This is the 3rd and final episode in the series in which I have shared my thoughts and ideas regarding some of the critical roles in the sales effectiveness world… all roles that I have had the distinct pleasure to play. We have addressed those who sell sales effectiveness solutions and sales training, as well as those who buy these solutions. In this final segment, I would like to talk specifically to my current peers – my sales training and coaching colleagues.
- We all know that sales people are a difficult bunch to train. We have short attention spans and are very discerning with our time. Sales professionals are admittedly quicker to trust sales trainers who have carried a bag, and this has caused many a sales trainer to embellish their resume with experience that does not exist. But this is not a requirement to be an effective sales trainer, so I encourage you to resist the urge to try to be something you’re not. They can read your LinkedIn profile and smell a fraud like a skunk under their porch. Build your credibility by sharing your relevant experiences in the field working with customers. Talk about the successes you have had working with other sales people and then prove to them that you understand their world as a sales professional, and you will have that credibility you so crave.
- While facilitating learning is a form of presenting, there is a BIG difference between a sales presentation and training. So please, even if you have 35 years of executive leadership and a ton of really interesting war stories in your quiver, learn the craft. Learn how to create a learning environment, how to ask the right questions, how to provide clear instructions for an exercise, how to make decisions in a classroom to change course when necessary. There are Train-the-Trainer programs, books, and discussion groups that can help you. Just because you have charisma and experience oozing from your pores doesn’t mean you know how to train! There are a ton of examples of great players who were terrible coaches, because they did not know how to coach – don’t fall into the same trap.
- Even if your training abilities are excellent, your participants will never “always win.” I have yet to see someone “quadruple his or her sales” in one year because of some “transformational” training alone. I am glad you believe yours is the “best tool ever created” and that you could have “tripled your income” if you had just been fortunate to have learned this “secret to success.” But please, take it easy on the hyperbole. Most of your sales professionals are just that, professionals! They are good at what they do, or they would not be professionals. Most of them are looking for 2-3 new ideas to help them move the needle 5, 10, or 15%. And almost every methodology, sales process, and tool I have seen are similar to others on the market. It is all about the implementation of that tool, or the organizational alignment around that process, the change management practices from leadership that will make the biggest difference.
- The best gift we can get as sales trainers is a thoughtfully written evaluation, or assessment, of our performance in the classroom. I take the time to read every single one of them, and I strongly consider the feedback I am given. I am a much better trainer today because of feedback I have received from participants. So, if you are asking them to take the time to fill out an assessment, take the time to read them and make adjustments based on that feedback.
- Lastly, you will never be an expert on your participant’s products or solutions unless you’ve sold the same products and solutions. You will never be an expert on your participant’s organization unless you’ve worked for it. And in most cases, I don’t think it is necessary. However, with that said, it is critical that you take the time to understand as best you can what is going on in their world. Try to never be surprised to learn in the classroom that the company is a take-over target, had recent layoffs, or had a bad earnings report. I set up a Google alert a few weeks before I deliver training to a new client so I can learn what is going on in their world and make as many connections as I can.
These best practices alone will not guarantee you are a rock star sales trainer. There is a lot of skill, knowledge, and practice that goes in to it, but these will go a long way to ensuring you are successful in the training room.
I look forward to hearing from all of you. Please reach out and connect to me via LinkedIn or Twitter, and let’s work together to make ourselves the best we can be.