Virtually every business day I receive at least one, and often as many as four, unsolicited requests to post blog articles on my blog from sales trainers I do not know and most often have never heard of before receiving their email. What I have learned from these requests is both disappointing and disturbing.
It is more than reasonable to assume that sales trainers not only know how to generate sales but that they also practice what they preach.
Based on the requests I receive to help sales trainers expand their reach and influence more people by posting their articles on my blog the concept of practicing what one preaches is foreign to a good segment of the sales training community.
One of the fundamentals of sales is to concentrate on your prospect rather than on yourself. As sellers we have to have a message that appeals to our prospect, that is, it meets a need the prospect has or it fulfills a desire or want. At the least we need to put our offer in a format that answers the most basic prospect question of “what’s in it for me?”
It would be absurd to approach a prospect with a proposal that totally focused on our needs and totally ignores the prospect.
But that is exactly how sales trainers who should know better approach requesting help from someone they do not know and who does not know them.
Why is this issue one that should concern you?
I think it is a reflection of the state of the sales training industry. Let me point out a few of the more glaring issues with sales trainers—and very possibly the training they provide—the above reveals:
- They don’t recognize a sales situation when they are in one. How a trainer approaches me tells me a great deal about them. I don’t need nor do I expect a trainer to do anything for me in order for me to post their article—if it is good I’ll post it. But the trainer who is requesting my help can’t make that assumption. When they approach me or anyone else to solicit our help they must recognize that they are in a selling situation and therefore must act accordingly.
- They don’t practice the fundamentals of selling. As noted above, one of the fundamentals of selling is to focus on the prospect, not on oneself. But in most cases the solicitation email I receive is totally focused on what I can do for them without so much as a thank you for your time.
- They can’t effectively teach what they don’t practice. In many respects selling is similar to sports—consistent, effective practice is the foundation for success. Although we might be able to mouth the right words, if we aren’t actively practicing what we preach we really can’t be effective teachers. Like sellers, sales trainers need to be immersed in sales and that means actively practicing selling. Sales training is more than simply saying the right things, it is demonstrating through practice what works; it is turning words into actions. If one cannot turn words into actions in their own life how can they expect to effectively help others do what they can’t?
I attach a great deal of importance to how a sales trainer solicits me to post an article they’ve written as I believe it tells me a great deal about them as a seller and thus as a sales trainer. If they aren’t demonstrating the fundamentals of selling I ignore their request. The fact that so many fail that simple test isn’t surprising but it is very disappointing and disconcerting.
Whether you’re a seller seeking a sales training coach or a sales leader looking to hire someone to do training for your team, find out how they sell, it will tell you a great deal about what to expect from them—and don’t be surprised if their real message is “do as I say, not as I do.”