Bryan Feller Featured in San Diego Biz Journal
Bryan Feller Associates is featured as a provider of innovative, highly customized, sales training solutions available in the San Diego Area.
Lessons in Effective Selling Are Taught in Many Formats
By Mark Larson
Having the skills needed to more effectively sell a product or service is a key component of myriad educational offerings in San Diego. Sales education is offered in university classrooms, by private schools offering corporate business-to-business sales teams techniques to boost their numbers and in night schools for professionals trying to improve their careers.
In this Special Report article, the San Diego Business Journal examines three such programs, at San Diego State University, Bryan Feller Associates and the University of Phoenix Inc. Steven Osinski teaches sales at SDSU from the perspective of someone with a lot of business experience, rather than from academia. He sold his Florida ad agency in October 1998 to Monster.com, and for the past three years has been a lecturer to upper-level SDSU students on sales strategies. “Sales is the most lucrative profession in business,” said Osinski. “But it has a horrible reputation. I teach students that if they solve customers’ needs, there’s a greater likelihood of exceeding their goals for generating deals.”
Guest Lectures Enliven Textbooks
Along with the class textbook’s eight steps of targeting and cultivating relationships for sales, Osinski stresses the “five P’s: Proper planning prevents poor performance.” Overview topics include how to meet a potential sales client, make a presentation, handle client objections, transact a sale and conduct after-sales activities. Osinski also brings in guest lecturers who make their living in sales to share on the job strategies. He covers ethics: “If you ever saw ‘Glengarry Glen Ross,’ that’s not how to be a salesperson,” he says. And students are assigned a project in which they role-play a product or service pitch to a company with a 30-minute class presentation. “A lot of large corporations have their own selling approach and strategy,” said Osinski. “Students get a good overview, and the biggest thing I stress is to serve the customer’s needs above all else.” But among his biggest messages to students is that they can never learn all there is to know about selling. “I tell them, as we age, we realize there’s less that we know,” said Osinski. “For every circumstance in life or in sales, we continually have to relearn.”
Custom Strategies for Companies
Bryan Feller is president of Bryan Feller Associates, a Claremont company that offers corporate training team sessions nationally, including in San Diego. His company has sharpened the sales strategies of big companies such as United Air Lines Inc., Bausch & Lomb Inc. and Capital One. “We customize sales training; we don’t do open enrollment,” said Feller. “No matter what business you’re in, every sale is a technical sale.” He figures that for most sales training sessions, participants come away remembering about 5 percent of the covered information. “We build a customer sales playbook,” said Feller. “We actually ride along on sales calls and grade the practices they are using.” Recently, Bryan Feller Associates assembled three sales playbooks for a LensCrafters Inc. division. Included were videotaped sales role-playing scenarios accessible on an iPhone or iPad as a reference. One technique to learn more about the client’s needs is the use of a general open-ended question such as, “Tell me a little about your budget plan?” From client answers to that, more specific questions are asked to help the salesperson sharpen a sales strategy.
Tips for Engaging Clients
For instance, says Feller, salespeople for a high-end speaker company found it hard to get the attention of electronics dealers that it wanted to sell the speakers to. But when dealers were convinced to take a demonstration ride in a car and listen to music over the speakers, they got enthused about the quality of the speakers. The typical sales call, says Feller, is called, “show up, throw up and leave.” “You can make money doing that, but you’re not going to change people’s behavior,” he added. More effective, he says, is taking the time to engage a client by going through a conversational checklist crafted to get a sale. His company recently assembled a 400-page sales playbook for Bausch & Lomb, along with 50 sales role-playing videos. “It has everything you need to know about selling contact lenses,” said Feller. New sales reps to a company are helped the most by the information, he adds, which quickly brings them up to speed on selling for the company in a systematic, understandable way.
Michael Bevis, chairman of the University of Phoenix School of Business in San Diego, teaches sales and marketing as a concentration option for the latter two years of a four-year business degree. Among the faculty are working professionals who teach sales and marketing with a real-world perspective of what sales skills are most in demand.
Seven Local Learning Centers
The university has seven learning centers in the region, including one in Chula Vista. Most students prefer in-class training over online options, says Bevis. Among the skills most in demand, he says, is the ability to communicate a single voice sales message across various new media formats on Web sites, online chat rooms and social media sites. “It’s important for students to understand that traditional ways of advertising were geared around TV and print, but there’s been a huge shift in focus,” said Bevis, explaining the redirection toward digital media. Students in the evening classes are taught skills to help them advance in their current companies or prepare them for a better job. “We’re not just focused on sales and marketing,” said Bevis. “We focus on negotiations, partnerships and alliances within an organization, how to communicate across groups versus one-on-one and cultural variances.”
Mark Larson is a freelance writer for the San Diego Business Journal.
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