In all my years of selling ingredients or training ingredient sales reps, there’s probably no situation more devastating to me than that of an ingredient sales rep who has gone through sales training they are incapable of applying. Now, I want to be clear–it’s not that the sales rep can’t apply the sales training, but rather that the sales training doesn’t apply to ingredient selling. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those sales training courses that talk about building a sales process or that give you all sorts of sales processes that they believe will work for you.
The reality is: they don’t work. The main reason they don’t is because ingredient sales is unique in how the ingredient sales rep works with customers, prospects, and moves opportunities forward. Sometimes you’ll get tactical advice like “You should follow-up better” or “Have you tried cold calling?” Well, if you’ve seen my article on cold calling, you’ll know that I think cold calling doesn’t make much sense if you’re in the ingredient sales space.
Another concept that comes up a lot in general sales training is negotiation. While I’ll agree that commodity ingredients definitely have negotiation points, other ingredients have fewer negotiation points and the ingredient sales rep is in a stronger position to limit the way in which negotiations move forward. Thankfully, we are in a world of trends that are moving ingredients faster and faster into new product launches, so that helps limit the intensity of negotiations and actually requires more effective pricing models to capture all of that new business.
My point is that general sales training gives you very general insight. While inspirational and motivating, it’s not helpful if you can’t apply it. Or worse, it actually hurts you because you’re trying to apply something that doesn’t fit your industry.
What is an ingredient sales rep supposed to do with the frustration from receiving general sales training? Do they just give up? Do they keep trying? Well I have used a few approaches and have a few recommendations based on what I’ve done with ingredient sales reps who have had serious sales issues caused by general sales training.
First, identify the areas where you actually need training and target those areas in particular. The problem that most sales reps have is that they are so diversified in their selling activities that general sales training doesn’t actually facilitate them learning everything that they need to in order to be successful in their sales territory or business.
During my years of ingredient sales I would identify areas that I noticed I was struggling with, and in particular areas where I could find a coach, a product, a course, or some sort of solution that would help me in that particular area in my ingredient sales career. I’ve identified almost 70 areas where ingredient sales reps might need specific training or coaching.
Next, try looking at general sales training, then attempt to apply it and identify where it’s difficult to apply. Then, go back to the sales trainer or coach and tell them where you had problems and see if they can help you. Some sales trainers can give insight into your particular area or a particular issue that you’re having, but they might not be able to address all aspects of it.
And finally, just get targeted ingredient sales training from a company that focuses exclusively on ingredient sales reps or ingredient suppliers. Obviously, Ingredient Sales Insights has targeted the ingredient community in various solution areas.
At Ingredient Sales Insights, we have designed a unique opportunity to receive ongoing industry-specific monthly training at Ingredient Sales University. At Ingredient Sales University we have created the solution to every ingredient sales rep’s generalized training problem. If you are frustrated with the progress that you’re making with your current sales training, we want to help. Check out the link below to get more information about Ingredient Sales University.