Product training is a must, but sales skills training is a nuisance for most rep firms (as it is for most sales organizations). Sure it's important to keep sales associates' skills current and sharp, but skills training can be expensive and it means time out of the field that few rep firms can manage or afford.
There are some low-cost and time-sensitive options, however, as Scott Lehman of Lehman & Associates in Chicago has discovered.
Lehman uses a sales training service offered by David Kahle of the DaCo Corporation, a consultant and speaker on sales and sales management, to keep his sales associates up to the mark. About once a month on a Friday, Lehman gathers four or five of his sales associates over lunch and around the speakerphone in his office to participate in a telephone-based training session conducted by Kahle.
At a cost of $85 per session (if five people participate, that's a cost of $17 per person to Lehman, and there's a discount for those who sub scribe to six months of the sessions at a time), Lehman and his group dial in to an AT&T conference call center for a 60-minute virtual training session on topics ranging from time management, to handling objections, to getting around voice mail. Participants download .pdf files of worksheets and handouts related to the session in advance.
Kahle himself likens the sessions to "talk radio." The sessions are offered each month, on a Friday, at noon and 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. A host or hostess introduces Kahle, who presents about 45-minutes of material on the month's topic, referring to the handout material so that listeners can follow along and take notes if they like.
At the end of the presentation, Kahle responds to questions that have been faxed in. Participants can also call in to the host, who will patch them through to Kahle to ask their questions "live." It's rare that there are more questions than time to answer them, says Kahle, but if there are he will respond to them in a monthly newsletter that goes to participants in the seminar series. He also offers exercises and discussion topics that participants can use in follow-up discussions of their own.
Thus far, Lehman says, he and his sales associates are pleased with the training sessions, and he expects to call in to more of Kahle's upcoming sessions. And he and his agency are not the only ones taking advantage of the offering. Last month, participants called in to Kahle's seminar from 111 different locations.
Contact: Scott Lehman, email@example.com; Dave Kahle, The DaCo Corporation, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.davekahle.com.