The focus of this month’s issue is sales and customer service
An area of vital importance to organisations everywhere and one that should be equally close to the heart of L&D practitioners
Customer service training seems to sit comfortably within the remit of most L&D departments but it seems, and I am happy to be corrected if this is not the case in your organisation, that sales training seems somewhat detached from mainstream L&D practice, with either specialist sales trainers being ‘embedded’ within the sales function or with external expertise being brought in to solve problems. So why is there this disconnect?
Could some of it be caused by the way sales people are often perceived. Around 150 years ago the Society of Commercial Travelers noted that: “If we do not strive for the professional respect accorded to other occupations of substance and worth, then the world shall judge us as no better than peddlers and rogues.” So are salesmen the just fast-talking, adventurers out for their own gain as so vividly depicted in films like Glengarry Glen Ross and The Wolf of Wall Street?
Since Enron and the financial crisis of 2008, the levels of unethical behaviour and mis-selling uncovered in some of our most trusted institutions has been staggering – and many are still paying the price. If you factor into the equation the speed with which the world is changing, the need for change in sales practice has never been greater.
Change is being driven by a number of drivers: the rise in technology-driven, buyer-led control is leading to greater emphasis on ethics and the move by customers to evaluate products not by what they do but by the experience the customers have in the purchase of those products. The marketplace is transforming and growing at a vast rate. Between 2016 and 2020, up to five billion new consumers will come online and provide a massive increase in the world economy. It begs the question, what are you going to sell to them and how will they compete with you?
Much like all our people these days, sales teams need to be learning agile and move away from the content-led scripted process that has dominated sales training for 50 years. We all know that giving people the ability to think for themselves is more important than telling them how to think and act. In todays’ organisations, existence depends on how receptive to change our people are, their levels of curiosity and flexibility in overcoming problems and achieving objectives.
We have to move away from sales training to sales education that is designed to encourage reflective practitioners.
Debbie Carter, Editor