Sales training is necessary, I provide it. But as a sales rep I learned a great deal of training out there isn’t needed. In fact it can be counterproductive.
For example, the more prescriptive the sales training, the more anxious and worried I felt at doing things I could already do. It was as if experts were telling me I was doing it all wrong if I wasn’t doing it their way.
I don’t know how controversial this may be but if you are a human being, and I hope most of you are, you’ll already know how to:
- Make friends
- Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know
- Start a conversation
- Make a phone call
- Use voicemail
- Send an email
- …and other things you already know how to do…
So why get prescriptive about it? Why get sales training requiring 57 actions followed in exact order and using the exact words?
Because we all want an answer – and we want it simple. “Just tell me what to do so I don’t have to think. I want to use it right now!”
Unfortunately this human desire dumbs down selling and sales training into the lowest common denominator. And that’s what sales trainers use to sell their training.
But training that spells out exact steps to make a call or shake hands can make attendees doubt their own abilities. Either their natural skills or life’s lessons. This is especially true for those from the operational side, or are in an operational position and also must sell.
What Sales Training Should Do
Sales situations are infinitely varied and fast moving. Instead of providing scripts for what to say, do, or write, sales training is more successful when it provides:
Sales training should provide a new way of seeing the world for the way it really is. This is the “aha” moment where what was once invisible is now seen. It’s eye opening in so far as the new view was there all along. It only took the training to make it clear.
As importantly as seeing reality more clearly is seeing one’s place in that reality. Where we fit, and what we’re really about is part of the power behind clarity.
Personalization in Use
Sales training should enable individuals to speak in their own words, personality and style. There is no “sales-right-way” of doing things. If individuals feel or believe they can only sell by doing it a specific way, they’re going to feel awkward to the point of not doing anything.
Power in Action
This is more than motivation alone (see fire walking below). It’s having the confidence to stretch outside one’s comfort zone, knowing how the world works, and then taking action. There’s power behind how you go about sales activities when you know buyers need what you provide and are actively seeking your solutions, experience and intelligence.
Sales training should provide the above three conditions. It should provide an inevitability to your daily activities that produce sales because you are helping buyers make better buys – because buyers value what you have to offer and say.
This is equally true for the extroverted, born salesperson as well as the operational hybrid rep who’s more at home solving service challenges.
2 Styles of Sales Training Than Don’t Work Anymore
Sales training usually falls into two styles: fire walking or prescriptive persecution. The choice of styles used to be a key factor when deciding which training to buy. Now, if you get the sense that a sales training is mostly one of these styles or the other avoid it…(mine too if you feel it falls into one of these).
Sales training in the fire walking style is about getting pumped up emotionally to literally walk barefoot over red hot coals. The belief is that anything is possible if you only want it bad enough. Although I’ve never put my pink puppies through a fire walk, I have emotionally wanted to sell business. I needed to sell because I needed the commission. I have emotionally qualified to the fire walk level but that didn’t regularly produce sales.
So now I’m extremely skeptical when a sales training talks about “training you to work harder than anyone else”, or “learn to want it more than the next person”.
Prescriptive persecution, as mentioned above, is sales training that has 57steps that must be followed in the exact order – and documented online within 30 seconds of their completion. In this style of sales training you generally get a very complex process map with swim lanes that requires a licensed project manager to explain.
Engineers love this kind of sales training as it makes perfect design sense – if you were a machine – and you were allowed the time to work through the minutiae – and the world worked exactly as planned.
Enough Said: What’s the Takeaway?
Sales, and sales training, are not dumbed down processes. Seek sales training that empowers you to act with confidence and intelligence in the real world. It should provide you the guidance and direction to improvise and create what needs to get done – and it must work within the constraints and curve balls of real life.