By Susan Poizner
Special to The Toronto Sun
Working in sales can be like being a stock car driver. At times you feel great and you're winning the race. At other times you feel like you're hitting a brick wall. That's why there are courses to help sales people hone their skills. One of the most prestigious is the Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage course (www.dale-carnegie.com), which took place recently in Toronto.
"My issue is that you have good days in sales and bad days, and I want to get feedback from the guys who have done it for a long time -- not getting down on myself when I've had a bad day and not to get too excited when I have a good day," says course participant Gerry Moradian, who works as a branch manager for the personnel firm Labour Ready.
Gerry Moradian of Labour Ready learns the essentials of good selling at the recent Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage course in Toronto.
Like Moradian, all of the participants on this course have plenty of sales experience. Most are good at what they do -- and all want to be even better.
"The biggest mistake salespeople make is that they don't listen to their clients and instead they just talk about all the services they can offer this customer," says salesman and business coach Dave Mather, one of the course instructors.
"Our approach is less like the Second World War gunner, who would shoot and hope the enemy runs into the gunfire. We teach people to be more like a heat-seeking missile."
This intensive two-day course teaches participants how to master the pet peeve task of many salespeople: cold calls. Coaches also help each student develop a credibility statement to help introduce themselves and their products and to help inspire confidence in their customers.
As part of the course fee, Mather will continue to act as a business coach for participants for six months after the session, helping them achieve their target of doubling their sales. At $1,795 per person, Sales Advantage attracts mostly high-end customers, like drug or computer companies that want to make their staff more effective.
But there are other courses available in Toronto, giving sales staff, entrepreneurs and others the information they need to help generate more cash for their companies.
Jason Pond of Logue Mechanical Services Ltd. and Charlene Nadalin of News Canada.
Together with the Canadian Professional Sales Association, Centennial College runs a 16-week evening course called Skills for Sales Professionals that costs $273 (www.centennialcollege.ca). At the end of the course, participants take a written and oral exam and graduates earn the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) designation.
Topics include time and stress management, tactical and strategic selling skills and account management.
For those just looking for a taster course in sales, The Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC) is the place to turn (www.tbdc.com). It holds a variety of one-off evening courses to help entrepreneurs or employees learn about how business works, covering bookkeeping and market research.
Now the centre is setting up a new, two-hour course in customer-focused sales, which will run this month and will cost $25.
Whether you're interested in going into sales, or whether you do it grudgingly as a small entrepreneur, any of these courses will help you get beyond the stereotype of the selfish salesman and see that sales can actually be a caring profession, allowing you to offer valuable services that your clients really need.
It may not be easy, but it's a job Gerry Moradian really enjoys:
"I love working in sales. It's exciting. It's never the same thing two days in a row. You can be on an all-time high one day, and anall-time low another. But I think it builds character in yourself that you never even knew you had."
(Reach freelancer Susan Poizner at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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