The Sales Training Imperative

Posted: October 1, 2018

A call for dedicated sales training.

In one of my recent posts, I shared the various types of sales coaching that must occur within your sales organization.

This article is a necessary counterpart - it shows just how essential sales training is to a sales team’s success.

The Truth About Sales Training

If sales training was quick and painless, everyone would do it. If it was easy to perform effective sales training, the state of the sales profession would be a lot better.

The truth is - quality sales training takes time, dedication and persistence. It never stops. But as SalesStar CEO Paul O’Donohue points out, most sales organizations dramatically underinvest in sales training:

“‘A majority of sales teams lack consistent skill-based training. They just wing it,” says Paul. “Often we hear "John Smith was trained 10 years ago, so he’s good to go. High-performance athletes must continually train to stay competitive and at the top of their sport. It’s the same for sales.’ This is where coaching from sales managers is vital. With consistent, ongoing coaching, they can help turn learnings into everyday skills that their teams can call upon.”

Another problem with sales training is that it can focus on the wrong things. According to O’Donohue, ‘skills training that isn't related to a salesperson's industry or role won't sink in [...] they need to be the right skills for the right job and the right process.’”

The Solutions to Sales Training

The indomitable Dave Kurlan offers a great template for crafting your sales training regimen. Per Kurlan, the following are 7 core components of sales training:

  • Repetition - as with exercising
  • Let Go - as with a massage
  • Reinforcement - as with variations of the same messages
  • Role Playing - as in practice
  • Mistakes - as in golf or tennis
  • Coaching - as in private golf or tennis lessons
  • Commitment and Discipline

Kurlan advises practicing the strategies and tactics that work consistently, then focusing time and effort on the difficult aspects of selling, such as:

  • Resistance
  • Push-back
  • Ambivalence
  • Pricing
  • Competition
  • Incumbents
  • Relationships
  • Renewals
  • Delays
  • Complaints

Human beings learn through experience and reward - and sales training is no different.

Where Effective Sales Training Starts

Kurlan offers a great, pointed rant about the overly dismissive attitudes sales organizations have towards training.

“Most salespeople never practice - ever!  Let's take a look at some of the top professional athletes in the world.  Not only do they all have coaches, but their practice schedules and disciplines should embarrass you.”

When you look at what it takes to build a high-performing sales culture, it’s the same as building a world-class NFL or NBA team. You need systems, coaches, talent, goals, and strategies of the highest-caliber.

Consistent practice and training is how you keep reps accountable, keep everyone on the same page, and keep your organization performing to its maximum potential.

CREATING AN EFFECTIVE SALES PLAN IS JUST ONE STEP TO BUILDING A HIGH-PERFORMING SALES TEAM. LEAN THE OTHERS IN OUR FREE GUIDE: THE 9-STEP PATHWAY TO TRANSFORMATIONAL SALES RESULTS.

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