There has been a plethora of blog posts and articles recently – including mine – regarding sales training, so I thought I would add a further “two penneth” (Quaint British expression, meaning small contribution)
In many companies, very little systematic thought is given to the design of a sales training program. Very often one of the following fallacious schools of thought is encountered.
“Salespeople Are Born Not Made”- therefore the selection process is the only step to getting the right man.
Having been chosen, the new recruit is then either successful or not, without any help from the company. Research does not bear out this theory.
“Must Know The Product From The Ground Up” – all training is therefore devoted to lengthy product training, working on the shop floor, progressing paperwork, etc. Whilst product knowledge is very necessary, it is questionable whether this is the right way to learn it or whether this is sufficient on its own.
“Watch Me Son” – the new Salesperson is sent out with an old hand to watch (and thus learn) the experienced person’s techniques. Thus the new salesperson may not only pick up bad habits from the experienced person (who usually is not as trained as a trainer), but also mere observation will not teach.
If a successful training program is to be developed, it must be planned with careful thought given to the following questions:
• What should be taught?
• Where should it be taught?
• By whom?
And most critical –
For Example: Objectives of A Training Program
• Increased sales
• Reduced individual selling costs
• Increased individual earnings
• Reduced personnel turnover
• Reduced need for supervision
• Improved employee morale
• Better customer relationships
Therefore, the objectives have to be formulated in these terms, i.e. turning the company’s investment in personnel into an asset producing an increased return on that investment.
Training, particularly sales training is a lengthy and complex process if true learning is to take place (i.e. if behaviour is to be modified) Too often, insufficient thought is given to what is to be achieved, by whom and how. The whole situation firstly needs careful analysis with regard paid to the limitations of training, as well as to its value. Then the program can be formulated and, very important, evaluated against specific objectives. Only in this way can we be sure that the training is in fact achieving positive results.
Training is an essential part of the profession of selling, as it is in any other profession.
Finally, formal training can also have a huge influence on skills development, especially if it is implemented with two additional ingredients:
The training must be based on what the salespeople need and should be tailored to address diagnosed performance gaps. Using a diagnostic approach – a formal sales team skills audit, saves an organization money and time because there is nothing to be gained from teaching people something that they are already doing well or, conversely, that they don’t need to do in the first place. A well-targeted program is far more likely to engage participants’ full interest because they’ll see its immediate relevance to their daily results.