Why Top of Funnel Sales Training is so Important
CSO Insights surveys hundreds of B2B sales leaders every year with a simple question: what are your top sales effectiveness initiatives for the year. Their head of research, Barry Trailer, tells us that “Revising/enhancing our lead generation programs has been #1 for 5 years in a row and each year the delta to #2 gets bigger.” Translation: companies need help at the top of the funnel, and the problem is getting worse each year relative to the next biggest headache. I encourage you to take their surveys and read their reports. They always surprise with several counter-intuitive findings that are actionable for Sales VPs.
B2B sales and marketing is completely different now than it was even 10 years ago – this we all know. We are so fortunate to live in an age of great research based sales training companies like Huthwaite (creators of SPIN Selling), Miller Heiman, ValueSelling, and the Corporate Executive Board’s Challenger Sale to name a few of my favorites. All of these sales training companies do a fantastic job of teaching you how to take a qualified opportunity through to close. They show salespeople a sales process methodology from the first appointment, through needs development and questioning, to demonstration of capabilities, to navigating the politics of an organization, and finally to a client commitment. Collectively we are very sophisticated at bottom of the funnel sales training.
The problem is that sales process methodologies presume that you have a qualified opportunity in the first place. Sure, each of these sales training companies has some module on prospecting where they tell you why it’s so important and how to create a prospecting plan. But by and large there is a massive void when it comes to top of funnel sales training. No one teaches you how to find qualified opportunities in the first place or how to more efficiently and effectively convert more of your marketing leads into appointments with decision makers. And if what you are selling is pricey enough, no appointment means no sale. This is true if you are selling in person, by phone, or via web meeting.
The focus of sales training on the second half of the sales process sits at odds with the CSO Insights research findings. If we as sales and marketing leaders struggle more every year with lead generation programs, why do we continue to ignore sales training for lead generation? What’s the point of investing more dollars and time in yet another sales process methodology refresher? Most B2B sales reps who hunt for new business or cross sell existing accounts end up spending an inordinate amount of their time doing prospecting phone work. These are typically expensive salespeople who – hate to break it to you – aren’t nearly as good on the phone as they once were or could be. Their prospecting techniques aren’t optimized for the 21st century and definitely do not include enough social media savvy.
So where do you start? Please see below a very comprehensive lead generation training curriculum. If you need to make your sales team great hunters again, download it and share with your colleagues to start the discussion in your organization.
Posted by on 10/21 at 10:20 AM