Sales courses

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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Sales can be a very competitive area to work in. A little extra training to help hone your sales skills can go a long way to earning you the big commissions/bonuses that we know your work deserves

One of the best films of the 1990s is Glengarry Glen Ross. In case you haven’t seen it, the drama focuses on a real estate sales team. The regional sales manager (Alec Baldwin) decides to liven things up in the office, and provide some extra motivation to his sales staff (including Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris and Alan Arkin) by giving out prizes for the next month’s sales contest. First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, second prize is a set of steak knives, and “third prize is you’re fired. Hit the bricks, pal, and beat it, ’cause you are going OUT!” Great excitement and tragedy ensues.

You can learn a lot about sales, and life, from watching Glengarry Glen Ross, but one of the main points that comes across watching the film is that the distance between success and failure is often wafer thin. Not all workplaces are as cut-throat as the office in the film, however there is a certain precariousness to life as a professional sales representative.

It all comes down to making that sale (or ‘closing’, as they say in the film). While some customers are easy-sells, the majority have to be persuaded to choose the product or service you are offering. Some people say that success in sales is purely down to the salesperson’s personality, but this is not true, to be a winning sales representative you need to utilise assertiveness, communications, negotiation, presentation and closing skills and techniques. All of which can be learned and improved by taking a part time sales course.

Many sales jobs are commission based, where your monthly earnings are dependent on how many sales you make. Other jobs have set sales targets, which staff must meet, and again failure can mean less money at the end of the month. Whichever situation you face, there is plenty of incentive for people to take a nightcourse and improve their skills and techniques to maximise their monthly pay-packet.

There are many different sales part time course options out there, which are focused on the needs and requirements of individuals in different situations. Some courses are aimed at people who have little or no sales experience thus far, and are looking to learn the ropes to launch their sales career. Others are tailored towards people with maybe a couple of years experience in sales, and who are looking to maybe gain a promotion at work, or position themselves for a more challenging position elsewhere. The Communications & Management Institute and Dublin Business School both provide evening diploma courses in Marketing, PR, Sales and Advertising.

Whatever level you are at sales is all about building relationships – with colleagues, managers, suppliers, but above all, with customers. You have to be able to get inside the mind of the buyer, and work out what their motivations and needs are, and then meet these. Building a relationship with a regular customer who you can return to again for further business is most useful. Some sales courses get pretty theoretical and contain a certain amount of psychology, communications theory and marketing elements, which help you grow and cement these relationships into something you can rely on.

Other courses focus on communications skills – whether over the telephone, written or face-to-face. A sales training course can teach you how to open a phone conversation in a positive manner, how to present your offer, handle objections and manage difficult or downright rude customers. It can also give you tips and advice on composing introductory letters and emails, where finding the right tone and catching the interest of the customer is all important. Other part time courses look at face-to-face sales, and teach you how to put together a winning presentation, gain confidence speaking to strangers or groups and deal with unexpected issues or questions which might pop up.

Time and territory management are also very important sales techniques. You need to be able to look at the territory, potential customers or leads that you have been given, and then allocate your resources effectively. Prioritising the customers who will make you the most money is the key, and being able to plan, implement and review a coherent strategy can make all the difference. A sales course can give you the necessary skills and way of thinking to make this happen.

Career paths in sales tend not to be straightforward. Some companies offer staff development programmes, but it is often up to the individual themselves to maximise their own opportunities. This is where investing in a sales nightcourse can make sense. If you can gain that little bit extra to help you close those few more sales, then you might just be able to cover the costs. If you choose the right course, and can apply what you learn to your personal situation, then there is no reason why that Cadillac (or at least the set of steak-knives) can’t be yours.

Frank Bolger

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