How Do I Train My Sales Force?

I was oehinking the other day how little time I spend in my posts on the very thing that I have done the last 24 years – training a business-to-business sales force. This post gives you suggestions to get started, whether you hire someone from the outside (like me), or not.

The Myths of Sales Training

There are several that need to be debunked first. In no order, here they are:

1. Full Day Programs Are Useful. They are not. Wow. There, I said it. And I actually do one-day programs, mainly to launch a more comprehensive program. But I find that sitting in a room for 8 hours consuming a trainers content is not how adults learn.

2. Training is an Expense. It might be – but it shouldn’t be. Training your sales force should be a profit center. Period. But not the way most go about it. Every dollar you spend training  your sales team should return 10X to you. Yes, 10X. If that isn’t the mindset going in, save your money.

3. Seasoned Pros Don’t Need Training. Huh? Tell Tiger Woods that. Or, Peyton Manning. or, Tom Brady. Or, Beyonce. They are high income pros, but they train every day. They practice. They study. They work on their craft.  If you hear from one of your vets that they want to be excluded from training, that’s not a good sign.

4. All They Need is a Shot in the Arm. No, sales people do not need that. They need very specific instruction on how to handle the many circumstances that they run into.

5. It’s All About Technique. Enough with the technique. It is of no value until you “get their minds right” on achievement.  That includes goal setting, mental strength, emotional power, human nature, delivery of the message etc., Mind first. Mechanics later. Teach an “achievement system” rather than just a ‘how to sell more’ system. They are quite different.The Achievement System

How To Craft A Killer Sales Training Program

Here are some suggestions that are part of a book I’m working on right now on this very topic. I’ll give you five suggestions, then you’ll have to buy the book for the rest.

1. List the Circumstances. Make an exhaustive list of all the scenarios that cause your people fits. Could be process issues, or customer resistance issues, or lousy messaging. There could be 15-20 scenarios that fit on this list. Make sure that list gets back out to the participants.

2. Get User Input. Tell your people and your leaders that you are assembling a high-impact sales development program. I wouldn’t even use sales training – too many bad vibes from prior experience. Circulate a list to your team and the leaders…and even others inside the company who interact with sales people. If anyone fails to respond, have a personal conversation with them about why.

3. Schedule Follow Up. Even before you plan the launch, plan what’s next. Tell your team that this is a ONE YEAR endeavor with the intent to raise the level of competency. Plan small group meetings, or phone calls, or web calls, or podcasts or videos. You can’t expect change from a one day event (above). Get serious about it. If you are, they will be.

4. Use Technology. Its Your Friend. In the following point, I talk about one way to use tech. But you should have ‘technology’ as a key part of this. This could include pre-work videos. Or, post-work podcasts.

5. Document Everything. Yes, this is tough. But you should send out notes after each training about what was covered and any highlights that came from it. In my training, I will always, send out an MP3 after a training so people can recall what was covered. OR, you may not have gotten to an important issue, reference that on the MP3. Remember, get serious.

This should get you started.  I want to hear how you do with this so leave comments here. It is inconceivable to me as to how little of these ideas are implemented in business today. Everyone says they want to grow their business – so begin with growing your people. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcomes.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “How Do I Train My Sales Force?

  1. The importance of having leadership on board, and holding front line managers accountable for coaching, is really critical for long-term success…

  2. This is no way meant to suggest to you how to suck eggs Mr Caskey. Your expertise is indisputable. I just thought I might add one component to your content, most likely it would fit within your new program under #1. List The Circumstances. I would suggest the possibility of ‘sandwiching’ “the scenarios that cause your people fits” with a quick review and reinforcement of what your reps are already doing that they are doing great and which need little or no improvement on. I could detail my professional and experiential reasons for doing this but this would be my suggestion. For what it’s worth.

    Wishing you and your students even greater success!

    Mark T. Moore

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