“We don’t spend money on outside sales training because it never seems to do much good. In the past we’ve had training companies come in and work with our team but as soon as they leave it seems like our people are just back to doing what they were doing before. Training is just a waste of our time and money.”
Many company leaders have the above attitude because their experience has been that the training they paid good money for didn’t change their sales team’s behavior—at least not for long.
After having that experience a couple of times it would seem rational to eliminate the outside training expense because obviously training companies can’t make the fundamental changes to people that they claim they can.
The company leader assumes that the root of the issue lies with the training company and its inability to have a long term impact on the sales force.
But is that really the problem?
Certainly the issue could in fact lie with the company that provided the training. But are a number of possible reasons apart from the company hired to perform the training for sales training failure–from treating sales training as an event instead of an ongoing behavior change process, to salespeople who view attending sales training sessions as torture, to the company’s failure to provide follow-up coaching for the sales team. All of these are real issues that can negate any potential success you might experience from your investment in sales training.
There is another factor that is often the real cause for the failure of the training—intentional or unintentional sabotage by the sales team management.
Are your sales managers trying to take the edge off their charges having to go to training by reassuring them, “yes, you have to go to the training, but don’t worry; just go and when you get back, sell the way you’ve always sold?”
Maybe they don’t believe in the training and are intentionally training their team members in different processes and tactics?
Possibly some sales managers don’t want to invest the time and energy in learning new strategies and tactics themselves and consequently don’t care whether their folks adopt the training.
If you fail to get full buy-in from your sales management team to the specific training you are presenting, you will not have comprehensive and universal implementation of the training.
Your frontline sales managers who work with their team members have more influence on how your salespeople sell than anyone else—more than senior executives, more than middle sales management, more than the training department, more than HR, more than the expensive sales trainers you hire.
If they don’t believe, the salespeople won’t believe.
If they don’t reinforce the messages, the strategies, and the tactics, those occasional training sessions will be nothing more than expensive exercises in futility.
How do you get all of your sales managers on the same page?
Before you ever put a salesperson in a training workshop or seminar, each and every manager must have gone through the management version of the training. Each manager must understand what the company’s comprehensive, unified sales process is and how the particular training that is scheduled fits in the big picture; what short and long-term results are to be expected; what their job is in reinforcing and coaching the training; and what criteria will be used to determine the success or failure of the training.
Most of all, each manager must believe in the process and strategy. .
Whether the training is presented by an in-house trainer or by a professional trainer brought in from outside, each segment of training should consist of a management segment designed to gain manager buy-in and to give them the tools and knowledge they will need to coach sellers once they are back at the office and a segment for salespeople that is attended by their managers.
And although the initial cost of training in terms of both time and money will increase, the long-term result will be reduced waste of training dollars and increased sales. That wished for unified sales process will begin to become a reality because the biggest determent to success has been turned into the biggest promoter of success.