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If I Have to Sit Through One More Sales Training Class...
You have the right to be educated, trained,
motivated, and prepared to leave the training session with improved selling
capabilities, no matter how much experience you have.
I recently spoke
with a colleague who is a partner in an outsourced telesales firm. I know
him from his past life as a salesrep. He worked for some big name
technology companies and was consistently the top performer. He is a sales
heavy-hitter if there ever was one.
We were discussing sales
training. He said, "I can't tell you how many sales training
programs I've sat through. Every major vendor. The programs were
too long, didn't provide me with value, and frankly were an incredible waste of
time." Here is what got me. "I was offended that
management would think so little of me to force me to sit through
that." That was it for me. I decided it was time to directly
appeal to you, the sales professional about the abuse many of you have been
You have the right to be
educated, trained, motivated, and prepared to leave the training session with
improved selling capabilities, no matter how much experience you have.
Does this person need training? Sure. He admits he does. But
the training he needs has to provide him with business value--it's got to help
him do one thing--sell more.
Here are some of those
- Being trained by someone who never sold.
- Being trained by someone who doesn't know
anything about how your buyers buy.
- Being trained by someone who clearly
doesn't understand how tough your competitors are.
- Being trained by someone who is more
focused on entertaining you than helping you get your job done, so they
get good marks on the post-program evaluation.
- Being trained by someone who tells you what
to do, but not how to do it.
- Being trained by someone who lectures every
moment without the necessary balance which would include workshops,
exercises, discussions, contests, debates, etc.
- Forced to sit in a training class where 80%
of what you learn is irrelevant to you, even though it may be to some of
the people in the program.
- Being trained on a skill or a process only
to find out after the program that there are no tools, no support, and
management doesn't know what you are talking about.
- Being trained by a manager whom you don't
respect and who doesn't have training skills.
- Spending three days in a class where you've
gotten an hour of value.
- Coming out of a class confused about what
to do next.
- Not having any post-program support from
your management or the training provider.
Why is this going on?
When abuses like this
happen, there is generally plenty of blame to pass around. But the blame
rarely falls in the lap of the sales professional. You have the right to
be educated, trained, motivated, and prepared to leave the training session
with improved selling capabilities, no matter how much experience you have. You
have the responsibility of walking into a training program with an open mind,
ready and willing to learn, share your experiences, and to do what it takes to
elevate yourself and your team to the next level of sales performance.
You do not have the responsibility of having your time wasted and your
experience and intelligence insulted.
Here are some possible
What should you, as a sales rep, do?
- Sales management picked a sales trainer out
of the hat. More accurately they chose someone they engaged with before in
another job, or whose book they read (not that that is necessarily a
- Sales management didn't have their training
requirements defined. When there is a heterogeneous sales team, for
example experienced and new reps, or reps who sell different types of
products into different markets, there is a big challenge. A big
one. If it is not managed properly, the program will be irrelevant
to half the audience half the time.
- There is no foundation methodology and
related processes to be trained on, so the training has no
foundation. It's just a bunch of unrelated skills. Some of
those may help you win some business, but in the long term, they won't
amount to much. (There are some skills that are less integral to a
specific selling process, like cold calling and negotiations.)
The sales training vendor did not provide a
- The training program content was not
relevant to your job. It may have come off-the-shelf, or have been
designed for customers in another industry.
- There was inadequate or no educational
design. The content may have been relevant, but it was not delivered
to you in a way that would promote learning.
- Management felt that training was the right
thing to do, but wasn't really behind it.
- There wasn't a strategic plan to get and
keep you trained.
If you saw the movie Network,
you'll remember the phrase, "I'm sick and tired of this and I'm not going
to take it anymore." Even I'll admit that getting your colleagues
together and storming into your sales VP's office is a bit extreme. But
there are things you can do.
- Understand that pragmatic sales processes
and the training that supports their use is good for you, not bad.
- Understand that you were hired because you
had a set of skills and traits that met the requirements for the job, but
that professionals (think pilots, doctors, realtors, teachers) need
continuous education. If you don't think you do, you're probably
- Provide management with specific areas
where you and your team need formal processes. For example, if you are
having trouble qualifying buyers or are told to cold call but don't have a
script, say so.
- Provide management with a list of skills in
which you need training. Strongly request that management take the
time and effort to find the right vendor to provide that training.
It may not be one of the well-known providers.
- Request that a bit more work go into
providing training targeted to different groups within sales.
- Suggest that you and perhaps another rep or
two be part of a steering committee to get this right, once and for all.
- Implore management to explore a blended
training approach where feasible, where alternatives to classroom training
this complimentary ESR/Insight
brief and send it to your sales manager.
To the Point:
Getting sales training
right is very tough. It's not like training someone to answer a support
call or balance the books. Many companies try, but get it all
wrong. Some have it totally figured out. Take a leadership position
in your company to drive a formal, funded sales training strategy. If
done right, you'll make more money and have a company you're proud to work for.
, after 25 years in sales leadership positions and delivering
his own sales training and consulting worldwide, founded ES Research Inc. ESR offers
independent, authoritative advice on Sales Training and Consulting and
the Companies that provide it through weekly briefs, in-depth reports,
online seminars and advisory services. For more information go to www.ESResearch.com
or call 508.313.9585
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