Many companies used to send their new salespeople into the field almost immediately after hiring them. They would be given samples, order books and general instructions. Training programmes were luxuries. To many companies, a training programme translated into considerable expense for instructors, materials, space and salary for a person who was not yet selling, and a loss of sales opportunities because the person was not in the field.
Today's new salespeople, however, may spend anything from a few weeks to many months in training. Training programmes have several goals. Salespeople need to know and identify with the company, so most companies spend the first part of the training programme describing the company's history and objectives, its organizations, its financial structure and facilities, and its chief products and markets. Because salespeople also need to know the company's products, sales trainees are shown how products are produced and how they work. Salespeople also need to know the characteristics of competitors and customers, including
distributors, so the training programme teaches them about competitors' strategics and about different types of customer and their needs, buying motives and buying habits. Learning how to make effective presentations is another important component in the firm's sales training programmes. Training courses should therefore coyer the principles of selling and outline the chief sales argument for each product. Finally, salespeople need to understand field procedures and responsibilities. They learn how to divide time between active and potential accounts and bow to use an expense account, prepare reports and route communications effectively.
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