As you'd expect in the computer industry, where change is the dominating force, sales training shops have to move with the timesTo keep up with the continual shift in style and attitude of sales people, providers of sales training courses are continually modifying the techniques and skills required to meet the changing market. Vic French, senior consultant from Alcurin (formerly Esprit), promotes a course designed to help people cope with this constant change. "There are a lot of people trying to cope in a rapidly changing environment, particularly where the channel sales team has changed. Systems integrators face the dilemma where on one side there is an increased complexity of components making up the solutions, while on the other side customers are expecting integrated solutions.
"With more technology and more individual vendors providing technically efficient products it means that whoever chooses to sell those products has a much higher expectation placed on them by the customer in their ability to sell them and understand them."
A typical sales person in the distribution channel needs to be able to work with partners, work with vendors and other, sometimes competitive, companies to provide solutions to their customers.
"By bringing these two things together there's a need to create sales teams with specialist resources, and managing this type of sales team is very difficult," says French.
With the pressure on price and maintaining margins, the way they sell involves bringing more than one person to the table. When you start to do this you bring the human element into managing sales teams and managing trust between partners.
"People leading a sales team need to have a high level of business acumen. They need to be able to get up the food chain, higher in the customer's organisation and bring business value to the executives. They need to understand more about politics and the informal decision process in the customer's organisation. They need to be team leaders because they need to be able to manage a group of people involved in a sales campaign. Finally, they have to think strategically rather than tactically in order to manage a longer sales cycle," says French.
What's new for a lot of resellers is learning the ability to sell integrated systems that are vital to a customer's business. "They start to get into things like risk analysis and making sure that what they sell works. By understanding the business value of these solutions and the people they are selling to, it generally improves the whole approach.
"It's not just going beyond box selling, it's going beyond solution selling to being able to contribute to the performance of their customer's business." The course, promoted and provided by Alcurin, comes from a US company, Target Marketing Systems, and is called Target Account Selling.
Alcurin has already conducted thirty workshops in twelve months. Many of the programs are a selection of skills programs which, French claims, underpin the sales process. Target Account Selling comes in three stages at around $500 per person per day. The first three-day program, Advanced Strategies, gets the process implemented. It provides a practical and systematic approach for managing complex, high value sales campaigns, according to Alcurin's sales blurb.
Attendees will learn how to qualify opportunities from a product, business, political and competitive point of view. Also, they will learn how to approach prospects with a view to gaining access to the influential executives in the customer's organisation, Alcurin claims.
The second part of the sales program brings the sales managers in for a day of Managing Target Account Selling. In this session Alcurin coaches the manager on how to reinforce the techniques of the Target Account Selling process in the sales team.
Later Alcurin encourages the key account managers to attend a two-day program called Executive Selling. This teaches them how to penetrate the target organisation with high-level executive presentations and to make contact and conduct an executive sales call.
The final phase is Managing the Target Account which is designed to manage the whole process. "Managing the process is not just a training program, it's a process which helps the sales company implement the ability to control a complex sales campaign," adds French.