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the sales activator® training system
a good example of game-based learning and development
This webpage is an unusual one on this website because it chiefly concerns a proprietary product.
This material is also an excellent example of how to design and use games as learning and development activities.
The content in this article additionally includes meaningful guidance for designing training methods - especially for sales people and sales team leaders - what you should focus on, what works well, and what tends not to work well - and why.
The features and descriptions of the product also clearly illustrate the most important factors in designing learning and development games activities, particularly, in this case, for:
- sales training
- team development
and other areas related to selling, for example:
- customer service
- sales management
- call-centre work
- contracts management
- account management
- and marketing.
The product in question is also particularly an example of a game activity that besides developing job skills, develops managers and team leaders, because people in these roles derive great benefit and experience from planning, facilitating and reviewing the game activities.
In summary the Sales Activator® contains over 70 hours of advanced sales training content, explained in 62 training session 'theory cards' (20 selling process and 42 selling techniques). The cards are designed for to make session delivery and facilitation easy, and include diagrams, models, processes, and a team activity idea for each session.
Facilitation and participation and are also aided with a double-sided competitive team quiz board-game (one board-game for selling process, another board-game for sales techniques), which encourages and accelerates learning and enables the sharing of ideas and best practice.
The Sales Activator® is arguably an entire, or very substantial, sales and sales management training toolkit in a box.
There is increasing evidence for the credibility and effectiveness of this game-based activity:
See the Sales Activator® testimonials below.
Also, in August 2004 the Sales Activator® became the first sales training system to be approved by UPSA (The United Professional Sales Association).
See also the sales research summary and detailed research report that underpins much of the development and refinement of this concept.
why conventional sales training can fail
Many organizations fail to achieve their full sales potential despite substantial investment in sales training, development and management.
This is often because:
- lots of sales training has a short-term effect on performance - typically because implementation and application don't happen properly
- sales managers (and lots of other mangers too, despite having been top achievers themselves) often lack a proven methodology to produce top performance from their teams
- linked to the above point, a good individual performer in any job does not automatically make a good manager - management is a different job, and people need properly equipping to do it
- sales people often find it difficult to maintain the correct balance between prospecting, presenting, negotiating, closing and client nurturing, which can lead to sales 'feast and famine' and lost opportunities
- sales leaders and managers find it hard to run sales meetings and training sessions that are relevant, motivational, and have meaningful impact for everyone - from the most experienced to the least experienced sales people
coaching teams (as distinct from training courses) often works well
Great athletes are produced by first identifying and then training a promising talent. But this alone does not guarantee peak performance. Great athletes attain peak performance from ongoing expert coaching.
Coaching is different to sending people on courses. It's more intimate and connected to the people being coached, and it connects much more closely to the actual work and challenges people face in theor roles.
Coaching is generally delivered by the manager or team leader of a team. This is not always or necessarily so, but usually this is the case.
This means that coaching can also help improve relationships within, and motivation, of teams - because the leader is managing the process, rather than an external trainer, who naturally does not generally have these types of connections with people.
Team leaders and managers have lots of opportunities to coach their people, which should be fully exploited. Often leaders do not coach their people because they are not equipped or confident to do so.
For any organization seeking to attain peak performance, a central challenge is therefore to equip and prepare managers to carry out this vital coaching role.
Obviously the time that managers and team leaders already spend in meetings with their people is prime potential coaching time.
This extends to training sessions, one-to-one meetings, performance reviews, and accompanied visits, etc.
A game or specially designed activity such as the Sales Activator® can be a huge help in encouraging and enabling managers and leaders to make the most of these opportunities.
indicators of effective coaching/training methods 0
These principles apply beyond the Sales Activator® to other training and copaching methods used in selling and, and to a great extent to other disciplines too.
These sales improvement levers have been identified and proven as having a significant influence on sales performance (see the research summary and detailed report here).
- the Sales Activator® system ensures that all sales meetings are highly productive and focus on increasing the sales team's ability to sell and achieve more
- the system is relevant and effective for mixed levels of experience and ability within the same sales team and sales meeting
- it provides new and experienced sales managers and team leaders with a simple toolkit to become effective sales improvement coaches to their sales team
- it improves effectiveness of sales training courses with greater emphasis on performance lift and is self-perpetuating so that the effect continues and builds and sustains throughout the trading year
Here are some more detailed descriptions of the Sales Activator® game-based activity.
As well as describing the product itself, this material contains many examples of good practice in training and the use of games and activities to teach and develop people.
sales activator® training game elements
The Sales Activator® is an innovative toolkit of advanced techniques contained in a user-friendly and tactile format. The technical content comprises over 70 hours worth of classical and advanced theory, techniques, rules and selling skills - a large volume of learning and development material sales teams and their team leaders.
The Sales Activator® toolkit actually comprises two separate board game components:
- Trynamic Sales Game - deals with the sales structure and sales funnel or pipeline - to optimise the selling process
- Selling Game - deals with selling skills, techniques, theories and behaviours - to optimise personal selling success
Each of these games contains a set of 'suggestions cards', which contains answers, theory, content, trainer guidance and references. There is also a guide and demonstration video tutorial for the trainer, sales manager, team leader or facilitator.
The five main elements are shown and described here in more detail:
1 - sales activator® guide for sales team leaders and facilitators
The guide and video demonstration tutorial for sales managers and team
This explains the materials in the pack and how to start thinking about the most effective ways to use them with the sales team.
These materials are packed with hints and tips that are designed to enhance the learning and development of sales teams.
2 - 'trynamic' sales game
The 'Trynamic' Sales Game is designed to improve sales
The activity is a simple and entertaining board game that encourages team members to think in a systematic way about their sales activities.
The game also concentrates a sales team's focus on doing the things that get good results.
The emphasis is on developing structure and process to enhance productivity.
3 - 'trynamic' sales game suggestion cardsThe Trynamic Sales Game suggestions cards provide the knowledge that underpins the Trynamic Sales Game.
The game suggestion cards can be used in several different ways.
The depth, sophistication and relevance of the content are extensive.
Each of the 20 'sales theory' session cards contains excellent selling process training material, and a team activity idea.
The game activities are designed to improve team members' productivity, activity levels and time management.
4 - the selling gameThe Selling Game is designed to be a fun and highly participative board game.
Its purpose is to enhance team members' knowledge and understanding of the sales process.
The game also enables team members to learn the various skills and techniques involved in modern successful selling.
The Selling Game also stimulates open discussion, transfer of knowledge within teams, and develops consistency in their approach.
5 - the selling game suggestion cardsThe Selling Game Suggestions cards provide 42 techniques to help sales team members gain a greater understanding of the sales process.
Each of the 42 'sales theory' session cards contains excellent selling techniques training material, and a team activity idea.
The game suggestion cards also develop the team's knowledge and skills required for effective consultative selling.
The cards can be followed to the letter or used as a starting point in the creation of other learning and selling approaches.
how and why the sales activator® system is effective in developing sales
Most sales teams are extremely busy and are often reluctant to take time 'off the road' for training.
Sales managers are always under pressure to use a systematic approach when planning sales activities, especially time 'off the road'.
It is vital for modern successful sales organizations that sales managers and team leaders ensure that all time spent on team training and meetings is used well, which means improving skills, knowledge and processes of all team members. The materials in The Sales Activator® certainly seem to address these issues extremely effectively.
The resources can be used on a regular basis, for example, for a short period during each team meeting to continuously build and reinforce sales team members' knowledge and understanding. This helps to keep their learning fresh and 'front of mind', and therefore increases the chances of it being applied in sales people's everyday working lives to enhance their sales results.
'just in time' sales training
The materials in the Sales Activator® system provide an extensive and diverse resource for 'just in time' training, as and when specific development needs are identified (either for the team or for particular individuals).
The sales manager or team leader is never at a loss for new ideas or a response to a new challenge.
The sales manager or team leader is able to choose to use only those materials that target the areas in need of development, to ensure that your team members' learning is really focused and time-efficient.
small chunk 'bite-size' learning
The format of each of the game's questions and suggestions cards makes the learning highly appealing and easy to digest.
By breaking the learning, techniques and theories, etc., down into fun-sized pieces, team members absorb and assimilate the new information far more completely than in traditional training courses or conventional training methods.
flexibility of use
The Sales Activator® resources can be used in a variety of different ways, depending on the needs and preferences of the team members and the amount of time available for the learning sessions.
For example, the games can involve teams of varying numbers:
Between two and nine people (nine people are split into three teams of three) require the team leader facilitator to have little or no facilitation experience.
Upwards of nine people will require a little more facilitation (for instance electing team leaders), and it is perfectly possible for the game to be played by groups of fifteen or even thirty (if a team 'panel' format is applied).
The game activities can last for anything between 20 minutes and an hour, with as much or little facilitation and team leader input as is warranted.
The materials are designed to provide valuable support for individual team members, which opens the possibilities for, and encourages, mentors and knowledge transfer within teams.
The material is flexible to allow resources to be picked and mixed creatively to suit the market challenges, corporate priorities and 'flavours of the month', the needs of the team and individuals with it.
The sales manager or team leader generally finds that the format and materials enable ready focus on any particular aspects of sales performance requiring attention and improvement.
unique sales learning enhancers
The resources incorporate a range of unique learning enhancers such as, positive language throughout, to help people learn faster and easier than normal.
a sales development method that sales people enjoy
The degree of interaction, discussion and healthy competition involved in playing the games is a perfect way to learn for virtually all sorts of sales people.
The materials are designed to make the whole learning experience energetic and enjoyable, and to inspire people to actively apply their learning straight away.
The content is based on leading-edge research into 'the difference that makes the difference' when it comes to top performing salespeople, so it is proven, validated, and directly relevant.
how to make the most of the resources within the sales activator®
The broad processes examples here provide effective structures for using the resources:
- play the games
- identify specific development needs
- use the suggestions cards to address and answer identified development needs
- play the games again to reinforce the learning and check understanding
- use the suggestions cards to provide blueprints and content for learning
- play the games to reinforce the learning and check understanding
- identify remaining or new specific development needs
- use the suggestions cards to address and answer identified development needs
- play the games again to reinforce the learning and check understanding
the 'trynamic' sales game
The Trynamic sales game is one of the two board game components of the Sales Activator® toolkit.
Outstanding sales performance is not just about being able to sell, it's also about making the best possible use of selling time, and focusing energy on activities that deliver results.
The Trynamic Sales Game is designed to help team members plan, prepare and manage sales activities more effectively.
It provides a framework - based on the sales cycle or sales funnel - that enables sales people to maximise time and improve productivity.
The sales cycle elements featured in the Trynamic Sales Game are common to all sales organizations. By learning and understanding how to optimise each stage of the sales funnel, sales people optimise their whole sales activity and performance.
The layout of the Trynamic board game reflects the key process stages:
- profile target customers or prospects
- generate and/or receive sales leads or enquiries
- qualify leads into prospects
- develop ongoing discussion to move prospects through the sales funnel or 'pipeline'
- convert prospects into customers = new business
- ongoing account management and development
Specifically The Trynamic Sales Game looks at 4 key areas:
- Leads - people who may or may not meet criteria for potential customers
- Prospects - people who definitely meet criteria for potential customers and have been qualified
- Ongoing discussions - people with whom the sales person are talking with a view to agreeing a sale or contract
- Customers - people with whom you are actually doing business with
'Rules of play' describe how to play The Trynamic Sales Game.
Playing the game - essentially rolling a dice and answering relevant questions - helps the sales manager or team leader to diagnose each team members' specific development needs.
the quiz and competitive team format makes the game irresistible - even to those who at first appear reluctant or shy. The urge to play games and take part in competitive quizzes is present in all of us, and especially sales people.
As a part of the game, or as a separate activity, the Trynamic sales process suggestions cards can then be used to develop, reinforce and check the learning.
the selling game
The Selling Game focuses on the overall consultative sales process, from the mental preparation required beforehand, through to negotiating with the customer and closing the sale.
Here are the stages of the selling process which are featured in the Selling Game, and which are reflected in the board game design, questions, and suggestions cards:
1 - preparing yourself for success
In sales, attitude is everything! This stage is about making sure that team members set themselves clear and compelling goals, feel calm, confident and in a positive frame of mind, and look forward to the selling experience.
2 - building relationships
Research shows that people buy from people they like, so team members' ability to build powerful rapport with customers, quickly and easily, provides them with the foundation for success in sales. This stage is about developing strong relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
3 - understanding customer requirements
The better team members understand their customers, the more effectively they will be able to align products and/or services to the customer's specific requirements, and the more likely they are to achieve a sale. This stage is about using questions in a systematic and persuasive way to find out what's important to the customer and gaining a full appreciation of their specific requirements.
4 - fulfilling customer requirements
Once team members have understood their customers' requirements, they are in a great position to meet them and win the business. This stage is about presenting proposals so that they show how your product/service totally fulfils the customer's requirements, and offer an irresistible proposition.
5 - negotiating for win-win outcomes
There may be occasions where team members have to negotiate with a customer prior to making a sale. This stage is about the strategies they can use in their negotiations to help establish common ground, develop the relationship with the customer even further and achieve a win-win outcome.
6 - handling objections and closing
The manner in which team members respond to customer concerns will have a major impact on their sales results. This stage is about pre-empting objections as far as possible and handling them positively if and when they do arise. It's also about taking a proactive approach to closing, and getting the sale.
how to make the most of the selling game
Although there is a logical order to the stages in the sales process, life rarely happens in a perfect step-by-step sequence. In winning a piece of business - which can take weeks, months, even years - sales people may go through selling stages simultaneously, or in a different order and/or several times.
Whatever, the challenge for sales people is to respond flexibly and appropriately to each customer and situation. Flexibility and adaptability are key elements of successful selling.
A separate 'rules of play' booklet describes how to play The Selling Game and assists the team leader in exploring the many different variations in its use.
The Selling Game can be used as a diagnostic tool, to help you identify the specific areas in which your team members need to develop, and then use the Suggestions cards to help you address those areas.
Alternatively, the game can be used to reinforce the learning from the suggestions cards and check your team members' understanding.
the resource is flexible to enable choice of approach based on the needs of team members, the challenge and priorities faced, and the time available for the learning session.
trynamic game & selling game suggestions cards
As implied these cards offer a series of suggestions, tips, tools and techniques to assist in developing sales team members' sales performance. They cover the knowledge and skills for effective activity management, and which which underpin the entire sales process.
There are two sets of suggestions cards:
- 20 cards for The Trynamic Sales Game
- 42 cards for The Selling Game
Other than when suggestions cards are prompted while playing the questions part of either of the games, there is no set order or method for using the suggestions cards.
The way you use these resources and materials is entirely flexible. The manager or team leader is able to pick whatever suits the situation at the time, depending on your team's requirements, current priorities, challenges, etc.
It could be that the games questions prompt areas of interest covered in the suggestions cards, or you could lead the activity using the suggestions cards themselves, and then check understanding later by using relevant questions cards (which of course you can pre-select), during either of the games.
Managers and team leaders can take a planned or spontaneous approach to the use of the suggestions cards. The system is flexible to allow people to use the resources in a manner which suits the needs of the moment and the style of the session. The content contained in the cards can be covered in detail, or scanned until a particular issue resonates with an individual or the team as a whole. Subjects can be pre-selected, or a random 'blind' choice made off the top of the pile or by shuffling the pack.
The suggestion cards, like the other Sales Activator® resources, provide a new, unique and very flexible, dynamic approach to learning and development.
sales activator® testimonials
Evidence from leading training and development experts and professionals as to the effectiveness of The Sales Activator®system:
"When I first saw The Sales Activator® I was blown away by its potential as a sales training tool........ Its uniqueness and originality combined with it's creative and interactive process make it ideal to use at all levels in the sales training process...... from the basic to the complex and from the general to the specific............ The Sales Activator® creates the ideal competitive yet non-threatening environment where learning occurs naturally and training becomes fun. Any organisation serious about creating dramatic, sustainable increases in sales performance owes it to itself to explore the potential of this incredible training tool." (Dermot Cahill, Director, Strategic Alliances - Nightingale Conant)
"In today's ever-changing regulatory environment, we are challenged with finding ways of making compliance training engaging and relevant. Your system does that in a way that is beyond anything else in the marketplace." (Donald Parker, Registered Principal Agency Director of Training and Development Capitol Financial Partners/MassMutual - Vienna, VA)
"I just wanted to let you know that I think your Sales Activator® is brilliant. In my opinion this product could change the face of learning in the future. And it is fun!....." (Elza Muller, Shell South Africa Pty Limited)
"This innovative game style approach combined with the suggestion cards has been very well received by our team leaders and their teams. The response and results gained from this pack motivated our senior leadership team to use it to develop their knowledge and awareness." (Pavita Walker, Director of Talent Management Barclays Bank Plc)
"In addition to the development of core account management and selling skills, we have found that The Sales Activator® provides a mechanism for promoting leadership development, teamwork and collaboration, all of which are necessary for fully leveraging those core skills." (Jonathan Ledwidge Manager, Knowledge Management ABN Amro)
The Sales Activator® is a unique learning dynamic that adds tremendous support to the sales coach or manager in delivering consistent team performance. Working within sales development and having trained hundreds of salespeople, it can be difficult finding a learning dynamic that really adds value. Look no further, The Sales Activator®will enable you to have a great platform to build consistent learning messages for your team, whether it is through formal or informal interventions. Great tool, great value." (Nick Savastano, MBA Development Manager, Zurich Life)
"The Sales Activator® is a highly effective way to maintain high selling standards in our company and it's absolutely perfect for new sales managers who lack experience in leadership. I love the fact that the interactivity involved teaches my people to find the answers to important questions within themselves. I highly recommend it to any company with a salesforce!" (Ray Byrne, CEO, AC&T Pty Ltd)
"Having spent years supporting the learning and development community we have seen lots of innovations in the corporate training world. The Sales Activator® is a unique and powerful way of educating your sales team. It really helps solve the challenge sales managers often face struggling to coach their team on improving sales results. Having seen the learning mechanics being used in team meetings they create fun and effective learning and focus the group on improving their results." (Richard Bednall, Director, Honey Plc)
"As an organisation that specialises in the protection and maximisation of intellectual property rights we see thousands of ideas. The Sales Activator® is outstanding for so many reasons. Firstly, it's content rich with the 70 hours of flexible learning tutorials, secondly it's positioning for team leaders improves their skills at developing their sales teams on a continual basis and thirdly the total approach has been proven to increase sales results. This product is an absolute must for any organisation seeking to increase their sales productivity." (Nathan Sage, Managing Director, St John's Intellectual Asset Management)
"The Sales Activator® is the solution to a problem that agency managers have had for over 100 years." (Warren Negri Insurance Speaker, retired General Agent NWML)
"The Sales Activator® is a great dynamic. Everyone is enthusiastic about the process and I will be excited to see their improvement develop over time. Very comprehensive, universally applicable and interactive. Great product." (Peter M. Adler President, Today's Mortgage)
"I'm a convert to The Sales Activator® and keen to take it forward. I was truly amazed at the rise of the energy and passion levels as the game moved forward. " (John Hall, National Sales Training Manager UK, DHL)
"What an amazing product and fun too! It has already helped our sales team tremendously and we've seen dramatic improvements in our close rates." (Vic Conant, President, Nightingale Conant)
upsa (united professional sales association) accreditation
The United Professional Sales Association has accredited Trainique Ltd and their unique Sales Activator® as the first ever technology compliant with the UPSA standards. Trainique submitted their technology to the UPSA standards committee in early November 2003. The UPSA standards committee assessed the training and coaching program for compliance to UPSA's standards and ethical code utilizing their guide to the universal sales standards: The Compendium of Professional Selling. After announcing compliance to the standard, UPSA founder and chairman Brian Lambert said: "I am pleased to recognize The Sales Activator® as a compliant training and coaching technology to the universal sales framework and standards defined by UPSA. After seeing it in action, it's my opinion that The Sales Activator® is cutting-edge and will stimulate the next revolution in sales coaching, training, and reinforcement. The ability for The Sales Activator® to reinforce an individuals own strengths and allow them to customize their own approach, while learning from their management, peers, and others is a much needed remedy to the challenges faced by today's top-notch sales professional."
Founded in 2002, UPSA is one of the fastest growing non-profit membership organizations serving the sales profession. Through its networking events, sales education seminars, local chapters, universal sales standards, and objective certification process, UPSA offers its members opportunities to grow as sales professionals. UPSA is headquartered in Washington DC.
(UPSA, WASHINGTON, DC, 30 August 2004)
the sales activator® - pricing and contact details
The Sales Activator® was developed and launched following extensive research, of which certain aspects are summarised in the white paper 'The Five Most Dangerous Trends Facing Sales Leaders Today'. This material is offered freely here and is in itself very useful document for sales planning and development.
When the Sales Activator® was first launched in 2004, like many new things it was a relatively expensive package - over £2,000 per unit. Happily in recent years the system's popularity has enabled increased production volumes, better economies of scale, and sizeable price reductions, so the system is now priced at £1,250 plus VAT (where applicable) and delivery, which includes a four hour 'Getting Started' session. The session is delivered face-to-face in the UK and online to companies outside of the UK. Subsequent Sales Activator® units can then be purchased at £500 each, which arguably makes the Sales Activator® a relatively easily affordable investment for any company or provider working in the field of sales skills or sales team development.
Businessballs does not receive a commission for referring you to the Sales Activator® sales training and development system.
Instead this payment has been converted into a 15% discount off the Sales Activator® for visitors to the Businessballs website.
Here is the Businessballs discount link for the Sales Activator®>. Businessballs discount code is 73upaC.
The Sales Activator® is supplied with a no quibble money-back guarantee.
More information and full contact details are at The Sales Activator Company Limited.
- sales research - relating to the development of the Sales Activator® concept
- sales training history, theories and techniques - from AIDA to Buying Facilitation®
- cold calling tips
- Sharon Drew Morgen's Buying Facilitation® concept overview
- sales games and team building games ideas and techniques
- sales and team building games, exercises and activities for sales teams and other groups
- word-play puzzles and games for quizzes and exercises
- stories and analogies for training, public-speaking and writing
- difficult puzzles for teams
- acronyms and training models, plus amusing diversions and distractions for training sessions