Every now and then, we get requests for an outline for a sales training manual. We usually respond in the same way:
What prompted your interest in a sales training manual?
Typically, it's because someone told someone else to come up with some sales training. If we've learned one thing after 35 years of sales training experience, it's this: There's a lot more to a successful sales training initiative than the manual. Simply building a sales training manual -- even a really good one -- won't do any good. The secret to successful sales training is in bringing it alive. Experienced sales trainers can do that. In order to be effective, sales training needs a lot more than a manual. We've delivered sales training to salespeople all over the world. So that means we've been involved with a lot of sales training programs. Here's what the successful ones have going for them:
- They're proven by real-world results. Sales training that's all "theory" just doesn't cut it. Salespeople are too cynical to be fooled by sales theory. Instead, they're looking for examples of tactics and principles that have been used in their industry, by their peers successfully.
- They're backed-up by research. Naturally, "back of the envelope" sales tactics aren't going to work anymore, either. Sales leaders expect proof of the effectiveness of training initiatives. And now, more than ever, sales skills can be tested. In fact, this is a tremendous benefit of the Sales 2.0 movement.
- They're individualized. Everyone inside a sales organizations sells in different ways. No matter how much effort is put into "competency modeling" or "benchmarking," there's a certain element of art in sales. And that means training needs to reflect the artists on your team. That takes more than a one-size-fits-all process.
- They're customized to your unique environment. Your selling environment is different than your competitors'. And the sales process they follow will probably be a bit different than theirs. Sales training can't be a one-size-fits-all solution. A truly impactful engagement needs to map to your existing best practices. Not ignore them.
- They're delivered by experienced salespeople and managers. Sales trainers can't tell salespeople what to do unless they've already done it, themselves. Salespeople are quick to pick up on the "Do as I say, not as I do" mantra.
- They're reinforced beyond the training engagement. Changes in behavior do NOT come from a 2-day event. Instead, meaningful sales behavior growth and change must come from a longer-term, reinforced engagement with follow-up coaching.