The failure to properly sales train our sales forces can be attributed to a handful of different factors. In this four part BLArticle® miniseries, I’ll not only tell what has created this problem, I’ll 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 in how to help those they are working with.
Problem #3 – Reinforcing the Wrong Behaviors
A third reason for the failure in the training of salespeople centers around what happens when the training is completed. There is a learning curve that takes place, and that curve can initially impact sales numbers. The initial response might be a slight downturn in sales… but not for long. Unfortunately, some companies don’t have the stomach for this, but if that’s the case, why invest in sales training at all?
The whole idea behind learning a process is to give a structural series of techniques that are repeatable and predictable. The most powerful benefit of a process is the fact that when you are performing predictable, repeatable techniques in a sequence, you are able to measure your performance.
~ When you have a process, you have a way of measuring what you’re doing. When you can measure it, you can fix it. ~
Without a process, sales training, or just about any training, can fall into the dreaded “flavor of the month” category and can be perceived as a waste of time. But, like learning anything worthwhile, once understood and implemented, the longer-term results can be amazing.
Solution #3 – Reward Process Behaviors
The solution is an easy one, but it takes courage. There must be a separate incentive to follow an agreed upon process, regardless of results. Traditionally in sales, actual sales success typically trumps all other feedback. In other words, regardless of how salespeople achieve results, if those results are successful, he or she is showered with praise… and money.
If there is no incentive tied to how an individual achieves success, process behaviors take a backseat to end results. This is where the courage comes in. It’s not easy to look at someone who is leading the company in sales, and be critical of how those numbers were achieved. However, by not making this a part of the evaluation process, there could be some corporate cultural issues being compromised. If a company is willing to put their salespeople through sales training, and the sales force agrees to adhere to that process, management needs to step to the plate and stand behind that process.
Understanding this is why companies like Xerox were known as masters of implementation. When working for Xerox, the evaluation process for all who sold was split between actual sales numbers, and actual observed process behaviors. This, in turn, became a crucial part of the review process. It was not unusual for a sales person who was 150% of a given plan to receive what amounted to an average review. Top tier reviews required exceeding expectations in all areas, and without following the agreed upon sales process, individuals were no longer exceeding expectations in all areas. That’s also why when meeting with a salesperson from Xerox, the sales experience was professional, consistent, and the sales force was considered one of the finest in the world.
Looking the top salesperson in the eye and providing him or her with an average review, based on the lack of process followed, is not the easiest thing to do. In fact, it could potentially cost you the services of a great selling salesperson. It could also help you effectively manage the rest of your sales force. You would be taking a significant step in implementing the training you’ve invested in, and as a result, you would increase all sales effectiveness behaviors, and potentially save the reputation of your organization. Now, that’s a risk worth taking!