Conventional sales techniques have not worked well in the past, and they sure as heck don’t work very well today. In spite of the millions of dollars spent annually to train corporate sales forces how to sell, they fail again and again. There are two major reasons for this.

First of all, the introductory and follow up training, which virtually all sales people receive, is not actually sales training. What most company’s consider to be “sales training” is in fact product training masquerading as sales training! This is probably the most significant contributor to why sales people fail — they don’t stop talking about their product.

It’s hard for me to say that all the product information that’s being taught and confused for sales training is unnecessary.  At the risk of offending you, my reader, I will simply say that in my opinion, it’s overrated.  Think about the last time you made a significant decision with the assistance of a sales person.  Did you make that decision because you felt the sales person was brilliant, or did you make that decision because you liked and trusted the person you were working with?

Another reason for the failure of sales training is that far too much time is spent teaching people to sell (Yep, you read that right). Ironically, this is precisely why the training doesn’t work. Speak with your typical career salesperson and they will roll their eyes when asked to recall the number of sales courses they have been forced to attend. We’ve become so obsessed with the latest selling techniques that the most important selling factor has been almost completely forgotten — the client.

Here are a couple of points few salespeople will ever dispute:

  1. Most clients go through repeatable, predictable steps when making buying decisions.
  2. Despite countless hours of “sales training,” few salespeople ever learn how their clients make decisions.

So, why shoot the sales trainer?  Quite simply, they don’t usually teach people how to sell.  They don’t teach people how to ask questions and listen.  They don’t teach sales people how to problem solve.  Most importantly, they don’t teach sales people how to persuade.

Shoot the sales trainer?  Remember, I’m a sales trainer, and I say if we aren’t teaching the basics, get rid of us.  We need to stop fooling ourselves into thinking that the basics of selling are instinctive.  They are not.

I make a living not only teaching sales people, but observing them as well.  I don’t hear questions being asked, and when I do, I certainly don’t hear open questions being asked.  What I do hear is, “Oh, I learned that a long time ago.”  Well, if it isn’t being reinforced, it isn’t being implemented.

Product knowledge continues to overpower selling knowledge and learning real, live selling skills including the art of creating trust, and urgency in a consultative manner will go a long way to keeping anyone from shooting the sales trainer.

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