Direct Sales Training Ideas

February 19, 2020 | Direct Sales

Tina Nicola, M.A.

Tina is the founder of and has been creating profitable marketing and exhibit strategies for startups, small businesses and nonprofits for over nineteen years. Her main goal is to broaden access to the techniques she has developed so anyone can benefit and improve exhibiting strategy, sales conversations and follow up.

Need to train staff or clients to sell at a direct sales event? We’ve been there. Here’s our list of the most important direct sales training ideas you’ll need to cover to turn beginners into direct sales pros.

This list of direct sales training ideas is based on over a decade of real-world experience. These ideas are covered in-depth in our online video course Tradeshow Basecamp™: Full Course Series for Teams!

Let’s get started!

Direct Sales Strategy Plan: Teach the Five Easy Steps

Sales can be very intimidating for beginners. Even those with experience with direct sales can develop bad habits that reduce their chances to sell. Unfortunately, this can spell ruin for a small business or startup paying big bucks for a direct sales event that doesn’t end up producing revenue.

Start with strategy

We’ve found that the easiest way to approach direct sales training is to start with a clear step-by-step strategy.

Here are the five easy steps to having a successful direct sales conversation, based on our acclaimed online video training course series Tradeshow Basecamp™!

  1. Icebreaker
  2. Quick Intro
  3. Lead Interview
  4. Next Steps
  5. Disengagement

Start conversations with potential customers passing by your exhibit (or, already in your exhibit!) using Icebreakers (open-ended questions are most effective). Once you’ve got the potential customer’s attention, introduce yourself, your product or your company using a pre-prepared Quick Intro (learn more about the Quick Intro). Then, use the Lead Interview to ask the right questions to quickly determine if this person is a potential customer that could lead to a sale now or in the near future. Are they a good lead? Propose Next Steps that get you closer to a sale! Not a good lead? Jump to the Disengagement!

Check out our in-depth article for more ideas on how to introduce your staff to the five easy steps involved in this proven Direct Sales Strategy.

After introducing the Five Easy Steps, create a role-playing scenario to illustrate them. Need ideas?

Check out our Direct Sales Strategy Example. Read the script or watch us role-play a direct sales conversation using the Five Easy Steps! In our example, a tech startup ‘Newbie’ has a successful conversation with a trade show lead using the Five Easy Steps.

Want to train yourself or staff quickly?

Learn more about our Direct Sales Training Courses

Direct Sales Training Ideas: Decide Sales Goals

Time is money

Explain to your team that every conversation at a direct sales event should be driven by the organization’s specific sales goals. At a direct sales event, time is money. Every minute spent on a conversation that will never lead to a sale is a conversation you are not having with someone who might actually buy.

Ask your team to brainstorm the sales goals that are relevant for your company and its products. Here are some examples of common sales goals:

  • Signing up leads to watch a product demo
  • Giving out a product sample
  • Creating a ‘price quote’
  • Collecting contact information
  • and of course, making a sale!

Prioritize the Sales Goals

Sometimes the team you are training already have sales goals created by the company’s executive team or marketing department. If so, great! Your job is easier. Still, you’ll want to make sure that those general sales goals are appropriate for the specific direct sales event you are preparing for.

Ask your team to place the sales goals they came up with in the right place along the Sales Funnel.

Introduce the Sales Funnel

Explain the concept of a ‘Sales Funnel’ to your team. The Sales Funnel represents the customer’s journey from being aware of your product or company to actually making a purchase from your company. The top, wide part of the funnel represents your broadest base of potential customers. The bottom, narrow part of the funnel represents actual customers who buy your product or service. In between, there are many steps the potential customer takes to move them toward being actual customers. Each of these steps might represent a sales goal for your staff.

Do most customers need to see a demo before making a purchase? Make signing up for a demo a sales goal! Do customers look for unbiased reviews of your product before buying? Make sharing these customer reviews via a website link or handout one of your sales goals!

Want to learn more about the Sales Funnel?

Take one of our Direct Sales Training Courses

Direct Sales Training Ideas: Brainstorm Icebreakers

Now, it’s time to take a closer look at each of the five easy steps involved in direct sales conversations.

In our direct sales training course, we teach that the Icebreaker should be done with the following in mind:

  • Active Sales Starts with the Icebreaker – Use active rather than passive sales strategies!
  • Be Active, Not Pushy – Don’t confuse being active with being pushy
  • Great Icebreakers – How to create killer Icebreakers that actually stop traffic and start direct sales conversations

Open-ended questions are better at starting conversations with potential customers than close-ended ones. An open-ended question like ‘What are you looking for at the show?’ is more likely to get a passerby to pause and stop to think of an answer. In contrast, a close-ended question like ‘Are you finding what you are looking for at the show?’ can be answered with a ‘yes’ and the passerby may not even break their stride as they walk on by you! This offers you no chance for a conversation that might lead to a sale.

Ask your team to brainstorm Icebreakers that your company can use in your trade show exhibit to strike up conversations with potential customers passing by, or those in your exhibit already.

Direct Sales Training Ideas: Brainstorm Quick Intros

Work with your team to create Quick Intros for your company or organization. Click to learn more about creating great Quick Intros. Make sure the team understands that a Quick Intro should be short – just 2-3 sentences. This is not the time to launch into a ‘sales pitch.’

Explain how to transition from the Quick Intro to the Lead Interview using a short, strategic question.

Ask your team to brainstorm Quick Intros that your company can use in your trade show exhibit to share valuable information about your product or service and to keep the conversation going!

Direct Sales Training Ideas: Brainstorm Lead Interview Questions

Now the meat of the conversation… the Lead Interview (Step #3)!

Teach your team to use the Lead Interview to decide as quickly as possible if the person they are speaking with is a good lead. Use Information gathered to better sell your product to good leads. Or, identify effective Next Steps.

In our direct sales training course, we break down the ‘Lead Interview‘:

  • Who is a good lead? Teach how to identify a good lead using six proven criteria: Authority, Compatibility, Timeline, Identity, Obstacles and Need.
  • Active Listening – Explain that the team needs to use active listening strategies to conduct an effective Lead Interview. Question/answer, soundbites not pitches!
  • Four People You Will Meet – Learn how to identity these four characters at a direct sales event: Ms. Right, Mr. Maybe, Mr. Bridges, and Dracula! Tailor your Next Steps according to the character (Learn more with our direct sales training course!)

Ask your team to brainstorm questions that they can ask naturally of a potential customer to determine if they are a ‘good lead’—a person likely to buy a product now or in the near future.

Click to learn more about how to create great Lead Interview questions.

Direct Sales Training Ideas: Identify Next Steps

Next Steps are the next steps you can take (or the customer will commit to) to get you closer to a sales goal or an actual sale. Discuss with your team what Next Steps might look like depending on the potential customer’s answers to the Lead Interview questions that they brainstormed.

In our direct sales training course, we break down the Next Steps into these direct sales training topics:

  • Decide Next Steps – Decide on the best Next Steps to take with a potential customer that meet sales goals—including making the sale!
  • When No is a Maybe – What to do if you encounter a No during a sales conversation. How to switch sales goals based on a No by suggesting a sales goal that requires less commitment.
  • You Are In Control – Discuss common sales fears and how to overcome them. Example? “I need to have all the answers.”

Direct Sales Training Ideas: Brainstorm Disengagements

Decide when and how to disengage—end the conversation—with potential customers. Explain to your team how failing to disengage with a poor lead is a major cause of wasted time and money at direct sales events!

Ask the team to brainstorm Disengagements that they feel comfortable saying when they realize a potential customer is not a good lead. A “It doesn’t sound like we’d be the best fit for you right now, but let’s keep in touch. Thanks for dropping by!” sounds easy enough, but in our experience, it helps for staff to prepare these types of statements in advance and practice them.

Role Play

Prepare some scenarios involving potential customers and invite your team to role play sales conversations. Give the potential customer a back story, but don’t tell the person playing the role of the sales staff this story. They need to uncover it using the Lead Interview!

Our Tradeshow Basecamp: Lead Role Play Supplement is a great way for you and your staff to practice the lessons learned in our Tradeshow Basecamp™ courses.

A Direct Sales Beginner?
The training you need…
Tradeshow Basecamp™

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A Direct Sales Beginner?The training you need...Tradeshow Basecamp™

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