I had just completed a keynote presentation in Manhattan on the topics of prospecting and the art of delivering powerful presentations. Being someone who embraces learning as a lifestyle, I’m always interested in receiving feedback from my audience. And, like I typically do at the end of my seminars, I requested that each person take a moment to complete the evaluation form on the last page of the handbook I had created for them. As they were completing their evaluations, I began packing up my bag to head home. A group of people approached me after my seminar with some questions.
By the time I finished coaching them around their biggest sales challenges, the majority of the audience had made their way out of the auditorium. I began walking through the auditorium, collecting the remaining evaluation forms that people had left on their chairs. A young woman approached me and asked if I had a moment to talk. “Of course,” I responded genuinely.
Her name was Lucy. She was a recent college graduate and had just changed jobs, taking a sales position with a jewelry design company in Manhattan.
“First, I have to thank you so much for your seminar. It was absolutely fantastic and exactly what I needed to hear.”
“Well, thank you so much for your kind words, Lucy. It sounds as if we both heard what we needed to hear today,” I responded.
“No, Keith, you don’t understand,” Lucy said. “Do you want to know how I was trained in my first sales job right out of college? You wouldn’t believe it.”
Lucy continued, “It was my first job as a salesperson. I’d never sold anything before. I got a job working for a well-known and well-respected jewelry designer in California. During the interviewing process, the owner of the company told me they would provide sales training, which was something I clearly expressed that I needed.
“Well, it’s the first day on the job. As part of my training, I was scheduled to meet with my sales manager and spend the day with him. What an experience! We spent about half the day together, going from one appointment to the next. This provided me with the opportunity to learn more about the company and silently observe his style of selling to see how a sales call should be conducted.
“When we got back to the office, I thought we would take some time to review what had occurred throughout the day. You know, go over each sales call and discuss what had happened so that I could learn from them. Afterwards, I figured we would do more one to one training. Well, that wasn’t exactly what happened.
“Instead, he takes a DVD out from his desk drawer. It was the movie Glengarry Glen Ross.” (I must say, it’s a fabulous movie with an all-star cast including Alec “Second prize, steak knives!” Baldwin, Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, and Kevin Spacey.) ‘Here, take this movie. Watch and study this movie and the salespeople in it a few times when you go home tonight,’ he ordered. ‘This movie will teach you everything you will ever need to know about selling and how to sell.’” Oy.
(If you want examples of what not to do when selling and closing, there are several classic and entertaining movies that tell different stories about salespeople and their struggles to close the big deal. Aside from Glengarry Glen Ross, some other movies are Tin Men, Boiler Room, Cadillac Man, Death of a Salesman, and The Big Kahuna.)
While this sales manager’s “training program” may be more of extreme than the norm, the unfortunate truth is, the norm isn’t that far removed from how this sales manager trains his salespeople.
Here’s a very safe bet: Whether you’re a manager or a salesperson, don’t rely on the company to provide you with the tools, training, support, and coaching you need to succeed in your position and in your career. Just ask any top producer and they will tell you they did not rely solely on the annual sales conference or weekly meeting to develop the skills and strategies needed to become a sales champion.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to find the resources, guidance, and support that you need to achieve your career goals. And if you are fortunate enough to work for a company that offers some type of training, continue to challenge what you learn, as well as your own conventional wisdom and beliefs, to ensure you don’t continually learn the wrong lessons.
About Keith Rosen, MCC — The Executive Sales Coach
Keith Rosen is the executive sales coach that top corporations, executives, and sales professionals call first. As an engaging speaker, Master Coach, and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on coaching people to achieve positive change in their attitude, behavior, and results. For his work as a pioneer and leader in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country.
If you’re ready for better results quickly, contact Keith about personal or team coaching and training at 1-888-262-2450 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Keith Rosen online at Profit Builders and be sure to sign up for his free newsletter The Winners Path.