The Three Most Important Questions You Need to Answer When Developing Professional Services Sales Training
Twice a year, I produce a short training module for our sales teams to learn how to sell professional services. You may think that developing this sort of training module is unnecessary at a software company, or that selling consulting services are the same as selling products and subscriptions. However, for certain businesses, there is a definite need for this kind of training. This is an easy win to improve your sales processes and reduce the potential tension between sales and consulting.
In my case, course development is essential as I lead the in-house consulting team at an identity and access management platform. In-house consulting teams exist at perpetual license software firms as well as subscription-based companies, and have to share the same sales organization. I assume that sales teams understand the sales process already. Therefore, the training I create is to cover only those topics unique to sales of your in-house consulting team. After four years of developing training materials, I have learned that the best courses for sales must answer three important questions for the audience.
Why Should I Pay Attention?
The first question that the course should answer is, “why should I pay attention to this mandatory training?”Most salespeople would rather be selling than in sales training. So, you have to make sure they understand this training is worthwhile. I give stories of clients who worked with our professional services team and had continued to use our software and services. I frame the stories from a financial perspective – so that sales teams will emotionally connect with the long-term benefits of selling consulting services.
What Can I Sell?
The second question the course must answer is, “what can I sell, and how much of that requires someone else to be involved?” The answer will vary depending your firm’s stance on selling pre-packaged services. If you sell many pre-packaged services, describe the overall structure of those services. For example, if you have three packaged implementation services, one for companies with less than 1,000 users, one that covers 1,001 users to 10,000 users, and then one from 10,001 users to 50,000 users, you should describe how those services vary. You will also need to address the inevitable question – what happens when a customer’s request does not fit into a defined package? Alternatively, if your firm does not offer pre-packaged services, you will want the sales teams to understand how to schedule scoping calls and what prerequisites to complete before scheduling a scoping call. For example, if the prospect is looking for an architectural design document, training, an operations handbook, and setting up the first 1,000 users, your sales team will need to know how to best answer that request.
What Are My Talking Points?
The third and final question you need to address are the talking points you would like your sales teams to use when describing your professional services. If you do not have a dedicated sales team for consulting, then you must trust your sales professionals to stay on message about your PSO. That means they need to learn your talking points so that they can bring them up conversationally with prospects. Whether you command a team of world-class experts or recent college graduates and interns, you will want the sales team to describe your team in the most favorable light.
Not everyone in sales needs to take the entire training course. Give seasoned sales professionals who have viewed a prior version of the course the option to challenge the materials with a short, five-question quiz. That way, they do not lose an hour of prospecting or negotiating from their quarter with repetitive training. Plan to incorporate the training into your new hire indoctrination process, and run a live session every six months for those sales professionals who are new to the organization.
A course that answers those three questions will allow your sales teams to understand the fundamentals of selling your professional services offerings. This reduces confusion and friction during the sales process and helps to set expectations so that your professional services team is well-prepared for pre-sales calls. Finally, this helps sales teams to position your consulting offerings appropriately and avoid the risk of consulting being shown as an afterthought.