Does Sales Training Really Work?

Does sales training really workDoes sales training really work? Can you figure out an ROI on the investment? Rapid Learning Institute CEO Stephen Meyer says in Forbes you might as well have asked "to prove unicorns don't exist."

Among other credentials, I have a technical diploma in Operations Management...the discipline that trains you on how to develop Key Performance Indicators, ROI calculations and performance measures of all kinds. And as Meyers shares in his Forbes article, even *I* can't tell you how to mathematically figure out whether the investment in sales training is worth it in dollars spent vs dollars earned terms. Sure, I could do some fancy statistics work and get an 'r' factor to separate correlation from causation...but we still wouldn't really know if sales improved or declined because the economy had a hiccup, or the sales training had a fast impact, or another element came into play.

Prove It! Does Sales Training Really Work?

The Forbes article points out some scary stats on how companies go about determining the effectiveness of sales training. Look at how the interest level declines in management's attempt to find out "Does sales training really work?":

1. Nearly every time, management asks how the sales employee feels about the training program.

2. Just over a third of the time, they try to find out whether the salesperson learned something.

3. Less than one time in six(!) do they check if the sales staff are doing the behaviors they learned in the program!

4. And a whopping 97% of the time they cannot map the training to a positive result.

You might react to these numbers by saying, "I'll never get sales training again!" But that would be a mistake. The error lies not in the training, but in management's inability to quantify something that may not be directly quantifiable.

Meyer's real killer question about sales training is: "Do you want a salesforce that consistently deploys selling best-practices that lead to strong results, or an untrained salesforce that lapses in to bad habits that lead to mediocre results?"

And with that, I agree in the strongest possible terms. An untrained salesforce lacks a consistent sales process. 'To manage we must measure'--this is an Operations Management maxim. Without consistency, we cannot measure...or improve. If each member of your sales team is doing their own thing...following their own set of steps or lack thereof...stressing different aspects or techniques and ignoring others...you don't have any consistency. And so you cannot manage. The net results are purely accidental.

Ways To Help Answer "Does Sales Training Really Work"

Australian trainer Sue Barrett says online video training is a great option. I agree: it's effective, cost-saving, frees the student up to learn on their own time, can be easily added to with new content, and makes ongoing reinforcement consistent.

Richard Ruff recently reiterated: "Stop viewing training as an episodic event and start viewing it as an ongoing process." Change is the only consistent factor in the new world of selling, and a one-time attempt at improvement is not going to do the trick. Ruff also supports the idea of video training as an expert way to train new hires.

While quantifying a distinct ROI for sales training may be tough, the fact is without a consistent sales process your team will be conducting scattered, confused and uneven behaviors...leading to scattered, confused and uneven results. The answer to "Does sales training really work?" is the investment in sales training does pay off, with a process you can measure and manage.

>>Jason Kanigan helps companies position themselves with the right Price to gain Power in the marketplace, with which to maximize their Profit. Questions about the value of investing in sales training? Comment below to let us know! And please Like or Share to get this content in front of someone who needs it!<<


Improving Sales Performance–Not As Easy As You Think!

Improving Sales PerformanceImproving 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.

>> Jason Kanigan helps organizations that know how to competently fulfill a product or service maximize their profit. Have a question about improving sales performance? Comment below to let us know! And please Like or Share to get this info in front of someone else you know it can help! <<


Buyers are Liars

Buyers Are LiarsBuyers are Liars is a common phrase in sales training. Of course, buyers--or prospects, as we should be correctly terming them--have their own point of view: that salespeople are also liars who will say anything to get the order.

Sherlock Holmes doesn't need to swing by to deduce something dysfunctional is going on here.

How did this terrible Buyers are Liars situation come about? The answer is Bad Salespeople. Responsibility for every result in selling, good or bad, is on the shoulders of the salesperson. Not the prospect. The prospect only does things if we, the salesperson, set it up for them to, or if we allow them to. If you didn't say it was not okay for a prospect to do something, can you get upset with them when they do it? And when a salesperson doesn't care whether a prospect will truly benefit from getting the product or service pushed...when a salesperson is grasping for that order regardless of what they have to say to get it...when a salesperson abandons the buyer as soon as the money changes hands...two things have happened.

Why Buyers are Liars

First, the customer probably ended up with something they didn't need.

Second, the product or service likely doesn't do everything the buyer thought it was going to.

These two results are going to directly lead to buyer's remorse. And these results are precisely what has lead society to have an extremely negative view of salespeople. So much so that the prospect is entirely skeptical about the salesperson's motives. They enter the conversation convinced that the salesperson's purpose is to rip them off. That's why Buyers are Liars.

As experts on the mission of elevating the field of selling, this is the uphill battle we're dumped into. Whether we have individually done anything wrong or not, this is the attitude prospects bring into sales conversations.

Retail sales trainer Bob Phipps shares how the old adage of a skilled salesperson being able to"sell ice to Eskimos" is not a compliment. It's a demonstration of how society thinks salespeople are slimy tricksters who will say anything to get a sale.

If a prospect won't share with you the truth--even a little bit of the truth--about what's really going on in their world, you are never going to be able to truly qualify them. If you can't qualify them, you certainly shouldn't be selling to them.

How to Stop the Buyers are Liars Reflex

The only effective way of unraveling this thought exchange traffic snarl-up is to show the prospect that you are different. A consistent, ethical sales process that makes you behave differently than other salespeople the prospect has encountered, or even imagined, will often demonstrate to the prospect that you are not at all like the salesperson they had in mind.

Until you can overcome this 'trust hurdle' with your sales process, the buyer will lie by concealing the truth about what's really going on in their situation. They will lead you on in hopes of a free education. All they're interested in, when operating in this mode, is gathering features, benefits and pricing information from different vendors to later compare and determine who they can get what from for the lowest investment. Does this sound like it allows you to differentiate yourself?

No! But who's fault is it? The salesperson's. Like I said above, it is the salesperson's responsibility to ensure you run your process. If you permit the prospect to run their process, you have nobody to blame but yourself when they run true to form and lie, mislead and conceal. As an ethical salesperson, it is on your shoulders to make sure you are finding out whether you can really help this prospect or not--and that is qualifying.

Sometimes, a prospect won't open up to you. Don't take it personally. They aren't able to open up to anybody. A buyer who won't share the truth with you at all is someone you can Go For The No with. "Mr. Prospect...I think we have a problem." "When I've spoken with people before and all they want to know is my price and how I do what I do, it goes nowhere. If you aren't open to sharing with me what's really going on in your situation, I'm afraid I can't help you. So is it over?" Ask this and quickly smoke out who you should continue talking with and who you should end the conversation with.

Seriously, though, if it got to this point, you didn't do a good job of setting up the ground rules for your conversation at the beginning. You let the Buyers are Liars situation happen. Are you running through a description of "How we're going to have this conversation" with your prospect before you start diagnosing? If not, who's to blame for the outcome? ...right.

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