The failure to properly train our sales forces can be attributed to a handful of different factors. In part II of this BLArticle® miniseries, I’ll continue with my explanation of what has created this problem. I’ll also show exactly what can be done about it. We desperately need trained professionals to assist us in making necessary, and intelligent, decisions. It starts by properly training these individuals, so they learn how to help those they are working with.
Problem #2 – Confusing “Motivation” With “Process”
A second classic reason why sales training often fails comes down to the way it is structured. A lot of sales training is really more motivational than instructional. I have nothing against motivational speaking; I do quite a bit of it myself. But when I conduct a motivational keynote, my intent is to do just that – motivate. I want participants to feel good about what they are doing. I want them to feel good about the way they do it. I am not speaking to educate; I’m speaking to inspire and entertain. However, when I do this, I want to make absolutely sure my client understands the difference.
One of my favorite motivational speakers was Matt Foley, a fictitious character played by the late, great, Chris Farley. From my experience as a professional speaker for many years, I can tell you that the portrayal of the motivational speaker by Chris, although perhaps a bit over-the-top, was not that far off! This type of presentation often creates tremendous visualizations supported by stories, analogies, quotes, and sheer showmanship. It can dazzle an audience, and be brilliant in its delivery. The only problem is this: It won’t teach you how to sell, and it should not be confused with sales training.
Many salespeople will watch a motivational presentation, or listen to a tape of this nature, and they’ll think that they are being taught how to sell. As a young insurance salesman, I remember being told by my sales manager to listen to all sorts of tapes to “help me sell.” One of my favorites was from the amazing Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. With a name like that, do I need to tell you more? In the 80’s, I even kicked around the idea of calling myself, “Rob “Tremendous” Jolles. (It was vetoed by my wife.) One of my favorite quotes that I saved from “Tremendous” was this one: “If you can’t be happy where you are, it’s a cinch you can’t be happy where you ain’t.”
What a force he was, but he was not necessarily offering us a sales tactic or a piece of a selling process. I have a vivid memory of standing in front of a customer with my head filled with too many motivational sayings and not enough sales training. I was so focused on the quotes and the inspirational sayings, I was unable to focus on the questions I should have been asking and the good listening skills I should have been demonstrating.
Solution #2 – Confusing “Motivation” With “Process”
We have to be very clear on the intent of the training we deliver. If it’s sales training, it should:
- Be longer than 60 minutes; a classic motivational time slot.
- Contain real, measureable, repeatable, and predictable processes.
- Incorporate real-world examples that those in the audience can identify with.
- Utilize small group activities, case-studies, role-plays and simulation, allowing those in the audience to not just hear what’s being said, but also partake in it.
I’ll always remain a big fan of the classic motivational speakers, and when called upon, I can clip on a mike and shake a room with the best of them. I’m not saying motivation isn’t necessary. What good is a selling process if you end up walking into a client interaction, and you’re totally unmotivated? What I am saying is please don’t confuse motivational talks with actual training. Instead, use the two in tandem. That means showing up with a process that works for you, and the motivation to bring that process to life. If you do, you’ll treat the next client you meet to one heck of a show!