Sales Training That Sticks for Technology Resellers

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

Sales consulting experts recommend targeting CEOs and taking a consultative approach to sales during tough economic times. Here's how one technology solution provider reseller created a sales training program to teach his staff the secrets to this approach.

How do you sell when your clients are cutting their budgets? How do you build the kinds of relationships that make clients loyal?

Larry Hedin, vice president of sales and marketing at Heartland Technology Solutions, believes he knows the answer. He wanted his team to move toward a more "consultative" approach towards selling—establishing relationships with executive management at customer companies.

That's the approach that so many sales experts recommend taking to succeed during the current recession. Account executives must get meetings with the most senior management. They must truly own the trusted adviser role.

But delivering that message to your sales staff is one thing. Infusing it into the way they approach their jobs—into their very beings over the long term—is a much bigger challenge. Hedin had grown tired of the daylong sales "boot camp" workshops that left his salespeople inspired for a few weeks but didn't have a lasting effect. And those quick-fix workshops also took his account executives away from their jobs for a day or more.

"You can't train in a day," says Hedin. "You can't buy a set of CDs that will untrain 10 years' worth of experience doing it the other way."

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Hedin wanted something very specific for his team.

In early 2008, "I wanted my team to move towards a consultative approach and towards having relationships with executive management," Hedin says. "People were selling and the numbers were coming in, but I wondered how quickly that would change if the economy changed."

Hedin's desire then for a different kind of sales training put him on a path to creating custom training to suit his company's needs with the help of KLA Group, a sales consulting and training organization that specializes in the IT space.

"When we assessed the salespeople on Larry [Hedin]'s team of 14, there were three that were selling the way Larry wanted them to sell," says Kendra Lee, KLA Group president. "Larry was looking for behavior change." Hedin and Lee recounted their efforts at Ingram Micro's VTN (VentureTech Network) conference in Orlando, Fla.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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