We talk to a lot of people about sales training, and we run into a lot of the same ideas. Some of them are valid, but some don’t really make sense. Here are 12 common misconceptions about sales training.
1. Sales training doesn’t work.
We actually hear this one a lot. Some people have had a bad experience with training, or they just have the idea that training doesn’t have an impact.
While there isn’t a great deal of published research on the topic, research has indicated that training is likely to make more salespeople reach their quotas. In addition, we’ve all met salespeople who were clearly well-trained and those who weren’t. Which are you more likely to buy from?
2. Sales training is all we need to do.
On the flip side, we talk to some people who think training is the solution to every problem! This couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you don’t have an effective sales process, solid sales managers, and a comprehensive support system, all the training in the world won’t solve your sales problems.
3. I don’t need to be involved.
Believe it or not, we hear from some VPs and managers who tell us to train their people, but don’t think they need to be involved.
If you think you can just send your team off to be trained, you’ll be the first person to accidentally sabotage the process. You’ll be unaware of what they learned and out of touch with any language, philosophy, or breakthroughs they experienced. And you won’t be able to take a leadership role moving forward.
4. The sales team is the only audience for sales training.
It’s hard enough to pull the sales team out of the field for one or two full days, and many clients want to keep the participant list short. This can be a huge problem, though, as it can perpetuate silos and keep key learning in a small group.
Who on your team interfaces with clients? Who is involved in making key product and service decisions? Who participates in the sales process? All of those people should participate in sales training.
5. Sales training is a one-time event.
If you think all you need is a one or two-day training event, you will end up believing that training doesn’t work. That event might result in a short-term bump in sales, but it will soon fade as people fall back into their old habits.
Training is most effective when it’s part of a full sales improvement program, combining in-person training, reinforcement, process improvement, and accountability.
6. Sales training models don’t matter.
There are a lot of sales training models out there, and as a sales leader you have your choice of books to read and theories to try out. It may sometimes seem like any approach would work, as long as you could get your team to stick to it.
While many sales training models are quite effective, and each one has value, it is key to spend time understanding the philosophy of each method. If it doesn’t fit your sales process, your team, or your culture, it won’t work.
7. Product training is more important than sales skills training.
It can be easy to think product or service training is the biggest issue. If only your salespeople could talk about your offering better, they’d clearly be closing more deals. It can even be easy to get partners and suppliers involved in providing this training, making it seem almost foolproof.
Unfortunately, product training, when not combined with sales skill training, simply results in a team that is great at presenting yet struggles with every other aspect of selling, including getting those meetings in order to present your solution. Your team needs to be able to speak confidently about your offering, but they also need to know how to sell.
8. I need a trainer from my industry.
In conversations with CEOs and VPs, we are often asked about our industry experience. In general, many people think it’s best to have a trainer who has worked in their industry or a training program customized for their industry.
While industry knowledge is helpful, sticking to industry insiders can limit creativity and severely reduce the pool of potential training partners. The majority of selling skills are independent of industry, and any good sales training partner will be able to learn the key aspects of your business and industry quickly to customize their program.
9. Training materials need to be comprehensively documented.
We often get pushback from people when they see our workbooks, which are very white-space heavy and leave a lot of room for notes. We’ve discovered, though, that people learn best when they take notes. You’re also significantly more likely to retain what you’ve learned when you handwrite notes than when you type them.
Some training guides and workbooks are full of content, leaving small spaces to fill in blanks and add examples. While these may look great, they don’t foster effective learning.
10. Training and selling are completely different things.
It can be easy to see how often selling translates into different areas of life, from dating to job interviews to negotiations. It can be more difficult, though, to see how training can relate to selling.
A discovery-based sales training model leads participants to discover content and value, which is an exchange of trust. The related discovery-based selling model uses the same approach, allowing prospects to discover your value. Using these models in both training and selling
11. The team will learn everything from the trainer.
It can be easy to think all of the responsibility lies on the sales trainer. They’re coming in with expertise, and the sales team just needs to listen and apply it.
Through the years, we’ve discovered that a salesperson will more readily accept information from a peer, especially a top producer, rather than an outsider. The outside trainer can provide significant value by facilitating this information-sharing.
12. The team doesn’t need to buy in.
Your sales team’s opinion doesn’t really matter, right? You’re the decision-maker, and you know how to fix your problems.
Unfortunately, a sales team that’s not bought into your solution will destine a sales training program to fail. They don’t need to all approve, and they may not even all get a vote, but enrolling key members of the sales team as thought leaders, and getting them to step up as project drivers, will drive adoption and engagement.
What ideas do you have about sales training? We’d love to hear them in the comments.
And if your sales have been struggling, check out our resource to help you troubleshoot your sales problems and figure out where to start in solving them.