Sales Training Mistakes – What Doesn’t Work: Part One Of Two

Sales Training MistakesThe concept of sales training is one that needs to be adjusted constantly, as the many changes that occur within the industry may lead to new practices and obstacles.

A sales management team has to sit down and decide whether the education is something that can be done in-house or whether they need to acquire outside help in order to minimize sales training mistakes.

According to Heather Kivett, president of Resolution Systems, Inc., a sales training and consulting firm, there are several mistakes that can be made when a management team tries to implement a new system.

One of the first mistakes that is made is when a team of executives decides to use homegrown sales training instead of hiring a professional firm. While some companies are able to do this because of experience with the process, many times individuals overestimate their ability to teach.

“Although it can work, it typically does not have a curriculum or designer that understands adult learning theory and the associated models,” said the executive. “These are very important to have with your construct.”

These companies often do their sales training based on the specific product or service that they are selling. Therefore, they assume that product knowledge training is an all-encompassing thing that will put their representatives in a position to make the sale, according to Kivett.

The idea that if you understand the inner workings of a product then you will be able to sell it is one that does not represent a realistic view of sales. This is why we don’t see a mechanic at a car dealership, there is a gap between the two sectors.

“This type of thinking is not true,” said Kivett. “They are completely different things, you can co-mingle them, if done appropriately, but they are distinctly different.”

These companies will make sales training mistakes by teaching their representatives sellingpoints only on the specific products and then assuming that this type of learning is all-encompassing.

Another common mistake that is made by companies that are trying to train new representatives is that they will try and fit everything into a short period of time. These businesses will lump several weeks of training into an all-day event and assume that their work is done, according to the executive.

While the representatives will be able to write down and learn a variety of techniques and methods to lock down clients and entice potential buyers, short-term learning won’t lead to a dramatic change in results.

Reinforcement is the key to any type of training, not just for salespeople, and a lack of this practice will remove any long-term impact for the education of representatives.

Kivett noted that a number of times she has heard executives tell their employees, “We did training a year ago, why aren’t you guys selling.” You don’t learn to drive a car by making a long drive initially, as an individual will retain more and apply new techniques if the process is elongated and reinforced.

These companies also fail to realize that a pre-assessment of representatives can save time and resources during training. Managers need to find out the issues with each salesperson beforehand, in order to provide a more directed approach.

“Joe may be struggling with prospecting, while Janet struggles to ask questions,” said Kivett. “If you assume that it’s going to be absorbed by an overall training process and dont pay attention to their individual needs, then you are probably going to get a bad return on your investment.”