This article lists sales training poisons SBI has seen – and their respective antidotes. To assist you further, download the Top Training Techniques Tool – a list of bad sales training methods and their cures.
1. Executive Fly-By
Getting your sales force together for a training event can be expensive. Having company executives speak at these events is a must-do. It is part of managing culture change. However, many executive(s) fly in for a 1 hour keynote and then split. This runs the risk of demoralizing the team or setting a bad precedent.
The emerging practice cure: Have execs stay for part or all of the training. Have them participate as learners or as guest instructors. Put them on a Q&A panel. Ensure they have some unstructured timeframes (dinners, fun events, happy hours). They’ll be able to hear perspective not always heard in the halls of the C-suite.
Recommendation: for 4 days of training, the executive(s) should plan on 1 day minimum. This can be a half-day afternoon, overnight, and the half-day morning.
2. Off-the-Shelf Courseware
This option is actually OK – if all you want is generic sales concepts for your sales force. What’s missing from the generic concepts is the real world context. The concepts totally grasped. Why? They aren’t wrapped in company-specific context. Sure, instructors can ask for company stories/scenarios to share. But, this level of story does not become ingrained in the content.
The best practice cure: Customization coupled with real-world pilot testing. The concepts are much more easily grasped when context is built in. Internal processes, titles, product/offering names, even names of personnel are in the customization. All of this makes it more familiar and friendly to the audience.
Recommendation: Customize not only content, but the choice of modules to instruct. Use the “off menu” approach with your sales training provider. Ensure they have multiple components of training materials. Then pick the ones that your sales force needs most and have them customized.
3. “Foreign” Instructors
If you get your content customized with your context, don’t then make this mistake. Instructors that are not from your company will also lack needed context. The instructor has not dealt with your sales force. So, he/she lacks the logistical and emotional context that your sales force knows. We even go so far as to say company instructors not from sales are ‘foreigners’.
The emerging practice cure: Use your sales force as instructors. Leverage Sales Managers and Sales Reps to do the teaching. They will have the context and real-life stories. This makes the content come alive. Hopefully, you’ve had these instructors piloting the materials before training day – a part of this emerging practice.
Recommendation: Choose a team of Reps + Sales Managers, maybe even some sales directors/VPs. They should be assessed for training and storytelling capabilities. They don’t have to be perfect trainers. But, they’ll need to be able to hold an audience’s attention. Train the concepts to them in a train-the-trainer manner. After this, set them off on a pilot to use the concepts.
Top Training Techniques Tool
The above described only 3 of the many ineffective sales training methods. Download a copy of SBI’s Top Training Techniques Tool. It includes more detail on these 3. It also has 4 more bad methods – along with the way to correct them.
Other Sales Training Gaffes
Here’s a list of some other ways to kill sales training:
- Virtual-only training
- One-and-done training event
- Lecture-heavy content
- Ignoring the CRM component
The cures for these are available in the Top Training Techniques Tool. My colleague, John Kearney, wrote on some other emerging sales training practices.
Don’t let out-of-date sales training methods waste money and sales force’ time. Learn and apply these emerging practices.
1. Get the Top Training Techniques Tool to assess your current sales training.
2. Use the tips in the tool to apply emerging practices for upcoming training events.
3. Don’t just wait for the next big sales training. Many ‘cures’ can be applied even without a big training event scheduled.
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