dale carnegie sales training

Leverage the work of Dale Carnegie for your Sales Training

How to Win Sales and Influence Your Pipeline: that’s what Dale Carnegie’s timeless novel should have been named, as it’s one of the best resources for sales training available today. 

With more than 15M copies sold worldwide, Carnegie’s classic is chock full of insight into understanding how to deal with people and succeed in life. At its core, Sales is about understanding people, which is why Dale Carnegie’s insights should be a staple within your sales training! 

From handling conflict (negotiation) to winning someone’s time (setting meetings), How to Win Friends and Influence People could easily be used as your entire sales training manual!

Let’s go over some of the top tips from Dale Carnegie that you can begin to implement in your sales training today to start coaching your team into rockstars. 

Make people feel important in order to win the sale

When dealing with people it’s important to remember that humans all want the same thing. Sure, we may look different or have different values or live entirely different lives, but at our core, humans all share the same desire: to feel important. Carnegie points out that in order to get someone to do something, you must make them feel important, and lead them to want to do the thing. 

Sales is all about persuasion and conviction, which is why the same product or service can sell exceptionally better by one salesman versus another. Good sales people know how to make their prospects feel important and heard, which is automatically disarming.

A big mistake most sales reps make is doing most of the talking during the sales call, when really they should be letting the prospect lead the conversation – to both grant the feeling of importance, and to gain as much insight as possible during the probing phase. 

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For your sales training, reference Dale Carnegie’s examples of how to make your prospect feel important. Stage role plays with your team and have them practice asking questions to their prospects. Taking it a step further, train your sales reps to research their prospects and find something significant they can compliment them on before the call, which will further instill the feeling of importance within your prospects! 

Train your sales reps to identify and arouse an eager want 

Bait the hook to suit the fish. This principle is about understanding the wants and needs of whomever you’re dealing with and catering your message to reflect those wants. 

This might sound obvious enough, but you’d be surprised how many sales reps get this wrong. Carnegie provides several examples throughout the book of sales reps leading the conversation by starting with their wants and needs, which is a huge mistake.

For example, how many times have you received a cold email that started with “our company is the leader in xyz, we have many big clients, I am writing to you to request a meeting….” ? Countless. 

The problem with this approach is the person receiving the message doesn’t care about the wants or needs of your sales reps, he cares about himself. Carnegie goes on to say that in order to be successful in sales, you should always start by addressing the wants of your buyer first, never mentioning the things you want. 

Use this principle in  your sales training by teaching your reps to always begin their sales calls by asking open-ended probing questions, and thinking about what the prospect wants. Here are some questions to ask: 

  • What is the top priority for my prospect?
  • What do I have to offer that will help them with their top priority?
  • How can I position my pitch to cater to their wants? 

Train your sales reps to get their prospects saying “yes” as soon as possible

This is one of the oldest sales training tips in the book, but Carnegie gives deeper context to why it’s so important. Often in sales you are trying to get the person to do something they aren’t already doing. It is very rare that a person comes to you fully ready to buy with his mind made up, which is why the art of sales depends on convincing people to buy your product. 

Carnegie focuses says “in talking with people, don’t begin by discussing things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing – and keep on emphasizing – the things on which you agree. Keep emphasizing, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that the only difference is one of method and not of purpose.” 

What an incredibly simple yet powerful tactic. Let’s apply this to your sales training. Your reps will often come across many objections throughout their sales careers, and the human instinct when presented with arguments (objections) is to defend and further explain your point. However, top sales reps know that the key to objection handling is to get the prospect to agree with them – say yes – as many times as possible during the conversation. 

Socrates, the greatest philosopher to ever live, embodied this principle in his technique which has now been dubbed the Socratic method. His process centered around getting a “yes, yes” response, and he did so by asking questions that the person would have to agree to.

Carnegie explains Socrates “ would continue asking questions, getting yes after yes, until finally, almost without realizing it, his opponents found themselves embracing a conclusion they would have bitterly denied a few minutes previously.” 

Now let’s take a look at how you can apply this in your sales training! Have your reps role play with each other and begin the probing process by asking questions your prospect must agree with. For example, “you are seeking an affordable solution that will meet all your needs, correct?” or “although you’ve been with your current provider for a significant amount of time, you mentioned the service is not as fast as you would like – so finding a faster service provider would be a great win for you, right?”. 

Have your sales reps come up with lists of questions like this and get them in the habit of asking questions that will lead to the “yes, yes” response to increase their chances of closing. 

Dale Carnegie’s tips about dealing with people are used in sales trainings worldwide, but they can be applied to everyday life, too! If you haven’t read the book yet, I highly suggest you pick up a copy today. It’s a quick read but the lessons learned will have a lasting impact.

Last but not least, what about using a Sales Enablement Platform such as 360Learning to compile all best practices for your new Sales Reps? This can have a tremendous business impact and ensure you hit your quota much faster than usual!