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Liz Walz, Columnist
April 1, 2014
Filed under Columns

I have a confession to make. I grew up discriminating against salespeople. Our family consisted of health care workers, engineers and scientists, so it was easy to throw salespeople under the bus. I didn’t know any. And the movies, books and television shows that featured them weren’t very kind.

Salespeople were always trying to sell you something you didn’t need or want, I thought. They cared more about themselves and their wallet than their customers. I didn’t trust them, and I certainly didn’t want their help.

Then, I married one. And I was forced to rethink the stereotype. My husband is not loud or pushy. One of his strengths is his sincerity. He’s a great listener. He is successful largely because he DOES care about his customers, who happen to be doctors, hospitals and pain clinics. He’ll go to incredible lengths to make sure they have what they need to take care of their patients.

Of course, I also had a chance to get to know many of you. I came to admire your passion for sharing the boating experience with your customers and your dedication to your employees and their families. I figured out that sales and service are the backbone of this industry – heck, the U.S. economy. It’s kind of like the chicken and egg debate. I’m not sure which one comes first (sales or service), but they both are undeniably key to our success.

My impression of salespeople changed once again when I became one. My first role when I joined the staff of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas was Director of Membership, and my No. 1 responsibility was to sell memberships.

I realized that being great at sales isn’t something that’s in the genes. It requires a huge amount of resilience, hard work, creativity, adaptability and training.

How we stay in top sales form varies a lot from one marine business to another. But if you’re serious about maximizing the effectiveness of sales training, you need to make it a part of your culture, not just an activity that fills time during the slow season. It should be accessible to the salesperson when they need it, how they need it, in bite-size chunks that allow them to use it all year round.

Because of that need, we now see that offering sales training and resources is one of the most important ways MRAA can serve our members and the entire boating business. That’s why we’ve partnered with sales, leadership, customer loyalty and personal development guru Jeffrey Gitomer to offer you the MRAA Interactive Virtual Training System.

We don’t know of any other sales experts who can match the wealth of training resources that Jeffrey Gitomer brings to the table. With more than 297 online modules, 29 in-depth webinars, 5 introductory modules, 4 bonus modules and a new Power Lesson every week, there is enough training material to keep even the most dedicated student busy for years. And it’s not just sales training. With dozens of personal development and customer loyalty modules, this is truly a tool for the entire company, from the front office to the management team, from the service adviser to the sales team.

Secondly, the modules are available virtually, which means on demand. Your team can train 24/7/365 on their PC, tablet and smartphone, and receive updates regarding new content in real time. Plus, the virtual format is much more engaging for most employees than reading a book or listening to a CD.

A third advantage is that the MRAA Interactive Virtual Training System provides companies with tools to track its employees training, assign training in areas of focus that make sense for each employee and monitor their performance on the multiple choice questions that follow each module.

Finally, the MRAA is committed to being your guide to this wealth of sales knowledge. To begin, we’ve created training recommendations for you in eight topic areas that have the biggest impact on the success of marine businesses like yours, including how to Get Motivated, Generate More Prospects, Set Yourself Apart, Ask the Right Questions, Get Away from Price, Overcome Barriers and Objections, Earn the Sale (Aka Closing), and Keep Them Coming Back. And we have plans to introduce new recommendations throughout the year. Learn more at www.mraa.com/virtualtraining.

Liz Walz is director of education for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. To learn more, visit www.mraa.com or email her at liz@mraa.com.

 

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