I’ve said before that sales training doesn’t work and, despite it being one of our core services, I stand by this statement. Sales training, that is, in the traditional sense.
We’ve all been there: you sign up for a training course and if you’re lucky and motivated enough to not get distracted and start day-dreaming, you’ll leave feeling really enthusiastic about all the new knowledge you have on how to be great at sales. Then you drive back to the office and its business as usual and somehow all the new skills never get used. This sadly is a part of the human condition. There is a vast difference between knowing something and making that thing a new habit or behaviour and therefore much great teaching simply doesn’t make it out of the training room.
Why doesn’t normal sales training work?
Let’s say you listened to the chart countdown at the weekend. You’re given the information on what the top 10 singles are and for a short time you’ll probably remember that. But by Wednesday it’s unlikely you’ll be able to list the top 10 from memory. That’s because you haven’t used that information and embedded it into your brain – you haven’t lived it. The exact same thing happens following training if you don’t experience the content in ‘real life’.
Sales people are experiential people – they learn by doing. The need interaction and engagement to really get the best out of their knowledge and this is very hard to learn in the class room.
So what’s the solution and how can you, or your team, get better at selling?
Sales is a skill, and like any skill the only way to get great is to practice. Just like learning to drive, you can be told how to do it but without practicing you will never really know how to drive.
Over the years Elation have created and delivered sales workshops for hundreds of businesses and helped their sales teams become more effective at selling. This experience has helped us develop a 4 step training process which embeds sales skills to make them a fundamental part of the person, something they practice regularly and experience on a daily basis:
PREPARE Observe & Assess: Understand the skills required and assess the strengths & weaknesses of the team against it by observing them in action. What are they doing well already and where do they need to develop? What are the individual barriers to success and what learning styles do each of your team have? This allows training that is bespoke and relevant to be crafted.
TEACH. Provide content: Create powerful content based on individual needs.
When delivering the training make sure to explain what the purpose is by talking through What (what do you want them to do?) When (what are the time frames, when do you want to see results?) Why (what’s the overall goal, why are you training them at all?) How (how can they deliver what you want?). Understanding the goal before the method helps to clarify what’s required and will make it easier to get the team’s engagement and therefore increase the success of the training.
Experience. Try it out. Use role-play and group work so everyone can experience what’s being taught. Encourage the team review each other and feedback on what they’re doing well and what they need to work on. Running a workshop that’s as interactive as possible will give them the opportunity to practice what you’re teaching, and just like learning to drive will help them know how to sell rather than just understand a theory.
Review & Assess. Put tracking systems in place to see how the team are getting on. Review with them – what are they doing well, what are they struggling with? What challenges have they faced and how could they have overcome them using the techniques from the session?
That’s all well and good, but what results will you see from this that you wouldn’t from traditional training?
Motivated team. The really unique benefit of this training style is the engagement from the team. As the training is interactive and the team are involved in their own development the engagement is higher, they feel more valued than just being told how to do better. As a result the team are more motivated and therefore more effective.
Taking ownership of results. The engagement and understanding of the bigger picture requirements of the training means the team can take ownership of the results and therefore are more motivated to achieve.
More successful. Remember the reason you thought about training in the first place. You want to see more effective selling, and that’s exactly what you get.
By Robin Mason, Co-Creator of Elation Sales, bespoke sales team training, sales process & planning and outsourced sales campaigns.