Custom Sales Training Program from KLA Group

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.


To make that sales behavior change happen, Hedin and Lee created a custom training program. Hedin says he solicited and got much of the funding for the program—90 percent—from his vendors.

The program went like this: Each two-week period would kick off with a training session for the group conducted by KLA via phone. Account executives would receive the session materials ahead of time. In the two weeks that followed, account executives would put their lessons into practice during their day-to-day sales calls. In addition, they would submit homework and get one-on-one coaching. They would also report back to the facilitators of the training on their results.

Typical training session topics included consultative selling, relationship selling and lead generation. Account executives would be asked questions such as, "How do you gain access to a top executive?" "What discussion are you going to have to secure that first appointment?" and, "Once you get in the door, what are you going to do?" Facilitators would coach the account executives on their approaches.

"So the training was live, as sales processes were going on," Hedin says.

Hedin and Lee ran the training for six months, from May 2008 through November 2008. After three months they did midterm assessments on the sales team, and they did another round of assessments at the completion of the course.

At midterm, Lee reports that the account executives said their level of comfort and skill with consultative selling to CEOs had increased by 30 percent, and by the end of the course their level of comfort had increased by 90 percent.

At midterm their level of comfort with getting in the door had increased by 26 percent, and by the end of the course it had increased by 130 percent.

"Our salespeople now have more executive relationships," says Hedin. "They know what makes an executive perk up and listen to them." In addition, according to Hedin, they prospect differently, reaching deeper into client accounts. And that's made all the difference now that the economic downturn is here.

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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