9 Warning Signs You Need a Sales Training Overhaul

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Sales representatives can find themselves in a difficult position when it comes to training. All reps need it, but an ineffective sales training class provides little more than the kind of time-suck reps can hardly afford. Here’s what one should avoid when setting up training and how reps can clearly communicate to managers what they need to help them sell. Republished with permission from Dave Stein, CEO of ES Research Group.

To Sales Reps and Their First-Line Managers:

You have the right to be:

  1. Assessed for your individual strengths and weaknesses
  2. Educated and trained in areas where you need improvement in ways you learn most effectively and efficiently,
  3. Provided with the tools and support to sell,
  4. Sent back into the field with improved selling capabilities, no matter how much experience you have, and
  5. Be coached and provided with ongoing reinforcement to sustain that improvement.

A colleague of mine is a partner in an outsourced telesales firm. I know him from his past life as a sales rep. He worked for some big name technology companies and was consistently the top performer. He is a sales heavy-hitter if there ever was one. He earned a million or so a year for many years.

We discussed sales training. He said, “I can’t tell you how many sales training programs I’ve sat through. The programs were too long, didn’t provide me with value. They were an incredible waste of time.” Here is what really got me. “I was offended that management would think so little of me to force me to sit through that.”

Did my colleague need training when he was a rep? Sure. He admits he did. But the training he needed had to help him do one thing—sell more. The training he received missed the mark, again and again.

Here are some of sales training abuses from the sales rep’s perspective:

  • Being trained by someone who never sold.
  • Being trained by someone who doesn’t know anything about how their buyers buy.
  • Being trained by someone who clearly doesn’t understand how tough their competitors are.
  • Being trained by someone who is more focused on entertaining them than helping them get their job done (so the trainer gets good marks on the post-program evaluation).
  • Being trained by someone who tells them what to do, but not how to do it.
  • Being forced to sit in a training class where 80% of what they learn is irrelevant to them.
  • Being trained on a skill or a process only to find out after the program that there are no tools, no marketing support, and management doesn’t know what the reps are talking about.
  • Coming out of a class confused about what to do next.
  • Not having any post-program support from management or the training provider.

To read the rest of this article, go to Dave Stein’s Blog.

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Referred to by Geoffrey James, author of the Sales Machine blog on CBS Interactive’s BNET as “the world’s top expert on sales training,” Dave Stein, CEO of ES Research Group, Inc., has provided guidance, expertise and coaching to companies such as Bayer, HP, Microsoft and Oracle.