200 Promo days, it was found that those who had attended the Promo Academy sold almost 30% more products than those who did not attend.
Our Dutch partners, in collaboration with Samsung, have set up the Samsung Campus which is dedicated to sales training. Attendees participate in six modules that teach them, among others, commercial skills, the value of motivation boosters, the importance of customer experience, how to cross and up-sell as well as many more skills, to ensure that they are fully prepared before they have to sell to customers. The campus programme comes with a certificate of recognition for them having taken part in the programme and having completed it.
With our partner, Grupo A, in Spain, training occurs via a very comprehensive online platform and pre-face sales training. They also provide specialised informal training, vocational training, occupational training and technical training. Technical training involves complementing the training on the product and/or service aspect, alongside specific training courses in neuro-linguistics programming sales techniques. They provide a variety of training methods and have two large dedicated venues that can facilitate up to 60 people, with the most advanced technology, highlighting the importance of training and demonstrating that the training can be delivered in many different ways. The Spanish have been working with Diageo in this way for the last 2 years driving their sales training and job placements.
Our UK partners, FSS, also run bespoke workshops for their clients, and use a platform called “Insights”, which is an advanced diagnostic profiling tool, that helps guide the training and helps them achieve results.
Knowledge is power
Although it may seem obvious, it is essential that your employees know the specifics of the product or service they are trying to sell to customers. The detailed knowledge automatically makes them more confident and allows them to speak with more authority on the subject. All our partners provide hands-on workshops where they demonstrate the products, and fully brief employees on the product attributes. Our German partners also train employees on product attributes via the web, where a trainer goes through each product and explains what they are and how they are used. Participants are then tested online about the products to determine their knowledge level.
All of these methods are designed to ensure that your employees are subject experts, enabling them to answer customers' questions and confidently sell the benefits of the products to the customers.
Role -play diversification
As part of the training, role-play is a fantastic tool to simulate a variety of sales situations with your employees. All our partners utilise role-play to train their teams. Not only does it allow employees to help train each other, it creates an opportunity for them to learn from unscripted situations. Our Dutch partners ensure that employees undertake modules that comprise of a role-playing aspect which exposes them to learning how to approach customers, how to acknowledge different customers, how to identify the customer’s needs and how to deal with complaints or aggressiveness from customers. By exposing employees to these situations before they complete their training is important so that they fully understand what it is they have to do and the best way of achieving it.
Cross and Up-Sell
The ability to cross and up-sell is a subtle yet fundamental sales skill. Cross-selling involves selling a different product or service to customers, whereas up-selling involves persuading customers to buy a more superior product or service than what they initially requested. These are great ways of generating more money from customers who are already engaged with the product or service. The Czech, Irish and German partners ensure that during their in-store training employees are taught about the products and how to effectively cross- and up-sell products. This in-person training allows employees the opportunity to practice these techniques to ensure that they are doing them correctly. Teaching employees how to cross- and up-sell also takes place in the Netherlands. As part of the six modules at the Samsung Campus, employees learn how to cross- and up-sell products and/or services to customers, and learn about the importance of this technique in generating sales.
Know Your Customer
Although it is extremely important that you train and teach your employees about the products and/or services, how to handle various situations with customers, methods of selling and more, it is also important that you train your field sales employees in identifying the target audience at which the product and/or service is directed, and what the needs of the customer are. This is viewed as an important aspect of field sales across Europe, particularly for our partners in Romania, Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands.
Our partners in Ireland utilise a customer- needs - based - model called ACQUIRE. This is a bespoke model that was specifically designed for FMI, placing the emphasis on what the customer needs and values, making them the most important aspect of the sale, rather than the focus being on the sale itself. ACQUIRE helps field sales employees learn and understand how to acknowledge customers, how to identify the needs of the customer in order to promote and sell the product or service, and thereby add relevant value to the customer and introduce a solution. The final two techniques allow the field sales employee to inform the customer how the product or service will improve their user experience by showing them how the product or service matches their needs.
Similarly our UK partners believe that you are only able to effectively influence a customer to buy a product or service if you understand what they value and need.
As with all the work and campaigns our partners undertake, measuring and reporting on the results is critical in determining success. To determine whether the training is successful and sales are being achieved, it is essential that you measure the results. All our partners measure results, some use different methods of measuring. In the Czech Republic they use advanced technology and online tracking systems to ensure the effective tracking of results and there is good regular communication between teams. In Germany, results are measured at certain time intervals to evaluate and determine key performance indicators of their employees. In the Netherlands, measuring employee performance helps determine whether the training methods are successful and how well they are doing at converting sales. This helps identify which employees may need extra training and to identify aspects that can be improved upon in employee training.
Plan of Action
Although your employees will be fully trained in how to sell the products and/or services to customers, it is important that you create an action plan and a set of goals setting out what you want them to achieve. The Czech Partners along with both the UK and the Netherlands preference this approach. In the UK the first step to field marketing is creating a plan and preparing for implementation of the plan. Additionally, in the Netherlands, they carry out transparent planning so that everyone understands what is being asked of them. In the Czech Republic they create their action plan based around their 4 pillars: a strong agency, suitable promoters, experienced training staff and a motivation system. Therefore, creating a plan provides clear objectives and goals for both your client and employees.
The success of field marketing campaigns is that they seamlessly represent and train companies to interact and engage with consumers in a personal manner, and help form meaningful relationships between the company and consumer in a way that drives sales and delivers results. Although each of our partners is the leading expert in their respective jurisdiction throughout Europe, they share many commonalities in their passion, dedication and firm commitment as to how they approach sales training in order to power performance.
By following some of the tried and tested tips above you can be sure that your team is best placed to effectively and efficiently achieve great results. The EFMP have expert partners in over 17 European countries. If you require help with your sales training contact our EFMP partner in your country.