Rip Van Winkle Sales Training

A recent Twitter post from the American Firm SalesTrainingOL reminds me of Rip Van Winkle. But this new Rip Van is a sales trainer who slept for 100 years instead of the 20 allotted him by Washington Irving almost 2 centuries ago.

Enter Rip Van the sales trainer, still rubbing his eyes, picking up where he left off, asking his class of new sales Reps a standard question from the late 19th century: “Features, Advantages and Benefits are all important, but which one do you use to qualify customer needs?”

Ridiculous? Still in the curriculum of most sales training courses, and posted just days ago. But how relevant is this “features and benefit” story in 2013? More specifically, what’s the point of a sales rep pitching product features when every 4 year-old is sure that anything they want to know is only a Google click away?

And speaking of features, I’ll never forget the salesman who spent so much time describing the features of a certain model car to my fair lady that she left, drove to a few other dealers, then bought a car that “looked pretty.”

Sales trainers, especially the American variety mired deep in the past, need to wake up to the reality that savvy sellers are keenly aware that technology has changed buying behaviour forever. So savvy sellers no longer think features, advantages, benefits, and closing techniques. Instead they have become tactical marketers that, guided by a deep understanding of buying behaviour offer customers invaluable insights.

But take heart all you Rip Van Winkle type sales trainers. No need to quit, for even the worst team in the majors still wins at least one third of their games every year.

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