Prior to Sales Training, Observation is Key

If you’ve ever taken a golf lesson, you know the drill. Before providing any instruction, the golf pro will always ask you to take a few practice swings first. Why? Well, it should be obvious. He/she wants to see your swing first, before deciding what is wrong, and what parts of your swing need correction.

The same principle applies with any sort of training. In order to provide the right instruction, the trainer needs to understand what the current behavior looks like. Then, they can start to formulate what the right training solution should look like.

In sales training, our aim is to do the very same thing. We want to get out in the field with your sales people and watch them on actual calls. Or sit in a cubicle and use a Y-jack to listen in on your Inside sales rep’s or customer service rep’s calls. Our consultants need to see for themselves what the nature of the problems are. It’s not enough for us to be told by management that sales are just not at the level that they need to be, for us to make a proper training recommendation. I mean, we already know that sales are not where they should be – that’s why we’re here meeting with you in the first place. That’s akin to the golf instructor providing direction after hearing you say that you keep slicing your drives into the woods.

One of the things that we often find interesting, is the reluctance of some firms to send us out on calls. Their premise is that they can just tell us what they’re sales people are doing wrong. But frequently, these same firms cannot, with clarity, tell us exactly what mistakes are going on in the sales calls. And that’s why we need to see for ourselves. Like the golf pro who needs to study your stance, your grip, the way you address the ball, your back swing, etc, we need to see all of the elements of the sales call, including things like the preparation prior to the call, the notes that your sales person has collected in advance, the time they get there, the way they dress, the way they introduce themselves, etc.

A tremendous amount can be gleaned by watching sales people attend sales calls. What we typically find is that its not an array of things going wrong, but rather, two or three fundamental flaws in the approach. This should be good news for sales managers, as correcting a couple of major items is much simpler than trying to correct lots of things. Of course, there are always reps where there is a ton of things that need to be fixed, but most training isn’t designed for this, nor should be. These people will likely not last throughout the course of the performance improvement program.

So before you engage in expensive sales training, find a firm that insists on spending time with your team…and give them every opportunity to do so.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and Salesforce.com training firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, that insists on observing your sales people before making our full recommendations for training.

Discover why traditional sales training doesn’t work.

by   Mark Christie