Improving sales performance is often thought of as a pushbutton solution by sales training clients. We'll just buy the training, the clients believe, and everything will turn out great.
The cautionary truth is the results are often lackluster. And there's a key reason why.
So is sales training a waste of money? Is it never going to have an impact on improving sales performance?
Whenever you hear an absolute like that ("always"..."never"), trainer Jason Forrest says it's time to start digging. Are absolutes ever always true in the real world? You mean to say every single one of the prospects you spoke with came back with that same response?!
Failure In Improving Sales Performance
In his experience with sales training failures, UK trainer Jonathan Farrington notes "the habit of many individuals to treat training as a CV builder, absorbing little but the most basic understanding of what was being taught and [how] a recipe for systemic low productivity is created". This is an amazing and disturbing statement, and I want you to read it again. "A recipe for systemic low productivity". Is that what you want in your organization? Do you feel the pit of doom opening in your gut?
All the trainers I have found commenting on this critical issue agree knowledge transfer is not enough to induce behavioral change. (Your 'Forrest Alarm' should be ringing, however!) Merely stating the skills in a lecture to the sales team will not result in better sales performance. The individual salesperson must adjust their behavior. Farrington's article on The Key to Why Sales Training Fails is good, but it misses the key idea that is the major stumbling block of most sales training implementations. We'll look at this idea in a moment.
Behavioral Changes Aren't Enough for Improving Sales Performance
Marketing and sales consultant John Graham gives a list of seven such behavioral changes. But here's the problem: without a change in BELIEFS, the salesperson is unlikely to alter their behavior.
I'm talking BASIC beliefs. All the way down to "Why am I selling this widget?" and "What does money mean to me?" "What does the prospect represent to me: a foe to be overcome, or a partner to be collaborated with?" "How much cash is 'a lot of money' to me?" These beliefs and others must be brought out into the light of conscious thought and understood for each member of your sales team--and if you're the company president, you too; selling is your job and you'd better start believing it.
The Secret to Improving Sales Performance
Sales training sticks--and sales transformation happens--when the sales team changes their belief about why they are selling. It's dead easy to change your behavior when you change your beliefs. Look at dieting. I'll bet you know someone who skinnied down successfully. And I'll also bet you know someone who tried dieting, but stayed at XXXL. Why was one individual capable of losing weight while the other was not? Changes in beliefs. Our now-thin friend started believing they could be thin. That too-large portions were bad for them. That more exercise was good and necessary. Our plus-sized buddy just couldn't make the jump.
Behavioral changes are obvious and straightforward to make once you have changed your beliefs. So instead of starting with behaviors in sales training, begin with looking at your beliefs. Make these match up with the results you want, and behavioral alterations will be simple...and the results will quickly follow.
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