Well, today I want to revisit some work that I did a lot of years ago when I was head of the training department for Pitney Bowes. We trained over 100 new sales people year at PB and ran courses for initial selling skills 10 or 12 times a year, the numbers varied from 12 to 18 in each intake. The course would last for two weeks, the first week being about product knowledge, technical knowledge, customer knowledge, in fact all kinds of knowledge. The second week was about selling skills. The selling skills element was about all the usual things how to prepare. how to approach a potential customer, the skill involved in questioning to discover needs. The next elements were the easy bit in designing and presenting solutions and finding a price that the client is willing to pay and then asking for the order, or closing the deal if you like. There is no such thing as the standard sale and each customer is entitled to their own concerns, therefore handling these concerns, or ‘objections’ as the sales manual puts it is essential.
At the end of the course the salespeople were pretty well pumped up, they had just done their final role-play and always got the deal, so their confidence was sky-high. It was my job at the end of the course to give them an hour of a wrap up session designed to take them to even higher levels of confidence. I would talk about things like the numbers game, various approaches to customers, having fun in the field and anything else that I could think of that would make them feel good about doing their job. There was one part of the presentation that was particularly effective and that sticks in most people’s memories when I see them today and that was a piece that I did about the relative value of skill, knowledge and attitude.
The basic premise of this presentation is that a numeric value can be assigned to each of the three elements, skill, knowledge and attitude and that if you are aware of the value of each you can be in control of every sale and you can achieve fantastic success in selling. The maximum value that I assigned to each element is as follows:
Skill – 5, Knowledge – 5, Attitude (because we all know that attitude is the most important element) – 10
So 5+5+10 = 20 gives you sell success?
Well not exactly! That’s because you need 100% to be sure of success and twenty is a smaller number. Rather the sum works like this: the 5+5×10 = 100 and this gives you the 100% chance of success.
It’s a very simple, and allows a lot of different angles just by playing around with the numbers, if you are low on skill and knowledge, but high on attitude you still have a better chance of success than if it were the other way around. Let me demonstrate:
If Skill = 1,+ Knowledge = 1, x Attitude = 10 this gives you a 20% chance of success.
Skill = 5 + Knowledge = 5 x Attitude = 1 Only gives you a 10% chance of success.
Okay, I hear the more discerning and scientific of you ask, ‘What research has got into the numbers?” The answer is of course none whatsoever and if the doing the sum raises confidence and helps the new salesperson who hasn’t yet mastered the skills and knowledge to go into a selling situation with a good attitude, does it matter?
The true formula without any numbers is this:
Skill + Knowledge x Attitude = Winning behaviour.
Winning Behaviour is what it delivers!
So how much do you invest in creating a winning attitude? Sales trainers are usually good at teaching skills and knowledge, knowledge can be taken from a book from a computer screen or from your phone, or your iPad, skills develop with practice, attitude takes a bit longer and yet it is the most important element.
The reason why sales coaching is so important and why I emphasise coaching so much on my website and why being able to coach is so important to sales managers is because coaching is the only thing that helps to develop a winning attitude. Once the salesperson has found his/her motivation and they develop the right attitude it is easy to create sales success.