It’s all in the game

When Ken Jacobs hired The Learning Service Ltd. to facilitate a training seminar for his sales staff, he didn’t realize a metamorphosis was about to take place.

Jacobs, president of Liquid Control Corp. in Canton, says the program, called The New Sales Game, altered sales team assumptions about customer perceptions and modified methods for selling the manufacturer’s liquid dispensing systems.

“We used to think we were sympathetic to customer needs, but the program provided ways for us to really understand a customer’s application, focus on the customer’s needs, and from there, present a solution to their problems,” Jacobs says.

Co-authored by sales trainers Darryl Doane and Rose Sloat of The Learning Service in Canton, The New Sales Game was published by HRD Press and debuted last summer at the American Society for Training and Development International Expo in Atlanta.

“Our goal in creating the program was to help a company’s sales force change from being service providers to becoming solutions providers for customers,” says Doane, TLS director of learning.

The highly interactive, performance-based program is a one-day seminar that uses lectures, group discussions, role playing, activities such as the course’s Customer Focus Tool and Action Plan and games including The New Sales Game’s foldout version.

The course compels salespeople to focus on realities, goals and strategies “to achieve the next level of sales” (the program’s mantra).

“What differentiates this program is that it’s not just from the sales team’s perspective. It’s more, ‘How do we tap into the mind of the customer so we can build customer responsive relationships and implement value-added services?’” Doane says. “Understanding the customer’s true perception of the level of service you’re providing is critical to become an irreplaceable commodity to that customer.”

Jacobs says The New Sales Game also taught his salespeople how to augment the perceived value of Liquid Control products by being better listeners so they could, in turn, emphasize customer benefits, rather than boast about product features.

“Instead of going in, spreading your wares out on the table and saying, ‘Which of these do you want to buy?’ you ask the proper questions and carefully listen to the customer’s problems, so you can better determine which of the items you have to sell can best meet their needs,” says Jacobs.

Part of the program focuses on personality profiles and, as a result, Jacobs says his sales representatives now understand how to best respond to individual customers’ personalities and behavioral styles.

Doane and Sloat make themselves available to facilitate the program to businesses. They will also teach a company’s in-house trainer how to present the course and have developed a facilitator’s guide that includes a scripted seminar, overheads, activities tools, instructions for using each and foldout and wall-mounted versions of The New Sales Game.

A separate participant’s book includes student materials, activity tools and a foldout version.

How to reach: The Learning Service Ltd., (330) 456-2422; Liquid Control Corp., (330) 494-1313