Have you had your deal closing rate down recently by double-digit percent with no major shifts in the niche to cause the drop? Is your market share dropping for reasons unbeknownst to you? Are your competitors getting their hands on your loyal clients with higher rates and overall worse conditions?
It’s time to consider choosing negotiation skills training for your sales team.
As with everything in life and business, there are a plethora of options when it comes to the assortment of courses aimed to polish your team’s mediation mastery. Here are the aspects you need to pay attention to in order to get the highest ROI on this much-needed investment.
Do I need to pay all that money for training?
The answer is “yes, you do” if:
You are in B2B business and rely on your sales team to close the deals
By the end of 2020, so many B2C sales had shifted to digital that salespeople seem to be a dying species.
B2B is still holding strong though, and a good salesperson in this segment is worth a little fortune. If you still rely on your sales team to close deals for you and their role has not been reduced to mere passive call-takers by the digital, sending them on a course is the best investment for your bottom-line.
If your average check is $1000+
Even if you trade in the B2C but your average check is rather high, like 1K+, sales training will do wonders for your profitability.
If your win rate is dropping with no outside reasons for it
Unless you’re a startup, you will have had a history of sales performance to compare to. Ideally, you will be able to sign up for the market data as well – an anonymous report that tells you how big a share of the market your company is getting.
Keep an eye on the win rate: the proportion of leads coming into the prospects who turn into clients.
If your trends tell you that your market share is going down and there are no outside reasons for it, it’s time to: replace your director of sales and/or get your team on a course to perfect the art of sales negotiation.
Why train your sales team in the art of negotiation?
To improve your win rate
You try so hard to get all those people to get to know your brand enough to as much as click on that ad and visit a site.
Then you come up with a killer offer that leaves you with almost no gain at all only to get them signed up to your newsletter.
Then you spend all that time further nurturing your relationship through email sequence so they finally become your prospects.
And it’s such a pity to see this next stage of the funnel losing so many warm leads over an incompetent sales department.
Boosting your win rate is crucial, as it’s so far down the funnel, you know they need the product or service. So, they will buy it with you or your competitors.
To strengthen team spirit
Any type of educational activity does wonders for team spirit. Even more so, if they get to have a fun time with each other and you spare some money for some sorts of entertainment at night, when the classes are over.
To sew the seeds of healthy competition
Salespeople are mostly competitive. This is not a stereotype. This is an ideal situation if you did your sales recruitment part of the job right.
The truth is: you don’t want a person on your team, who doesn’t care to be the best for his clients, his family, his employer. A good sales training will have elements and techniques to spur that healthy competition and nurture the winning spirit in members.
To get ahead of the competition
There are a few advantages you can gain as a business, that will give you a competitive edge over your rivals. A trained sales team is one of the most hard-core weapons in such an arsenal.
We have all been in the position when we decide which coffee shop we get our daily coffee from. In most cases, we end up buying a coffee from the barista we love most, whatever the brew, whatever the cookies, whatever the ambiance of the place.
To take advantage of the snowball effect
Whatever business steps you take, in the best-case scenario its effects will grow exponentially. Similarly, this is how you want your sales training efficiency to evolve and embody itself. Your business gradually gets:
- More clients
- More reviews & word of mouth coming from new clients
- Better purchasing rate as you can buy more now
- Better conditions for your clients & / or higher margins
- More funds to invest in a business
- Adopt new technology and bring your business to a new level
- Head start into new levels of efficiency, breaking away from the rest of the competition.
This is just one of the possible scenarios of how one action can cause a string of more positive outcomes.
How to choose a negotiation skills training course:
Approximate your maximum budget for the training
As much as you may appreciate the burning necessity for your sales team to gain all the knowledge a negotiation skills workshop will bring, budget restraints are real for many businesses out there.
Keep in mind the following two tips from Nimble:
Not all that glitters is gold:
The high price does not mean high-quality content and the low price doesn’t mean the content is not worth the time.
[OK, this is not just Nimble, but a collaboration with Shakespeare, to be honest.]
“What if we pay for the training and they leave” old wise adage:
An HR manager once saw the hefty price for the training, that business owner ordered for staff and asked:
“What if we pay for the course and they leave?”
The boss replied:
“I am more concerned if we don’t pay for the course and they stay.”
Know the type of course you want for your team
There are online courses and offline ones. There are recorded sessions and live instructor-led webinars. There exist courses by Institutes and by practicing authority in the field. There are free and paid-for courses. Some of them will fit your bill better than others depending on the budget, time restraints, goals.
Consider A/B testing the efficiency of the training
OK, say you have a big team. You know you need training for all but at this moment you can afford to only do it for half of the team.
You can either use the training as the reward for the winning team in a quarter to some sales contest [the teams have to be split pretty much evenly in terms of veterans and rookies].
Alternatively, you can also just do a random draw for the training between the teams. Then compare the results and trajectory of closing deals rate for both teams before and after the training.
This way you will know the efficiency of the training and possibly you will be in a position to even calculate ROI on this investment then.
So you will be using the second part of your sales team as a placebo group. The main thing is to let them know it’s down to budget restrictions and that the education is planned in half a year for them too.
Ask for a team discount
Unless we are talking about free or barter training, there’s always space for a discount in any business. If you have as many as 5+ people to train, it’s OK to ask for a discount based on volume.
Ask for a team rate, mentioning the detrimental impact of COVID on your budgets and stress you are willing to later provide any review on any channel. One per student.
Follow recommendations of professionals you trust
Have you heard about a real efficient one-day training camp for sales from a person whose opinion you value? By all means, this is the best way to be introduced to a product and add it right to the shortlist of your potential finalist training.
Criteria to take into account while choosing a course on negotiation skills
Quality of negotiation skills training materials & curriculum
It’s vital to estimate the quality of the curriculum and training materials before you pay for the team to take the training.
However experienced you might be in sales, you should find something new in the suggested educational content. This is a good sign, that the program is up to date and is revisited as trends and methods change.
When creating a shortlist of courses for your team, make sure you have a side-by-side comparison of the curriculums.
The ratio of theory to practice for the team
Having a lot of webinars recorded is all good, but having an instructor-observed part where teams practice the skills is essential.
Ensure the practical part is there and your team gets a lot of exercises to polish the techniques covered in the course.
Genuine reviews of people with LinkedIn profiles
It’s easy to put a section on your site with Mr. Roger Smith recommending the best course out there on negotiation skills.
It’s somewhat tougher to get industry professionals recommending a course on their LinkedIn page or doing a video recommendation on the website promoting the course. This kind of genuine review from industry authority adds credibility and weight to the product.
Lots of user cases from life
Some courses may be too ridden with theory and have little practical meat on those bones.
Make sure that the speaker and lecturer have sufficient practical background to speak about real-life cases, that students can draw conclusions from and learn from.
Sales expertise of the speaker
The figure of the course author is proportional to the value of the course. Has the lecturer had extensive experience in the sales field? Which companies did the speaker or author work for? What clients did s/he bring onboard during the tenure? What is the biggest deal won in the career of this person?
You have to make sure, that the person conducting the negotiation skills training is not a walking embodiment of the proverb:
“Those who can, do, those who can’t, teach”.
Vice versa, such a person has to be the exception to this rule. Then and then only, the course attendance will bring the ROI you are looking to get.
Set negotiation skills training objectives
Both you and the team must be aware of what it is you are looking to gain after the training. Set clear objectives you expect your sales to achieve with all that knowledge, so they try and direct their attention towards this goal during and after the course.
Negotiation skills training free and paid for examples:
These are some of the courses out there that we found worthwhile to check out:
- Free Coursera course by University of Michigan: Successful Negotiation
- Negotiation Skills: strategies for increased efficiencies
- Negotiating for value creation
- Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and skills
- Virtual and Face-to-face negotiation + influencing courses
- Strategic Negotiations skills: demo by NH Learning Group
Nimble CRM: the other tool to boost your sales efficiency
Once you start wondering how to improve negotiation skills for your sales team, you open your business to a top league game.
Those who care to invest in tools to multiply the potential of the human capital on your team will ultimately lead the game.
Tools can be educational, like the course on polishing the art of negotiation. Or they can be technological, like a customer relationship management system. Nimble is one of the best CRM tools according to Capterra with 1500+ positive reviews.
But the best thing sales love about Nimble is Prospector extension. Check out how easy prospecting is with this extension.