IT Services Sales Training: What Are the Effects of the Pandemic?
IT services sales training is just one of many B2B areas that have changed due to the pandemic. Digital channels are becoming the norm for communicating with customers and prospects. Consequently, sales leaders have had to make agile decisions to improve the conversation skills of their representatives and their teams to be digital and hybrid ready.
According to recent global research from McKinsey, this change is affecting all areas related to B2B sales, including customer preferences. Below are some interesting facts:
- With lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and quarantining forcing people to stay at home, remote selling was born of necessity as a consequence. B2B sales managers reacted very quickly, so much so that about 90% reported working via videoconferencing or phone.
- There are some sectors where this trend is more prominent than in others. For example, in technology, media, and telecom, it is almost 100%.
- There are already aggressive measures to help sales leaders cope with the COVID-19 crisis. As part of the transition to remote working, 70% of companies have also set up multidisciplinary departments to manage sales operations.
- Customers are more likely to prefer digital sales interactions when researching products.
- With the rapid adoption of digital and self-service channels, businesses need to consider not only how to create compelling digital interactions but also how to deploy sales representatives effectively during any precious moments of human interaction.
Providing relevant IT services sales training can help your reps get beyond basic product knowledge, actually developing empathetic and engaging conversations with customers that build authentic relationships. New technologies can help you train your sales team by detecting subtle human connection variables, which go beyond the more traditional ones, as they focus on the way each representative speaks and moves. These processes can be automated and scaled with technology and artificial intelligence (AI). Continue reading to learn more.
What Areas Should IT Service Sales Training Cover?
You may not be convinced that you need to update your IT service sales training program to reflect the new skills required by the market. If so, review the following information from The Gartner Future of Sales 2025 to understand why a change may benefit your organization:
- By 2025, digital channels will account for 80% of B2B sales interactions. The role of the chief sales officer (CSO) and other senior sales leaders has changed forever, and as a result, so have the customers’ buying preferences.
- An organization’s sales team must be able to reach potential customers wherever they expect to engage, interact and transact with suppliers.
- Future-state sales are hyper-automated, with digital-first customer engagement rather than traditional sales processes.
Although there have been several developments in the IT sector, there are still certain topics and criteria for IT services sales training that will remain the same. The best thing to do is to update the usual knowledge training with the development of soft communication skills via an automated program. The following are a few of the topics that your IT services sales training program can cover:
In-depth IT service benefits knowledge
When it comes to selling IT services, the lack of understanding of all the benefits technology can bring a customer is a serious obstacle, especially when customers expect more personalized attention tailored to their specific needs. It takes proper training and research to change that vision, to show how important the solution is to the client.
There are distinct differences between selling IT services and others because company insiders often offer IT platforms. It is then crucial for IT reps to convey how the service will exceed expectations, increase productivity, and result in greater profits.
Crafting a great sales pitch
Every IT services sales training must include a section where reps can learn to create a great pitch. To close the sale, to present new clients with excellent results, explaining how flexible the service is, or establishing credibility about stability and redundancy are important key messages to communicate.
For IT sales pitches today, it is also essential to know every customer’s strategic concerns and other pain points and have a broader perspective of their unique needs. Doing so will allow your reps to convert their knowledge into business opportunities by adding value to their wording.
Your reps must remember their clients are likely IT managers who have been under pressure so that their area produces tangible and positive results for the company. In this sense, understanding a client’s goals is fundamental for drawing an aligned product or service offering with the company’s expectations of return.
Soft skill training
Sales leaders often underestimate some abilities that aren’t obvious. Soft skills might be one of them, mainly because managers don’t think they can measure them. Thanks to behavioral science and conversation intelligence, these skills are now just as measurable as technical product knowledge.
Soft skill encompasses interpersonal interaction, communication, listening, time management and empathetic characteristics. Therefore, these abilities ensure a higher level of success in the workplace for individuals, and they also complement technical and job-specific skills well.
When developing their IT services sales training strategy, sales teams often overlook these attributes. Sales managers dismiss such skills as subjective or difficult to quantify. In reality, they are some of the essential leadership qualities that differentiate a great salesperson from a good one. And the missing link for better sales performance. Communication, self-analysis, and a sense of teamwork are examples of these qualities that diminish when referred to as “soft.”
If you want to update your IT representatives’ training, you must also consider the soft skills component. When you have the latest technology at your disposal, you’ll begin to realize that sales results don’t just depend on what reps say but how they say it.
Why Is Soft Skill Training Important?
Many corporate success stories prove how effective critical communication ensures an audience will respond positively to a speaker. No matter how impressive their credentials are, leaders will ultimately be ineffective if they lack the skills to inspire confidence, dedication, and commitment in others. The same holds for sales professionals.
Incorporating soft skills into IT services sales training is a wise decision if you want to see your sales professionals excel and your sales metrics skyrocket. Tech advances and machine learning enable leading companies to train and measure their sales teams on soft skills. The breakthrough allows managers to understand better how each team member performs, where they can improve, and what they can learn from each other.
It is often difficult for managers to figure out how to keep track of their IT sales staff’s soft skills training and what is working and what isn’t. Emotional intelligence, empathy, curiosity, trustworthiness, self-control, and self-confidence are complex qualities to score.
There are no clear benchmarks or standardized assessments as far as communication skills or the ability to connect with others. It is possible to use online feedback tools to understand better how certain employees can enhance their soft skills. There are more than a few approaches available, but most of them are not objective, and you may not be able to determine what really matters and what level of progress your team members are making.
This challenge requires enterprises to create quantifiable goals and action plans to address them, and they need an objective, scalable and intelligent tool that can handle this issue. This platform can assist IT sales teams in acquiring soft skills in an efficient and sustained manner.
Related: 3 Ways Inclusive Leaders Communicate
Is it Possible to Ultimately Measure Soft Skills to Develop IT Sales Teams?
The leading industry innovators have created a platform that can employ soft skills training for IT services sales teams to continuously evaluate their abilities for the future. Additionally, their approach is not just objective. It is also science-driven, enabling individuals to monitor their progress, highlight adjustments to the training plan, and have a clear focus on achieving goals.
There are still many organizations that use unstructured and intuition-based methods to assess and develop the soft skills their IT reps need, as well as team members’ communication skills. Some of the more common tools have questions that usually center around behavioral or situational topics. Using a questionnaire can provide you with some sense of someone’s soft skills, yet they may be based on rehearsed and biased responses.
Check out the following three simple steps below to find out how to follow up on these capabilities and include them in a thriving IT services sales training program.
Decide what skills you require from your current team members
If you wish to achieve your goal, determining what soft skills your organization needs is the most critical step.
You can build a system for finding and retaining salespeople who possess the essential soft skills that will help your company grow by defining those talents. It can also assist existing employees in developing their own abilities. The goal is to make an IT services sales training program based on the link between behaviors and sales outcomes specific to your business.
Some soft skills are:
Salespeople are judged on whether they’re genuine or not by prospects. The best sales reps talk to their clients like friends and are consistent in how they act and what they believe.
It is easier for people to relate to confident reps since they are well-informed and provide well-researched content. It is easier to connect since their style is open and relaxed.
A person’s credibility is determined by whether they appear to have authority and reliable information sources. Representatives with credibility combine their own practical experience and knowledge with outside information.
Engagement is another exciting skill to add to improve performance in IT services sales training. Successful sales representatives engage people emotionally and create connections. Their motivation draws prospects to them. When people are fully engaged in a sales presentation, they are more likely to remember and act upon details.
Trustworthy salespeople give the impression they are also serving their clients’ interests. Credible delivery demonstrates consistency in body language, voice, and message, while transparent content considers prospects’ perspectives.
Assess with the best AI solution
There are a number of traditional methods for assessing soft skills, but they are subjective, highly variable, and ineffective by themselves. Instead, you may use different approaches, such as questionnaires, workshops, or online training.
By using a mixed approach, you can conduct a rigorous analysis of which sales candidates and current staff members possess the necessary soft skills.
You enhance your current IT services sales training program with the right AI-based assessment platform. By working with the right partner, you can train and evaluate your sales team objectively, in a more accurate way than subjectively.
Thanks to technology, you can now gauge how a professional will affect an audience. Through speech recognition, voice analysis, and facial recognition, AI can identify and quantify soft skills.
Design your soft skills training based on science
Any IT organization’s growth depends on involving and developing its sales reps. Using AI to drive assessments is an excellent way to ensure that your sales reps grow with your company. Leading communication experts’ feedback and research enable cutting-edge solutions that deliver personalized improvement plans based on individual evaluations.
You can find platforms that provide actionable feedback tailored to the needs of each IT salesperson and the organization’s long-term development objectives. In general, sales managers and other company leaders can use this tool to measure, monitor, and improve their salespeople’s soft skills in an objective, accurate, and scalable manner.
Quantified provides a solution to this problem, and it is available right now. By introducing innovative AI-based technologies to organizations and their leaders, we enable them to eliminate the guesswork and measure critical sales performance predictors. Get more info on how Quantified can assist your organization in assessing and improving soft skills within your IT sales team. Request a demo.