Selling is a complex, dynamic, human interaction. Most people—including most salespeople—don’t find it to be easy, starting with the first commitment, the commitment for time to explore change. Most organizations leave their sales force to figure out how to improve their performance, even though their experience provides evidence that this is a poor strategy.
As a leader, if you want better sales results, you will need to train, develop, and coach your salespeople. As an individual, if you’re going to improve in your chosen craft, you should never stop learning. Training is one of the ways to improve your skills and develop the character traits necessary for success.
1. It’s Too Expensive to Train
If you believe training your sales force is expensive, wait until you discover what it costs you to send them out into the world without arming them with the mindset, skill sets, and tool kits they need to succeed. In almost every circumstance, the investment return can be found in a single additional won deal. This is stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. What makes selling expensive is not creating enough opportunities, and losing a large percentage of the opportunities you pursue.
2. Training Doesn’t Work
Training doesn’t work if you don’t. Training always works when you train, develop, and drill the content, ensuring that your sales force is acting on what they learned. Sales professionals who do the work always get better, while those who don’t do the work struggle to improve. As a leader, if you aren’t engaged in the training processes and holding your team accountable, it’s not the training that isn’t working.
3. Training Takes Too Much Time
Almost no one sends their team away for a full week of training. Most training is done over a day or two. Still, almost any modern offering is going to provide sales training programs made up of smaller learning modules with answers available on demand. Skill attainment is better when it is done in smaller segments and reinforced in the field. You can provide your team with world-class training in thirty-minutes a week.
4. Salespeople Are Born not Made
Even though it isn’t a popular idea, some salespeople are born. They have fast rapport skills, and people want to buy from them. However, most are made, even if few managers and leaders do the work necessary to make a consultative sales team. No one is born with the knowledge of consultative sales processes, buyer methods, the ability to build consensus, or all other concepts necessary to succeed in B2B sales. Training, development, and coaching is how you make salespeople.
5. My Salespeople Don’t Need Training
The more you believe this is true, the more likely it is false. The longer a salesperson has been selling, the more unlikely they are aware of what is necessary to succeed in sales now, something you might call a modern sales approach. What is also true is that the longer your sales force has been selling, the easier it is for them to pick up new concepts, strategies, tactics, and talk tracks. To believe that people don’t need b2b sales training and development is to deny the truth that everyone is capable of growth and improvement.
6. I Can Train Them Myself
Every manager or leader should believe that they can and should train their salespeople, something necessary for making change stick. There are very few organizations that have the process, the methodologies, the concepts, strategies, tactics, and playbooks to train their own sales force. Without a curriculum and a full complement of tools and assessments, you miss too many resources, something you can acquire when you train your team.
7. They’ll Forget Everything in Two Weeks
Research suggests this is true, but this isn’t why salespeople don’t adopt what they have learned. They don’t adopt what they’ve learned because they are not held accountable for changing their approach and practicing the new skills and strategies. The training outcomes are only found when the managers and leaders hold the individuals on their team accountable for applying what they’ve learned.
8. I Only Hire People with Experience
There are advantages to hiring salespeople who have occupied that role in previous jobs, and there is little doubt that they have learned much by selling. But the fact that someone has worked in sales is no indication that they have had any training or that they have had any coaching or real development opportunities. It’s almost certain they haven’t. Every experienced salesperson you hire is capable of growing and improving their sales performance.
9. My Managers Don’t Need to Be a Part of Training
One of the primary reasons sales organizations don’t capture the value of training is that they don’t also train their managers and leaders. Because their managers and leaders are not trained to reinforce what their sales force is taught, the sales force doesn’t execute what they’ve learned, and when they do, there is no one to give them feedback.
10. It Won’t Work in My Industry
Any reasonable modern sales training is going to be based on a certain set of principles that are applicable to selling generally. A good and effective training program will offer you resources to help you covert the principles to your business and your industry. There are no industries that are not subject to the principles of good selling, and the difficulties and challenges are rarely unique enough not to have good answers and approaches available.
The belief that you are spending money on training is false. You are investing in making money and buying an insurance policy that protects the already massive investment you are making in your sales force.
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