Every day I see advertising for some sort of sales training. Whether it be overall motivational training or something more functional like handling objections or calling prospects, there is seemingly no end to the number of courses or trainings and the self-proclaimed gurus that claim that their training is better than everybody else’s. The funny thing is almost none of it works.
Most sales managers don’t want to spend the money to send their sales representatives to training anymore because they don’t see the return on the value. Think about – They send their reps out for a weekend seminar that costs on average $1500 per person. The sales rep the sun get motivated and that motivation lasts all of may be three days.
There is no real application for them nor is there any ongoing coaching or accountability. This is the reason why most sales managers will no longer fork over money just to send their sales reps to a motivational seminar or other sales training. The ones that do are hoping to see some kind of difference and unfortunately most the time they don’t.
Why is it that they don’t see the return value? Why is it that their sales representatives are not able to take the sales seminars and sales trainings in turn them into cold hard cash and higher revenues and sales? I just said the answer is the fact that it’s a one weekend seminar. Maybe they get a book, a couple of DVDs with the higher price programs and seminars, but there is no accountability.
The sales manager probably didn’t go to the seminar and didn’t know the techniques that were covered and most the time the techniques that were covered were generic in nature. What this means is they were not specific to any one industry. This is a big problem with sales trainings. Some techniques are industry-specific and will not work in other industries. The sales gurus out there will not tell you that – they are only interested in getting as many warm bodies as they can to their expensive seminars. To them you’re just a meal ticket.
What’s better than seminars is real training that ongoing. How does one do that and how much does it cost? To start, what it requires is that sales managers stop being lazy and go and hold their sales representatives accountable and also coach them. You can’t expect greatness with no effort. You also have to inspect what you expect (Vince Lombardi quote).
The best way to do this is for sales managers to have one-on-one meetings with each sales representative once every two weeks. At these meetings the sales reps will be shown how they’re doing in relation to the other sales representatives both in their company and in the industry (this is important especially for the more talented individuals because they will eventually need something higher to compare themselves to).
In these meetings the managers will give the sales reps goals to shoot for that are attainable and also help them with techniques on how to get through any tough situations they’re dealing with. For instance if they’re having problems getting through voicemail or getting prospects to call them back. Maybe they’re having hurdles with a certain objection. Whatever it is the sales manager needs to be touching each and every single one of the sales reps at least once every two weeks.
The sales manager needs to commit themselves to learning new techniques and staying on top of the industry. You can’t expect your sales representatives to be the best in the industry if you don’t know any of the latest techniques or have any creativity. The industry and the times have changed. What worked 30 years ago no longer works today. You need to stay on top of the industry and new technology related to it.
Sales managers who no longer be seeing as just a manager. They need to be seen as a coach. The sales representatives need to be seen as the team. When I walk in the car dealerships and I see the sales managers sitting behind a desk gossiping while there’s nothing going on in the sales reps shooting the breeze in the parking lot it blows my mind. Down times are the best times for sales managers to be coaching their sales representative’s and coaching them towards greatness.
Downtime should be seen as game-time. It’s time to instill good motivational and sales training books and they don’t have to be the latest to be the greatest. The greatest sales books ever written are not new – just look up names like Napoleon Hill and his books Think and Grow Rich. It’s a proven fact that books like Napoleon Hill’s or Zig Ziglar’s have increased sales rep’s productivity, sales closing percentages, and virtually doubled revenues at all sorts of companies. So why don’t more people read these books, try these techniques and implement them?
Why isn’t there more ongoing coaching in sales departments? I can literally walk into almost any sales department and not find a single motivational or sales related book – that’s pathetic because that means that the management staff at that company is ineffective at best. They are literally leaving millions of dollars all over their sales floor. Expensive seminars are not the solution and that’s why the sales manager are not seeing any return on their value.
The solution here is:
1) involvement or buy-in by the management team
2) ongoing coaching of the staff ( 1 on 1 meetings once every 2 weeks)
3) accountability on all fronts
4) providing sales materials that really work (Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar, etc… – not expensive seminars)
The sales representatives have to be given techniques and shown examples of how they work. They need to see how those examples and sales techniques will earn the more money. How they will transpire into more customers and better customer retention.
They also have to be given a chance to fall sometimes. Not every sales representative is going to have a great month every month. Coach them through the bad months. During down times sales managers have no place sitting behind their desk gossiping with one another. They need to be out actively coaching inspiring their sales representatives.
They need to be actively finding out what roadblocks the sales reps are running into and researching and finding solutions to those roadblocks and then teaching their team how to overcome those same roadblocks. In the sales industry there is very little true coaching that goes on. When it does occur it is usually followed by sales reps that break records and have extremely low turnover ratios.
If you are a sales manager or business executive in charge of sales you need take this to heart. If your sales team is not delivering, it’s not because they don’t want to or can’t. It’s most likely because they haven’t been shown or coached how. Take the time to learn how to do a quick 30 minute one-on-one meetings. Learn how to coach your sales representatives and inspire them to greatness.
This is why most sales seminars and sales trainings are a waste of money. What really needs to happen is the sales managers need to take responsibility and accountability and start coaching their sales staff. They need to find out where the problems are that the representatives are running into and find solutions for them and then coach their team to overcome those hurdles. They also have to learn how to coach them and pick them up when they’re feeling down.
So instead of sending your sales reps to an expensive seminar in finding out that it won’t work because it usually never does. Learn about how to coach. It’s no different than a Little League baseball team. There are great coaches and then there are those that cannot coach if your life depended upon it. Which type of coach are you or which type of coach is your manager? Are they a great coach or a terrible coach? Do they inspire you to greatness or are they just a gossip buddy?
Little piece of advice get a great classic sales book (like Napoleon Hill’s Positive Mental Attitude)and give a copy to every member of your sales staff. Give each sales representative homework assignment that for the next weeks meeting they have to read the first chapter. Then asked them questions in the next weeks meeting about the chapter that they read. Hold them accountable. If there’s someone there that didn’t read the book then they don’t qualify for any house deals, or they lose their spiffs, or they have to do some other job that takes them away from sales to make up for the fact that they didn’t do what they’re supposed to do.
Do this every week until you get through the book. You may find that some chapters are a little harder or more comprehensive than others so for some chapters you may have to do more than one week to get all the techniques and ideas understood. That doesn’t matter the goal is to teach something new every week and make the sales representatives take responsibility and read the book on their own. Then watch what happens – you all of a sudden have sales representatives selling twice their goals. You have sales representatives being more responsible for their daily activities and they will stop wasting time because their bosses or managers are not wasting time.
See that’s part of the battle here is that the sales managers at most sales related companies waste a lot of time that should be spent coaching their sales staff. The sales staff sees the managers wasting time and so they do the same because that’s what they are taught essentially. And that’s why sending them then to a expensive seminar won’t create any real value. So instead of wasting money and resources on expensive seminars instead put a little bit of money into purchasing a great sales book for each representative and start coaching them and watch what happens – they will turn over a new leaf and start chasing after greatness.
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Also, remember and thank the one who makes everything possible – God!