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3 Objections to Sales Training and Why This Hurts Your Business

Andrew Ford
By | High Performance Sales Tips, Sales Coaching | October 27, 2013 | Comments (0)

Here are three objections often heard when it comes to salesperson development:

  • We hire people to do the job, sink or swim, training is remedial.
  • Training is too expensive, and we haven’t seen an ROI.
  • Why train someone who is going to leave and use the skills elsewhere?

The most common lament among entrepreneurs is frustration with sales results, but at the same time no one wants to invest in salesperson training due to the objections above.

Problem 1: An Untrained Labour Pool

The most common issue in modern sales teams is a lack of sales skills.  In the old days, the 70’s and 80’s, there were “puppy mills” of salespeople.  Not the prettiest metaphor, but apt none the less.  Companies like Xerox, I.B.M., H.P, all of the insurers, and a host of mid-sized computer hardware makers that are gone now, used to hire university grads and put them into large sales training programs.  Over time these grads cycled out of these large companies and were available for hire by small and medium sized entrepreneurial businesses.  Today, none of these companies are churning out fully trained salespeople; in fact, most young talent has had no sales training at all.  “Sink or swim” was a reasonable strategy when you could hire a trained salesperson, but “sink or swim” today is a recipe to fund the school of “trial and error”, which a very inefficient teaching method.  In other words you are paying for training, it is just that the cost is buried into salaries, poor results, turnover, and recruiting fees.

Problem 2: The Nature of Training Alternatives Available to Entrepreneurs

Unlike their larger corporate cousins from a previous era, small and medium enterprises cannot afford to build “Sales Academies” dedicated to training.  Instead, they must send salespeople to seminars and workshops that are episodic and sporadic.  These programs are isolated from the day-to-day sales work in the company, and are often not the same programs that their managers or co-workers have taken.  This makes it really difficult for the training to be contextualized into the entrepreneur’s business environment, and most of the lessons do not stick.  No wonder it is so hard to get to an ROI.

Problem 3: High Turnover in Sales Teams

High turnover in sales team feels like a disincentive to invest in training.  Entrepreneurial sales teams are much smaller than the old “sales bullpens” of the 70′s and 80′s.  This lack of depth in the “sales bullpen” is a big disadvantage for salesperson development in today’s smaller teams. For example, in the old days, if a young salesperson came back from a tough sales call they would come into a room full of old pros.  The pros would see the dejected young rep and ask, “What’s up?”  The rookie could then tell their sad story, “Well, I went to see that new C.F.O. at Widgets-r-us and he just tore me apart!”  Now the pro can deconstruct what happened, share a past experience, and coach the rookie to prepare for his next tough call.  Instead, today, in most entrepreneurial businesses, that rookie comes back, just as dejected, but with no access to old pros (After all, there are only two salespeople plus the CEO in the company: who has time for coaching?).  Today’s rookies just have to learn from their mistakes.  Before long most rookies give up or are fired, and the entrepreneur says “Why invest in training when the turnover is so high?”

The Answer is Simple.

Today’s high turnover in the sales team is a key obstacle to getting consistent sales results.  Hiring a bunch of young reps and hoping they work out without any investment from the organization is a game we like to call the “Talent Lottery”, and as with all lotteries, there are more losers than winners.  The solution is to take a fresh look at training, but it needs to be a new kind of training, it needs to be development.  The difference between training and development is that training is an isolated episodic event; development is integrated into the on-going day-to-day work experience over time.  Development includes: training for skills, practice for knowledge, and coaching to build the habits and behaviors of success.  The sales high performance teams of the future will be in entrepreneurial businesses that commit to building sales stars through a long term methodical development model over time, because it is really hard to hire productive free agents today.  This process depends on having an integrated development plan that includes sales skills training, a team playbook on how your team wins, deliberate practice to learn the plays, and a coaching/mentoring model that drives new habits and behaviors into the day-to-day salesperson experience.  Without this development model the training investment of your business will be hidden inside the cost of a sales team with poor results and high turnover.

If you are interested in a truly evolved sales development model that includes training, I invite you to check out the new Sales CoPilot Academy and help your sales team learn the right sales skills and acquire the habits and behaviors to deliver Sales Results for Life in your business and their career.


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