On a sunny afternoon in March we sneaked into one of the meeting rooms at STIHL Benelux in Puurs. Not coincidentally, of course. There was a sales training happening that we wanted to witness…

“Who knows what LSD means?” A little bit of hilarity and disbelief rippled through the room, with us as well! Had we made the mistake of entering the wrong room? Are there any products in the STIHL range that we are not yet aware of? The voice of trainer Serge quickly drew us back earth-side. “LSD stands for Listen, Summarize and Ask Additional Questions,” Serge says. “That is what every salesperson must always remember and apply. In every conversation with every customer.” The tone has been set. This is not a training for the faint of heart.

A while ago, STIHL Benelux decided to conduct a customer satisfaction survey. Mystery shoppers from customer experience expert Multi-Value were sent to buy a chainsaw from various STIHL dealers. Or not, depending on the quality of the sales conversation. The results of the study were generally positive. A pleasant result, but ‘good’ can always become ‘better’.

Based on the collected points of improvement, Multi-Value prepared a sales training, completely tailored to STIHL. The training has now been organized ten times, for a total of approximately 120 employees from dealers in the Benelux. The day-long program is built around the four important A’s of a sales conversation: Address, Analyze, Advise and Agree to close. Trainer Serge likes to summarize: “From the moment a customer enters the showroom until the sale is closed – that is, after all, the goal – you as a seller must be alert. You must hear and remember everything that is said, but it is also best to learn to read body language. Most participants in this training have very thorough technical knowledge. It is mainly their soft skills that we need to improve on here.”

“The LSD technique is important to find out exactly what a customer is looking for and why,” Serge continues. “If you know this, you can more easily convince the customer, with benefits that apply to his or her individual situation.”

Following this sales training is not a punishment. Serge remains enthusiastic all day long and he really gives off the impression that he knows what he is talking about. “STIHL was very involved throughout the entire preliminary process. My colleagues and I received a very thorough product presentation and we first tested the format internally.”

Serge knows perfectly how to involve everyone

At the end of the day we asked some participants what they thought. Tessa, Robin and Sven, three sales employees of Lambrechts Tuinmachines in Leuven and Tienen, unanimously agree. “I am really pleasantly surprised,” says Sven. “I was a little worried that this would be about ‘push sales’, but that was not the case at all. We were presented with very recognizable situations for which we had to come up with practical solutions. It was nice to share experiences with colleagues from other dealers and learn from each other in this way.” Tessa adds: “I have only been employed at Lambrechts Tuinmachines for three weeks, so I have learned a lot today. The many practical examples will stay with me for a long time and will certainly help me to do my job better.” Robin was especially happy with the constant interaction. “The day flew by, I wasn’t bored for one second. Serge regularly spoke to us personally and managed to pull everyone out of their comfort zone. Individual working points were discussed openly and it did not feel awkward at all.” Robin, who has been doing this job for five years, concludes honestly: “My eyes have really been opened in some areas. That you can talk to a customer about the available budget, for example. I would have never dared to do that before.”

A series of sales training courses will be organized again in the autumn. Will your team register? Anyone that was there today knows that there are only two answers to that question.
Yes or yes? Then we have a deal!

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