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How the spoken word won over our salesforce

Hurrah for Bhupinder Anand (Money Marketing, February 10). What a fantastic article. How right he is.

A long, long time ago in an insurance company head office far, far away, two trainers – ex-salesmen – wondered how to improve the lot of our beleaguered salesforce.

We devised a two-day sales course without notes and designed to be fairly confrontational. We took it on the road.

We ignored comments such as: “What do people from head office know about sales?” and “You train ‘coz you can’t sell.” We asked the sales reps, sorry, advisers, what they wanted to get off their chests.

We stood up to the rotten cabbages, tomatoes, etc. We told them that this was their course, they would hear things that they would like and things that they would not like.

We told them that they could leave if they wanted to, argue with us, do the Times crossword or look out the window. In short, we treated them like adults. Mostly, we told them that they had to see at least 20 people a week, which meant that they had to get off their seats and go and sell to the masses. We even encouraged them to go into public houses, buy a drink or several and talk to people. They liked that a lot.

At the start, we had small courses. At the end, we had all our salespeople clamouring to get in. Why? Because after attending our courses, 80 per cent of the advisers (sorry sales reps) increased their sales by at least 100 per cent, some by more than 200 per cent.

We had comments such as: “You could not have done better than if you had given us a cocktail of tequila slammers washed down with Viagra.” How did we do all this? We spoke with passion and without notes. We believed in the products and rekindled belief in the hearts of our sales reps.

We even went back to demonstrating a paper fact-find on one A4 sheet that looked like a house. Remember the spiel? “Protection is like the foundation of an house – without firm foundations, all will collapse. Now tell me, Mr & Mrs Punter, what policies do you have?”

Simple stuff. It takes about 20 minutes to get all the info you need and gives you an idea as to whether you have “got a live one or not”. I take my hat off to you, Bhupinder, for reminding us what our jobs are all about and I hope the FSA takes the time to read your article.

Term

whole of life? Let us just make sure our clients buy something and, yes, where are the CEOs when the industry needs them? Making announcements about cuts in our bonuses mostly.

Oh, and by the way,I freelance now as a contractor and I would be happy to meet you and demonstrate the course (shameless plug but I am a salesman at heart)

Chris StraceyChristopher Stracey Consulting,

Poole, Dorset

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