Most of it, anyway, is actually terrible.
I write this knowing that it could be confusing since many of you would consider what we do at The Selling Agency as “Sales Training.”
Hear me out.
When I look back at my years as an Account Executive in multiple organizations, I can recall almost every single sales training investment my employer made. They were all mostly similar . . .
“Here’s the latest sales training trend based on my new(est) book. Don’t do it your old way. Do it this way, and everyone wins.”
My colleagues and I sat through 1 to 3 days of training and then back at work Monday, no one ever mentioned it again.
People HATE training – especially Sales Training – for several reasons –
- It’s an “event” – instead of an ongoing dedication to learning and improvement.
- It’s gimmick, technique, or trend-based.
- It’s boring and lecture-style.
- It’s about processes and products – not skill.
- It’s not relevant to what they actually need help with.
- The trainer hasn’t sold anything EVER – or in a very long time.
- Training objectives are misaligned – aligned to the amount of time to train, aligned to reflect what’s important to the trainer, or aligned to some complex system the trainer created.
- Or – training is put in the hands of a well-meaning sales performer – who rambles on preaching about how they paved their path to success.
- They know no one will hold them accountable to change behavior, thus wasting their time spent in training.
- Thus – sellers think their tie is better spent out selling, than learning.
I too hate all these things on the list.
I too have experienced all the things on the list.
That’s why I’m DEAD SET against creating any of the scenarios on that list.
I would even change the name of what we do to SKILLS BUILDING or SKILLS DEVELOPMENT to set aside your previous experiences with training. Though, in any other context, a “Trainer” – like a Personal Trainer or a Sports Trainer – is someone who helps you improve performance and results over time.
But here, we try to challenge your previous experiences to be the “Anti-Trainers” – engaging sellers in their OWN process of skill development, behavior change, and performance improvement.
So, before you decide to bring a Sales Trainer to your group or D-I-Yourself Sales Training with your top performers – Consider how to create a remarkably different experience with awesome results.
- Customization – Rarely is any off-the-shelf training system a perfect fit for your team. A great experience feels personal and personalized with relevant examples, lessons in context to real clients, and practice directed towards existing or upcoming situations. Knowledge about previous wins and losses and even the company culture contribute to training that feels less like “preaching” and more like tailored learning.
- Collaboration – What do your sellers want in sales training? How do they learn best? Your Sales Trainers should incorporate input from the sales team when developing exercises and sessions. Teams are more engaged and participate with open minds when they see their insights reflected in the work you do
- Support and Accountability – According to several studies, close to half (48%) sales training lessons are lost within 5 weeks of implementation if there is no follow-up and 84% of old habits reappear after 90 days. However, those same studies have also found that as little as 60 minutes a month is sufficient to allow almost 90% retention. Think “Skills” instead of training – in that Skills take time and practice to perfect. A one-off session is not a great use of your investment. The Selling Agency approach takes a minimum 3 touch approach (pre-session, session, and post-session support).
- Entertaining and Fun – The energy and attitude of your trainer set the pace and tone for the entire session. Look to elevate the natural dynamics of your group with a personality that can hold their attention, earn their respect with thoughtful lessons and exercises, and engage their participation with hands-on and collaborative examples.
- Measurable Goals/Results – This isn’t always something your Sales Trainer, ahem, or Sales Skills Development Specialist, can track, but YOU can for your sales team! What is your starting point? What are you measuring? How are you tracking progress and success? When our clients are intentional and diligent about tracking results, everyone is more engaged and purposeful about putting lessons into practice.
I’ve sat in too many boring sales training sessions as a seller and witnessed eye rolls and skepticism when I show up to tell you that people LOVE to attend Sales Training. It’s gotten a bad rap both by those DELIVERING sessions and by those investing in training to improve results.
If you’re a Sales Leader, YOU have the opportunity to create stellar results with your team by approaching Skill Development armed with what your sellers HATE about training and what makes for awesome results.
Until next time, stop hoping, and start SELLING!