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Six Tips to Nail Your Sales Position Interview

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Interviewing for your dream sales position is no different than making a sales call. Remember that you are your product, and you are making the pitch. Here are six tips to help you close the deal:

1. Dress for the Occasion

You get only one chance to make a first impression, or so the saying goes. It turns out this saying has scientific proof behind it. A study the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology published may surprise you. It found that interviewers take 15 minutes to cut a candidate. What can a candidate do to make a good impression in those 15 minutes? Show up to your interview well groomed and well dressed. Your clothes don’t need to be expensive, but they need to be clean and pressed.

2. Do Your Research

To be a successful salesperson, you need to know your customers’ needs. Before your interview, research the market for your industry. Read industry blogs and study the key players. Do background research about the company with which you are interviewing. You should know the product or service it sells and its customers. Educate yourself about the company’s competition. How does this company measure up against the competition?

3. Show Your Work

You are a salesperson. Now is the time to sell yourself. How was your performance at your previous position? You should have your previous sales numbers ready to show your interviewer. Hiring managers want evidence that you are great at your job. Specific numbers are more impressive than general self-praise.

4. Any Questions?

When the interview is over, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. It is a grave mistake to say no. This is the time to signal your interest in the position. Prepare a list of questions for the interviewer while researching the company. Your questions should demonstrate that you have done your homework. Make sure your questions include asking about the type of employee the company wants to hire. This creates yet another opportunity to sell yourself.

5. Ask for the Job

Interviewees may talk about their qualifications so much they forget to say they want the job. Remember, this is a sales position. Now is the time to close the deal. Make sure not to pressure your interviewer – you should never ask if you’re hired. Let the interviewer know you want the job by asking about your next steps.

6. Follow Up

Old advice tells us we should send a hand-written thank you note after the interview. That’s good advice, but we live in the digital age. Write the note if you must, but you should also write an email to your interviewer. This shows that you want the job and keeps you on your interviewer’s radar. Don’t just sit at your desk waiting for a response. You are a salesperson – go chase that sale.

Making Workplace Conflict Work for Your Team

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Workplace conflicts arise often. It’s important to know how to handle them and to recognize the opportunities within them. It’s easy to work past a conflict and then pretend nothing ever happened, but you may be missing valuable opportunities to fine tune your employees’ communication skills and grow your business.

Identify the Conflict

First, you need to know the source of the disruption. Workplace conflicts happen between employees and their superiors, between coworkers, and between employees and customers. The final type requires the most careful attention: you need to be able to defuse a conflict without alienating anyone. One of the golden rules of salesmanship is that it’s okay to lose a sale but not a customer.

Gain an understanding of the situation – often you’ll find that you can defuse a conflict easily if it arose from miscommunication or a small discrepancy.

Pinpoint the Cause

In the sales industry, conflicts arise most often from miscommunication. The wording of a return policy or product specification is ambiguous, an employee misspoke, or something else was lost in translation. It’s important to recognize what type of conflict is happening, but it’s more important to acknowledge why it happened.

When customers complain, they can sometimes pinpoint issues within your business you may have overlooked. Although this is frustrating, ultimately these situations are good things for both the company and its customers. Once you identify the source of a conflict, you can remedy the situation so the customer leaves happy and willing to return, and then you can address the underlying issue to prevent future occurrences.

Ask for Solutions

When two parties butt heads, one of your first steps to resolving the issue should be to ask each party what they want to see happen. When it comes to arguments or disagreements between employees, sitting down with the employees involved can uncover issues you may have overlooked, and then everyone benefits from mediation.

When you’re dealing with customer conflicts, you’ll typically need to make up for their frustrations in some way. This may come in the form of an extra coupon for a future visit, a one-time discount to make up for their lost time, or another similar measure. It’s important to stand your ground in the face of unreasonable customers, but do so respectfully. Even the most grating and disrespectful customers can be boons to your business if you know how to approach them.

Work Toward a Resolution

Once you’ve identified what’s happening, who is involved, and what each party wants to see happen, you can work toward resolving the conflict. Every situation is different, so you’ll have to use your judgment to determine the best course of action. Once you do, make clear each party’s responsibilities going forward.

Workplace conflicts happen all the time in every industry. It’s important that you approach them with a clear head and calm demeanor. Sometimes you’ll solve more than just the immediate problem, and fix a newly discovered issue you never knew you had.
Sources:
http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/The-Five-Steps-to-Conflict-Resolution.aspx

6 Steps to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace


http://www.learningpeace.com/pages/LP_04.htm
http://www.mediate.com/articles/bermanlj3.cfm
http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/BUS208-5.3.6-Steps-to-Resolve-Workplace-Conflict-FINAL.pdf

How to Manage a Sales Team

Cameron Johnson

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sales managementNo matter how good your product or service is, your sales team is an integral part of getting it into your customers’ hands. For this reason, it is important to make sure that they are given the proper attention. As the sales team manager, it is your job to make sure that they are achieving their goals, but just as importantly, it is your job to make sure that the team’s culture is healthy and that they are receiving the proper training. Below, we go through some practices you can follow to ensure their success:

Monitor performance indicators and make sure they are clear

Your sales team needs a clear picture of exactly what their goals should be. This will help them to focus their efforts and give them a target they can reach for. As time goes on, it can be easy to assume that everyone knows these goals, so it’s a good idea to articulate them regularly to ensure that your entire team is on the same page and working towards the same end. Keep track of these measurables and work with team members who may be struggling in order to help them to reach their goals. While you shouldn’t let underperformance slide, management and other team members should work with them to help them figure out what to do to meet their goals and improve their processes moving forward.

Build a culture that encourages success

Set high expectations from the beginning. People tend to deliver based upon the expectations set upon them, and if you act as though your sales team will perform poorly, chances are that you will be proven right. At the same time, if you set your expectations high, it is likely that they will rise to the occasion.

Creating a strong team culture also involves building relationships between team members. Building a cutthroat environment where team members are always looking to succeed at the expense of each other can be toxic, so encourage a feeling of camaraderie between team members. As your team members become familiar and comfortable with each other, your team’s work processes can become more intuitive and natural, further boosting performance.

Train the troops

Even if you have the best processes laid out for your sales team, they will do you no good if you don’t train the team. This can include everything from small, internal training meetings within your sales team to larger, day-long events. As they work in the same environment day after day, it is easy for salespeople to settle into a rut, which can dull their abilities. Bringing in an outside expert for negotiation training can shake things up and give them new insights on the best sales strategies, honing their instincts and revitalizing their efforts.

Coaching happens every day, not just in formal meetings

Corporate sales training events are a wonderful way to improve your team’s results, but training doesn’t stop there. As a sales team leader, you are responsible for your team’s results every day. While individual coaching opportunities can take time from your already busy schedule, it is worth the investment. Taking time to step aside and work with individual team members will build their confidence, both in their own abilities and in you as a leader, and can help them to feel like a part of a successful team.

Celebrate successes

When your team members achieve something, whether it’s big or small, acknowledge it. Celebrate it! Do this as often as you can, because each little celebration gives the team a boost and motivates them to do better. Recognize the successes that your team members have and reward them.

Some sales managers wait too long between wins to celebrate in order to make the celebrations seem more meaningful. While this makes sense to a degree, waiting too long to celebrate can backfire and make your team members feel underappreciated. When your team has a success, acknowledging that success motivates them to achieve even more the next time.

Your sales team is one of the most public faces of your company, but by putting in a little effort and providing the proper training, you can set them up for success. That will bring positive results for them individually and for your company as a whole.

Creating a Team-Focused Workplace Culture

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Workplace culture is a crucial element of any industry. Most modern employees don’t just show up to work for a paycheck – they want to be valued and see the effects of their work as part of a bigger picture. As a leader, you need to foster a positive workplace culture that resonates with your brand identity and company mission statement.

 

How Workplace Culture Impacts Your Business

In the workplace, employees want to know they aren’t easily replaceable and that their employers value the work they do. Fostering a positive workplace culture isn’t just a side project – it has a direct effect on your company’s bottom line. Employee satisfaction and retention are big parts of why workplace culture matters. Your business is only as strong as your weakest employee, and employees who are invested emotionally in their work are rarely weak.

Know Your Brand

Today’s market demands that you stay relevant in a sea of competition. If you’ve had an idea, chances are your competitors have, too. If you make a misstep, your competition is going to see it and capitalize on your failure. Your brand identity plays a large role in your workplace culture: the image you convey to your customers has to resonate with your employees. You should always strive to be the company whose customers wish they could work for you.

Keep Your Team Involved

Creating a cohesive and progressive workplace culture means valuing the input your employees have. Some employees may hesitate to criticize their employers for fear of job security, so it’s important that you convey that you value honesty – good or bad – for the sake of the company as a whole. Make it clear that you will never meet honest feedback and constructive criticisms made in good faith with reprimands or disciplinary actions.

Always take the time to ask your employees how they feel about the work they do, the processes involved, and if they can think of ways to improve day-to-day operations. Your employees view your workplace differently than you do, so it’s important to try to adopt their perspectives when you conceptualize a workplace culture.

Recognize Value

Part of your workplace culture depends on how your employees interact. Look for groups or pairs of employees who bring out the best in each other’s work, and foster those relationships. You should always be looking for ways to improve your business. Your employees are your best resource for doing that. Teamwork happens when employees know what you expect of them and what roles they play in your brand. Make sure your workers know they’re valued, and that the company’s success depends on their personal success.

 

Sources:

http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/5-ways-to-build-an-extraordinary-team-culture.html
http://www.lctmag.com/operations/article/107639/how-to-create-a-team-focused-culture
http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2013/10/04/how-to-build-a-great-company-culture/#673b42af3ab2
https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/developingandsustaininghigh-performanceworkteams.aspx
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-jim-taylor/build-a-positive-and-high_b_3659341.html

How to Influence Without Being Pushy

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Sometimes leads are already interested before you start your pitch, but how you attempt to influence them will make or break the deal. There’s a big difference between influencing and selling – your audience is less likely to take your words to heart if you come off as pushy, rehearsed, or “salesy.”

When it comes to influencing people, a few key strategies will lead you to more effective interactions with more positive results. Keep the following in mind.

Build Trust

When you have rapport with other people, it’s easier to speak with them. You need to be able to reach people on a personal level while staying professional. Carefully listen to their concerns and address them fully. Try to take your resolution a step beyond what they may expect from you to show them you are acting with their best interests in mind. Find common ground and work from there. You cannot force people to do things. Instead, you should try to persuade them to want what you want.

Focus on Positives

Of course, you want to be able to relate to the other party if you want them to see things your way, but it’s important to stick to your guns while staying positive. Instead of sympathizing with their complaints, get them to focus on the positive aspects of your discussion. Demonstrate value and emphasize how they will benefit from the decision you want them to make.

Speak Naturally

You may work on your speaking technique in private, but it’s important to be prepared without sounding rehearsed. If you want to influence people, the number one way to fail is to to be unprepared and not know what you are trying to say or sound like you’re selling something or reading from a script. Speak as you would in any other conversation (again, remember to stick to your professional boundaries) and be relaxed. Pay close attention to body language – both the other party’s and your own. Don’t come off as rigid, closed-off, or unapproachable. People will be more willing to converse and be influenced if it feels natural.

Generate Enthusiasm

One of the best methods of influencing others to do what you want is to demonstrate what an amazing opportunity they have and make them excited to see it happen. Generating energy and enthusiasm is a great way to get others on board with your vision and get them to see things from your perspective.

Be Adaptable

Your conversation style needs to be flexible – you can’t speak with everyone in the same way, and every interaction has unique factors that you need to consider. This is the biggest reason that maintaining a natural demeanor is important – when you lock yourself into a routine, it becomes much harder to deal with the unexpected. To influence the other party, you need to be on your toes and ready to handle any question or concern they have. .

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your next major conversation. Remember that influencing is all about getting other people to want what you want – not hammering them until they see things your way.

The 3 Ps of Negotiation

Cameron Johnson

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No matter the industry you are in or what you are trying to sell, negotiating is one of the most crucial skills a sales professional has to master. Here at the Shapiro Negotiations Institute, we’ve spent the last twenty years studying and teaching the art of negotiating. As a result, we have developed a systematic approach to the negotiation process:

3ps

For more information about proper negotiation tactics visit our negotiation training page.

 

5 Reasons to Implement Office-Wide Meetings

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Many organizations (particularly smaller ones) may shy away from all-company meetings. They can be rather costly—not to mention time-consuming. You must have the space to gather your employees and the resources to ensure that they all can hear and/or see your content. Larger firms tend to have conferences that are days long, necessitating refreshments too. There are many benefits to meetings of this caliber, however, and it may be something worthwhile for your enterprise.

You Can Reinforce Company Culture

It’s easy to read about business ideas and just as easy to forget them. Bringing employees together lets them experience the firm’s ideals firsthand. Seasoned employees can help newer hires feel welcome and adjust to the company more effectively. Veterans will feel valued when you give them such a purpose and encourage nurturing attitudes, making for a tighter labor force.

You Can Conquer the Disjointedness of Virtual Businesses

As technology becomes more prevalent in our lives, the workforce is changing with it. Many companies have at least a few employees who contribute from home or other remote locations. Office-wide meetings allow them to meet the people they communicate with every day. These in-person interactions make email and other contact more meaningful in the future. Meetings build bonds, and virtual employees often don’t get this opportunity otherwise.

Employees Can Provide Input

Opinions matter, especially when they come from your staff. It’s always beneficial to know how much of the company supports new decisions, whether the decisions are about name changes or new uniforms. When employees can participate, they’ll be more satisfied with the decisions your business makes. More brains gathered together means a higher chance of coming up with new ideas as well. All-company meetings help everyone consider themselves a true part of the endeavor.

Staff Can Feel More Valued

Making the effort to gather people together makes them feel good. It shows that the company cares enough to bring everyone on board instead of just a select few, such as a council. Add bonding exercises and opportunities for their input, and your meeting is even better. Although smaller organizations inherently don’t have as many issues with dehumanizing workers, seeing faces as real people who matter is better for businesses of all sizes.

All-Company Meetings Unify Goals

Town hall meetings put everyone in the company on the same page. You can ensure that each worker is well informed, but more importantly, you can stress your objectives and plans. Employees attending will know what they’re working toward. This often leaves them better equipped and more willing to pull together to accomplish things.

Gathering an entire company is never cheap. It could cost hundreds, thousands, or millions of dollars, depending on the organization’s scale. The investment, however, could completely revamp your employees’ attitudes and make your firm stronger than ever. Cohesion and satisfaction among your workers is definitely worth the cost.

18 Proven Sales Tactics That Work in Any Industry

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Developing a strong sales program is the most critical aspect of any business. Without effective sales strategies, companies will not be able to compete and grow. Sales professionals must learn how to implement proven sales tactics that work.

As a sales team manager, one of your responsibilities is to provide your team with effective sales strategies that will increase your company’s profits. Effective sales processes are not just about working hard and putting in long hours. In fact, many sales teams work long and hard without experiencing results.

sales professional at work

Effective sales strategies involve employing the best strategies in the right situations. Here are 18 sales tactics that can work for sales teams in every industry.

  1. Be persistent with leads and develop the habit of following up with each customer. According to the latest sales research, 80 percent of sales transactions require 5 interactions after the first contact with a customer. Many salespeople are primarily concerned with immediate sales. If they do not get the sale at the first meeting, they silently give up and continue their hunt for the next immediate sale. However, savvy sales professionals understand that they must nurture viable leads until an action is taken. These ‘rock star’ sales professionals send emails, direct mail, make phone calls or send brochures to customers at designated intervals. By taking this action, your customers will think of you when it is time to make their next purchases.
  2. Solve your customers’ problems. Successful businesses thrive in competitive industries because they provide solutions to meet their customers’ needs. There are many sales professionals who do not fully understand their roles in the transaction. Consider this fact. As many as 70 percent of your leads are reaching out to you to solve their problems. When customers contact your sales team, your sales professionals must be able to demonstrate to them how they can quickly and easily solve their problems.
  3. Develop the ability to actively listen to customers. Customers have access to pages of information on the internet. In many instances, they may be as knowledgeable as your sales team. When sales professionals interact with knowledgeable customers, they might be tempted to talk constantly to show them that they are qualified. It is important to remind your salespeople that they should never get into a knowledge power struggle with customers. Sales professionals should always listen more than they talk. They should ask questions that probe into their clients’ thought processes and carefully consider the responses. The goal is to make customers feel as if they are respected throughout the sales process.
  4. Use polite terms when you discuss the competition. Your sales team should always strive to present themselves in a positive light and use professional language. There is nothing that screams unprofessional like using derogatory terms to discuss other people or companies. Although customers may participate in the negative conversation, bad mouthing any person or company is never a good sales tactic. If a competitor does not have a good reputation, the members of your sales team should remain neutral.
  5. Earn your referrals before you ask for them. Sales professionals know that referrals are the proverbial ‘holy grail’ of marketing. In fact, 91 percent of customers will provide a referral contact to a salesperson that they like. Before you think about asking your customers for referrals, you should focus on providing them with a quality customer service experience. During the transaction, your goal is to develop positive relationships with your customers. After you have determined that they are happy with your services, it is a good idea to pursue the referrals. When it comes to soliciting referrals, timing is important.
  6. Ask for referrals from your customers. You might not believe it but only 11 percent of sales professionals ask clients for referrals. According to this data, the majority of salespeople are leaving money on the table. Most customers are generous, and they would happily share your good customer service with friends, family members and colleagues, but you have to ask. If your sales team waits for their customers to initiate a conversation about referrals, it might never happen. Teach your sales team how to integrate referral conversations into the sales process at the appropriate time.
  7. Adhere to strict deadlines with your customers. Sales professionals must create a sense of urgency with customers, or the deals will take much longer than necessary. Changing deadlines according to the whims of each customer makes sales professionals lose credibility. The old adage, where there is a will there is a way, applies here. If customers want to meet the obligations of a transaction by the deadline, they will definitely find a way to make it happen.
  8. Develop relationships with your customers. Without customer relationships, it can seem as if you are always in the vicious cycle of trying to ‘drum up’ new business. Your past customers can be an excellent source of new transactions for years to come. When your initial transaction is completed, you do not have to end the relationship at that point. Find creative ways to keep in contact with your customers.
  9. Identify your customers’ needs and meet them. Sales professionals should never lose sight that the only purpose of the sales transaction is to help customers. Since transactions are closely associated with money, it is easy to lose sight of this fact. Create a list of questions that you can use to pinpoint exactly what the customer needs from the transaction. These questions will enable you to save time with customers and get to the heart of the matter. Once customers believe that you understand their predicament, they will work with you to meet their needs.
  10. Be able to distinguish a lead from a customer and act accordingly. Brace yourself for this disheartening fact. According to a report by Gleanster Research, only 25 percent of all leads are legitimate and ready to complete a transaction. Leads are potential transactions, and you cannot bank your future on potential. You should categorize your leads and create campaigns to interact with each type. For example, warm leads should have a different marketing strategy than cold calls. Time is a limited resource. It is best to use it wisely.
  11. Solicit targeted leads. A difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn is that every person with a pulse will not be a customer. Since this is the case, sales professionals must create a strategic plan to attract customers that fit their target markets. One way to do this is to make good use of technology to find leads that could use your services. For example, credit professionals who are targeting people who are recovering from bankruptcy can use the public record to find people who fit this profile. Once you have found your potential customers, create a customized sales pitch that will appeal to each demographic.
  12. Learn to uncover each customer’s pain points. Television advertisements are known for pushing the viewer’s hot buttons in order to get them to take action. Fear of loss is the most common pain points that advertisers address. The primary mission of every sale professional, as emphasized in our negotiation training courses, is to find a customer’s pain points and use them to their advantage. Ron Shapiro said it best when he stated, “In order to get what you want, help them get what they want.” Sales professionals can start the search for pain points by asking closed-ended questions that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. As the customer begins to feel comfortable, the salesperson should ask open-ended questions that will prompt customers to reveal additional information. Once the vital information is discovered, salespeople can use it to help their customers take action.
  13. Master the art of storytelling. When sales professionals meet with customers, they are usually armed with all sorts of facts and data. Although data may seem important, studies suggest that only 5 percent of people remember statistics after a presentation. However, an impressive 63 percent of people remember stories after a presentation. Sales professionals need to arm themselves with stories about relevant experiences of people who have received favorable results after using their products and services.
  14. Stand by your product or service and offer some type of guarantee. If your customers are willing to part with their cash, your company should at least be willing to offer a guarantee on the product or service. The guarantee can be a refund or replacement. If you are afraid of most of your customers taking you up on a money back guarantee policy, you should not be. Less than 10 percent of customers return items each year. A product or service guarantee provides your customers with peace of mind that lets them know that they are protected in the event that something goes awry.
  15. Find prospects who want the things you have to sell. The best way to navigate through water is to go with the current instead of swimming against it. In sales, going with the current means that if you are selling chicken, your leads are people who like chicken. If your prospects are vegan, then it will be nearly impossible to sell your chicken products to them. If you want to be certain that your clients need the items you are selling, you should pre-qualify them before you actively market to them.
  16. Develop compelling goals and an actionable plan. Successful people know where they want to go, and they develop an action plan to help them propel toward their destination. Goal-setting and planning are critical to any sales team’s success. According to a study conducted by Inc. Magazine, sales teams that set goals realized a 28 percent increase in sales. Teaching goal-setting strategies should be a mandatory part of every organization’s corporate sales training manual.
  17. Show customers proof that your product or service actually works. When you look at infomercials for weight loss products, they often show ‘before and after’ pictures of previous users of the products. They understand that new customers are motivated by social proof. Sales professionals should keep customer testimonials in a binder or in their laptops to share with customers. When customers are able to view the visible proof, they will be more likely to invest in your product or service.
  18. Maintain a positive mindset. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by the number of sales professionals who develop a jaded outlook because of sales slumps. Sales professionals must make every effort to remain positive in good and tough times. Developing a positive attitude has many benefits. Customers can tell when you are not in a good mood, and it will affect the transaction. A positive outlook helps sales professionals look for solutions to pending problems. When your sales professionals are positive, they will be able to handle stressful situations.

In this competitive business environment, sales professionals need to learn all the tricks of the trade in order to close a deal. By using these sales tactics that work, your sales team can learn to thrive in any economic climate.

The Pros and Cons of the Indirect Sale

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Many companies—particularly new or small firms—may wonder if there’s profit in indirect sales. The debate has been going on for many years, and any simple internet search will render countless opinions about the best business decision. Like most things, there are pros and cons that you need to examine fully before you make your choice.

Pros

  • Indirect sales channels have more visitors. Since these websites and businesses are already established, they have an existing customer base. People get exposure to your brand during their regular shopping, even if they’ve never heard about it before.
  • A sales channel can be more functional. Larger companies may have access to better programs and technology, making for a more sophisticated customer experience. You can eliminate the need to build your own website when you list products with an affiliate or on a marketplace.
  • They provide lower maintenance once established. Since you’re not in charge of the channel itself, you don’t have to worry about upkeep or updates. The initial setup may be a bit extensive, but after that, your ride may be significantly easier.
  • Expansion is at your fingertips. Working with an indirect sales channel can give you nationwide or global access Instead of having to build your own team, you can rely on their existing resources to get your brand into the far corners of the world.

Indirect sales are a clear answer for some businesses, but not others. Considering the downsides of third-party involvement is important when choosing the future of your business.

Cons

  • They’re not as passionate. Since you have your own time and money invested in your business, you want it to work. It may be a lifelong dream or even your lone source of income. But no matter how incredible your products are, an affiliate will never be as eager. They have their own companies to run, and if you want maximum drive, you’ll have to do it yourself.
  • There can be conflict. The world is full of competitors, and it may be hard to find a channel that can work for you—particularly in more heavily populated areas.
  • You have more competition. Most partners aren’t going to stock only your brand—after all, it’s less profitable for them. Customers enjoy having options, and it’s likely that the product of your hard work will be right next to its biggest contender.

With the proper relationship and platform, indirect sales can be incredible. They may reach far greater heights than you ever could alone, but it won’t come without cost. Consider all the facts and make the choice that’s best for your business.

Telecommuting: How to Train a Mobile Sales Force

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Technology is steering our personal lives, but it’s also bringing big changes to the business industry. Telecommuting is more popular than ever, and experts expect it to increase. Although firms will never phase out traditional employees completely, making a living from remote locations is the future of work.

Mobile sales teams can be much more cost effective for a business, but they present their own challenges. Training, in particular, is harder to perfect. There are ways to ensure that your instruction is the most effective, however—even from thousands of miles away.

  1. Double up on training and testing. Use the orientation period to gauge potential employees’ compatibility with your company. They should be able to pick up on rules and procedures quickly. Provide ample time, of course, but note applicants who excel. Chances are that they’ll do better in production if the material is more natural to them.
  1. Monitor activity during initiation. Videos and other presentations should include prompts to continue, ensuring that employees are spending time in front of the screen. Tech giant Apple reportedly uses software that tracks mouse movement during training and may even call the applicant if monitoring detects no change within a time frame.
  1. Keep potential employees engaged. Starting the day asking personal questions can make each candidate feel valued. This is especially useful in video conferences at the beginning of group training, allowing prospective hires to build bonds with each other and their instructors.
  1. Create a company Wiki. Keep all the resources your new hires will need in one place. They can quickly reference training material, which should include sections explaining performance reviews, working style, role-specific information, tools, and FAQs.
  1. Go mobile. Most training for those in telecommuting positions is via a computer. NASA is taking a different approach. Using slideshows and tablets, the company is providing maintenance walk-throughs on undersea projects. This is a rather extreme version, of course, but sales teams can benefit from the flexibility as well.

A potential employee may be able to take your instruction to a baseball game or while traveling. Potential employees will be able to learn wherever they go and can have information right at hand when dealing with clients. Instant information in the field—doesn’t get much more efficient than that.

Telecommuting produces happier, more productive, more dedicated employees. It’s also smarter for the environment and the safety of others, since it reduces fuel consumption and vehicle accidents. With the right training program and tools, your mobile sales team can efficiently and effectively cover more ground than ever.