What is Good Sales Training? (and why does it matter?)

Selling is so vital to our businesses and economy, yet why is basic education in this skill so lacking? How many salespeople when to college to study selling? Which colleges offer salesmanship as a degree? The answer I have found so far is more none than slim. This skill set drives everything. Absolutely everything. This does not only mean our revenue, but also how we influence one another. Most positions in a company require some form of salesmanship as you must vie for scarce resources. It could be something as simple as garnering a raise, requesting time off, or even getting the job in the first place. Selling, in its primal form, is persuading others to agree with your wants, needs, and ideas and deliver to you a favorable outcome.  It is nothing new to say that every person sells in some form or another, but training in this critical life and business skill is lacking. Even in the context of poor results we resist making any investment in sales training; especially our time. There are several books that you won’t read. There are plenty of online videos that, if they are longer than five minutes, well, no thank you. Why? Sometimes we don’t like to try new things. We don’t recognize that there is a problem or, if there is, the problem is certainly not you. Many people are too ashamed to even call themselves a salesperson and avoid anything that might associate them with those pariahs. We accept achieving less than we desire or are capable of for any of the reasons you can think of right now to avoid in investing in sales training.  Sales, speaking purely academically, is not that complicated to learn or to teach. It’s like basic math. The concepts do not change over time. No matter how a teacher tries to repackage the basics to ‘debunk old methods’, 1 +1 will always = 2 just as closing the deal will always be closing the deal.  My ten year old son shares his math work with me frequently so I can see how it is being taught today. What a mess! How did addition become so complicated so suddenly? The same can be said about new methods of sales training. If CRMs are supposed to make things easier, why do I seem to be doing extra work now and my results haven’t changed? Disclaimer: CRMs are not inherently bad but they are misused.  What is good sales training? Good sales training should always be simple. The notion of cold calling is daunting enough to drive people away from sales. Why make it worse by making it even more complicated? Good sales training is the same as teaching basic math. You need someone who is an effective instructor who is teaching solid and digestible concepts and gives you the proper exercises so that you learn, retain, and effectively use the skill. All sales training should have homework and quizzes; not just certificates and acronyms. You need a sales trainer who covers the sales process in its entirety: from prospecting and presenting all the way through closing the sale. Add, subtract, multiply and divide. When those skills are learned satisfactorily then we begin to build on it. Handling objections, farming, and getting new leads are algebra, geometry, trigonometry of sales. You get the picture. Good sales training involves drills and homework; just like math. When the sales fundamentals are learned, we need to put them to practice before we go out into the field. Rehearsing presentations, role-playing a sales dialogue, and practice with handling objections are all necessary to gain sales proficiency. This rehearsal is ongoing. It is not something that is completed in a week. Once you are in the field, putting the training into practice, role-playing may not be needed as frequently, but it is still good to role-play occasionally. I call it a Sales Pop Quiz.  Sales without a doubt is the most crucial component to any business. That statement will not make headline news, but it is frightening to see how under-invested companies are in their sales training. And it shows.  How much cost in value do you put into your sales training? What return do you get on that investment? Or, have you been leaving it mostly to chance all along?

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