What’s the point of Sales Training?

A common conversation we often have with salespeople and sales managers is focussed around the point of sales training. Let’s face it, if you’re a moderately successful salesperson, you’ll have enough confidence to believe in yourself and therefore negate the need to improve.
When broaching this subject, I usually ask a number of questions:
  1. How much time have you invested in training, skills development or performance management?
    • In my experience the answer to this question is usually very vague. Only a small number of sales professionals have actually spent a large amount of time in learning, training and developing their sales skills. Surprisingly, most salespeople we come into contact with have had little or no credible training or development. This means they are usually operating at a level far below their potential peak performance. Considering sales is an industry whereby those involved in it are paid on their performance, this seems like a good place to start.
  2. What’s your short-, mid- or long-term plan for performance growth?
    • It still, to this day, surprises me how many ‘professional salespeople’ have no answer to this question. No plan, no goal to improve or to earn more, other than the hope they will perform well. This often leads to inconsistent results, reactive ‘knee jerk’ decisions and reduced performance. Having a clear plan in place, even if it changes, is often the catalyst for greater success.
  3. How much time do you set aside for performance management?
    • You’ve only got to look at professional sports to see the impact of an effective management process. The top performers and teams don’t get there by accident. It comes through proper planning and preparation, monitoring of activity and performance and managing though effective measurement.
There are also a couple of ‘cheeky’ questions I like to ask to open up the discussion like:
Are you busy at the moment?
This usually provokes an initial positive response, followed by a list of reasons why they aren’t really as busy as they’d like to be or selling as much as they want to.
Are you making too much money?
Always a great question, that invariable results in a negative response.
If after a short discussion based around these or similar questions the person doesn’t see why they’d benefit from sales training, then they probably won’t grasp it at this point.
Sales training, like any training is about self-development. In a field that success is not only based on your performance, but is also linked to your income, why would you not want to be performing at your best level, all of the time.
There’s a great scene in the movie ‘Man on Fire’ starring Denzel Washington in which he spends time coaching his ‘principle’ to swim. At the end of a successful swim whereby she achieves her target time, he tells her the result, she replies ‘I’m tough Creasy’ (character name). He replies ‘Yeah, there’s no such thing as tough, there’s trained and untrained, now which are you?’


Thank you for reading

– Alan


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