March 14, 2019

Effective sales training is based on two criteria

effective sales training

Effective sales training is almost a Grail quest. Even when sales professionals are trained, the return on investment is pretty dismal.

If the Chally Group is to be believed, that is.

The Chally Group, a big data outfit has conducted endless research on what makes sales teams tick. Its outlook is not encouraging for sales managers: 80% of your sales team is only hitting 42% of its target.

There’s no doubt that sales managers in the main are struggling and failing to motivate their teams to hit 100% of their target.

The frustrating thing for sales managers is that their sales teams have probably all been on sales training. Clearly, if the Chally Group’s figures hold water, which I have no doubt they do, then effective sales training is hard to come by. Or worse, finding effective sales professionals is really a Grail Quest.

selling skills training
Effective training is hard to come by.

When a sales team or the majority of the individuals in that team aren’t performing, sales managers need to ask themselves, “Is it a skills problem or is it an attitude problem?”

These are the two criteria and it’s an easy distinction to make.

  • If the sales professional has never been trained to sell then it’s a skills problem
  • If the sales professional has been trained to sell then it’s an attitude problem

Effective training should produce results. The skill that it takes to sell isn’t rocket science. In a nutshell, this is what 99% of sales courses base their content on:

  • Prospecting – lead generation, lead scoring and the like
  • Telephone skills – getting the appointment
  • The appointment: build rapport, elevator pitch, discovery process (finding the pain points through effective questioning techniques (closed probes, open probes and evaluative probes)), pitching, closing and overcoming objections)
  • Customer relationship management
  • Key account management – keeping and growing your best customers

That’s the gist of it.

Of course, if sales professionals were robots and not humans it would be easy to implement the sales training, press a button and yay; everyone hits their sales targets. So, every sales training course should probably have an attitude session in it. But it’s hard to teach attitude, grit, determination, character, resilience, work ethic and the like. I’m getting more and more convinced that these values are instilled in our youth or not.

“Give me the boy and I’ll give you the man.”

Francis of Assisi

To set a sales team up for success there’s no doubt that every member should go through some kind of foundational sales training.

When I ask experienced selling professionals (for argument sake, 35+ old who’re on my sales training why they’re there (besides that their sales manager said they have to be on the training), they’ll say something like, “I just want to learn some new sales tips” or “I just need a refresher course”.

effective sales training
I need a refresher course

They don’t really need a refresher course, they need to be reintroduced to why they’re in the sales game. Those that aren’t performing have probably been worn out and demotivated by the countless rejections, excuses and lost deals (and dreams). They need to adjust their attitude. Simply put, the fight has to be put back into the (sales) dog so that the dog can get back into the fight.

It has become apparent to me that one can’t lump the entire team into a foundational sales training process. Those that need sales skills have different needs to those that have lost their mojo.

Freshly minted sales professionals need skills. Seasoned sales professionals need attitude if effective sales training is to be realised.

Those that need skills would probably be under 35. They’re in a different phase of their lives. They’re young, energetic, goal-driven and enthusiastic. Their attention is on security and significance. They want the trappings of success – house, car, holidays and the like. Like all of us, they also need recognition. They strive for significance (to make their mark in the world).

Seasoned sales professionals are in a different phase of their life (35+). They’re looking for more than stuff … they’re looking for fulfilment and happiness. Most have some kind of existential crisis. Who am I? What have I achieved? Why have I failed? We’re talking mid-life crisis time.

In my opinion, when it comes to training, we should look at where the members of our team are at: security/significance or fulfilment/happiness.

If we want effective sales training, that is.

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