Is customer experience training critical to outstanding sales performance?

9th May 2017

Most sales performance goals focus on metrics like lead conversion rates, time to deal close and revenue generated. And, most sales training programmes are designed around helping reps achieve these benchmarks.

However, if that’s the extent of your sales training programme, you could be missing the most critical “last mile” factor in sales success: customer experience. Ensuring an outstanding customer experience, both during and after the sale, is crucial for growing brand awareness and market share. After all, getting your customers to buy, only to walk away feeling unsatisfied or taken advantage of after the fact is not a “win” whatsoever.

That’s why incorporating customer experience into the sales training regimen is a must for any organisation that wants to not just close deals, but build a legacy of outstanding performance.

The problem is, most organisations don’t adequately train for customer experience, leaving reps to figure it out as they go along, and likely creating an inconsistent experience, at best.

Instead, high-performance sales organisations should make the customer experience a priority in their training programmes in order to drive consistent success. Here are four reasons why, and what you can do to incorporate this critical factor into your training regimen.

  • To demonstrate product expertise. Your customers look to your sales reps as experts in how your product will help them achieve their business goals. But quite often, the product development and upgrade lifecycle works so quickly that reps don’t have time to adequately train on new products or features, leaving gaps in their expertise that customers will soon discover. This could cause a potential blowback, bringing the sale to a halt or resulting in an unsatisfied customer after the deal is done. To avoid this, implement a dynamic training programme in which reps must achieve and maintain product certification in order to sell the product. Without certification, reps are ineligible to earn a commission on the sale.
  • To ensure a consistent experience. Of course, each rep will have his or her own natural qualities and characteristics that will differentiate their style of interaction with customers. However, to the extent that every one of your customers should enjoy a comprehensive, satisfactory experience, reps must be trained on your company’s specific sales techniques and process. Incorporate customer-centric training modules into your programme and clearly communicate to reps why these techniques are part of the standard process and why they’re critical to success. This way, they understand the drivers behind the process and are more likely to actually employ those habits rather than just complete the training to check the box and continue to do their own thing. It also ensures that, in the event a rep leaves and is replaced, those customers will experience a relatively seamless transition and consistent experience.
  • To build better relationships internally and externally. Incorporating customer experience into training not only improves the long-term relationship between your company and its customers but it can also improve internal relationships between sales leaders and their teams. Successful customer-centric sales programmes require leaders to become better coaches, providing real-time feedback, insight and assistance to reps as part of the sales cycle. This ensures that reps get the just-in-time support they need to deliver an outstanding customer experience and stay on track with conventional sales metrics before a major problem arises.
  • To maximise training efficiency. Focusing on customer experience means that your sale reps should be spending the most time as possible interacting with customers, rather than enduring hourslong sales training events. While the days of retreat-style events lasting several days are mostly being replaced with on-demand, online training modules, even those must be made as efficient as possible. To keep reps spending more time in the field and less time in training while also maximising training retention, implement module delivery into the sales workflow and produce short, easily consumed modules. This ensures reps get the appropriate training at the perfect time in the customer nurturing process in order to implement the new skills immediately. As the adage goes, “use it or lose it,” and this real-time application aids in retention and solidifies any behavioral changes/improvements the training is intended for.

While it might seem harder to measure improvements in customer experience relative to conversions, deal close and margins, creating a more customer-centric sales training programme will actually have the net effect of naturally improving those quantifiable metrics. By embedding techniques that create a positive customer experience throughout the sales cycle across all sales training modules, reps can leverage those skills to foster customer satisfaction and loyalty through every interaction.

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