1) Theory and Role Play
Most sales training is filled with a lot of theory and good discussions around sales, but rarely provides any actionable insights or tools that we can apply immediately to our day-to-day lives that will make a difference. Role playing is used to try and simulate live customer engagements that aim at uncovering those insights and providing the tools.
However, they are rarely run effectively. They tend to paint one of two scenarios: 1) the perfect situation or 2) the most ridiculous situation possible. Neither of these are what we face on a day-to-day basis in our jobs.
The other problem with role playing is that the people brave enough to stand up and play the part are typically more worried about impressing their peers than they are about mastering whatever skills they are trying to learn.
In general, many of the webinars we attend or classes we go to talk about what we need to do, but they never actually tell us how to do it. Before going to your next sales training, make sure you read through or find out exactly what skills you’re going to walk away with and how you will be able to apply them immediately. Save the theoretical discussions for after work over a few beers, and save your role playing for your theater class.
2) Replace vs. compliment
It seems to me like most people who develop or deliver sales training think whatever they are presenting is the only way to do something, and whatever you did in the past was therefore wrong. If you’re relatively new in sales, it’s important to learn such a foundational process to work from. But once we get a little further into our careers and we’ve been reasonably successful, it’s somewhat insulting to have someone tell us to fundamentally change what we’ve been doing to get where we are.
There is not one sales process or approach that is the best for everyone and every situation. If there were, then there wouldn’t be as many sales training companies or methodologies as there are out there. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to look for the nuggets in all training and pull out the ones that make sense to you and your environment, and to use these to develop your own process.
3) The Trainer
One of the biggest reasons sales training fails is because it is delivered by someone who has never sold before, or if they did, weren’t very good at it. You can get away with this in many professions because there is usually a standard, agreed upon process which can be repeated and therefore delivered by anyone conversant in the process. As long as you can click through a powerpoint and walk people through, it doesn’t matter much that you don’t have a deep understanding or experience with the topic.
The problem with sales is much of it is based on personal experience and trial and error. There are processes and structure you can go through, but the stories and experience are what make them come to life. Most sales professionals want to learn from someone who has been in their shoes and knows what it is like to get knocked down over and over and over again, and yet keep coming back for more.
It’s not easy to be successful in this profession, but why would we listen to someone who wasn’t just because they can present well? The next time you are in the training, ask the trainer when was the last time they applied what they were about to train you on, and how it worked. If they can’t give you a concrete example that is relatively recent, I would recommend finding another training to go to.