4 Tips how to Select Great Sales Training

My first real job was as a salesman, as a pharmaceutical rep., and the training I received from Glaxo has set me on my way to a solid career.

The training was focused, tailored, and enabled us to understand why we needed to do job as a Sales Specialist in certain ways. It provided me with a simple structure for my sales calls as well as provide some default language when i was stuck.  The training gave me a solid basis to complete my work and a ready escape route when i was in trouble with customers.  I use it today.

Interestingly, the training was selected by our sales managers and conducted by them, enabling them to share their experience with the younger team members. It also showed their personal commitment to the training and also their interest in our using these methods. When I was infield we would have many discussion on how to use the training better and how to share examples of our successes and failures with others. The training transformed magically into learning for me.

On reflection, I think I was lucky to have received simple powerful training early.

So how’s your sales training- or other training? Can you say similar things? I certainly can’t of the subsequent training i had.

I’m certain, in your company, every year, Sales Reps (and others) are forced into mandatory training. Your motives are good;  your company wishes them to learn a new process or skill. Often this desire comes from HR who have found a great new supplier, or marketing who want to try a new way of selling, or maybe a new Sales Director who wants to use what he used before.  As expected, the Sales Reps and often Sales Managers complain and resist as someone disturbs their tried and (maybe) successful methods.

My advice to Sales Reps and the Sales Managers: stop complaining and do something about it. Assess the value of your training and do one of these three things:

Take the time to objectively assess the current and proposed training

– If the new training is bad, then tell whom ever is promoting the system exactly why its bad and suggest a better alternative worth your time and effort.
– If you’ve determined the new training is good, then embrace it, as what’s on offer is better than what you have, so you’ll improve and exceed your goals.

There are some cogent reasons that all sales team members should take time to assess and enhance their skill sets regularly. And here’s a guide to enable you to select the best training for you.

4 Attributes of a Quality Training Program

You need to identify the quality of information to be learned. Talk to your sales development and training group and ask for a program outline. Then make sure the training program is centered on these four attributes.

1. Customer-Centred
– Outward-in focused. If a new sales process is introduced, it should have been influenced by your Customers. Whatever the topic, ask for the customer research that supports the change.

– Customer Persona driven. Customer Personas are documented descriptions of the Buyers of your product. They are profiles of the influencers and decision makers needed to close the sale by your team. Personas outline the ends/desires,  objectives, obstacles, and success measures of your target market. To serve the needs of your customers, your training should be influenced by Personas. I’ll be discussing this later in a new post.

2. Personal Brand Building
– Makes you more effective as a sales person. Often, new ways of doing things are uncomfortable. They should disrupt our routine with something better. But if the promised outcome is greater effectiveness, then it is worth your time.

– Teaches or reinforces a new skill. Good things take time. Most changes do not happen overnight. It can take months to adopt innovation. Training should reinforce better habits and ways of doing business.

3. Integrated
– Takes into account new theories and how they are more effective. Sales experts are constantly publishing new theories. It is critical that these theories can be translated into results. You need to make your budget this year. Ask your training team how they plan to convert a presentation into real value.

– You don’t have time for additional paperwork. Training needs to integrate any new skills into your current daily routine. Integrated computer based systems are available to support this. As long as the system is tried and tested and easy to implement. I have seen too many examples of hand-crafted systems that completely failed- over budget in cost and time, not supported internally or externally. Great ideas badly implemented. Buy something simple off the shelf and seek to upgrade. Try not to have your computer system do everything.

– Implemented in-house. Ensure you don’t need t bring external providers in to manage training. This should be done in house using subject matter experts. Be supported 100% by your sales team management and be thoroughly integrated into daily life.

4. Agile
– Innovation is the “introduction of new things or methods.” This implies that what you have learned today will one day be old. Your training organization should share their understanding of the natural lifecycle of innovate thought. The Xerox strategic sales techniques I used in 1986, for instance, are no longer cutting edge. The customer has completely changed since it was introduced in the eighties. If your training team is stuck on old methods, you are wasting your time.  Make sure they systems you have if computer based are similarly agile and up-gradable.

Have you had any roaring successes or disaster in training you can share? Please add to our comment.