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How Was the Sales Training? 14 Comments to Avoid at All Costs

Failure is popular these days.

Seriously.

I’ve been reading (and recommend) The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. In The Lean Startup, Ries covers a number of concepts to help entrepreneurs and their new ventures to succeed. One such concept is ‘Validated Learning’.
Essentially, Validated Learning is a process by which you try a lot of things that you think make sense, measure the results, find that you made a lot of mistakes and hit on some successes, and keep on keeping on by avoiding the mistakes and testing new things.

I like it. For a business. 

For sales training, not so much.

I’m a fan of failure when the consequences of it are small and the learning can lead to big wins. With product features, market positioning, pricing, lead generation campaigns and other areas, tests can fail and few in the market will remember or care.

Fail with your sales team, however, and good luck getting a second (or third, or fourth) chance.

If you’re a company leader, sales leader or sales trainer, you don’t want it to feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill every time you do something with the aim of improving sales performance.

If your initiative doesn’t work, getting the team’s attention and commitment to anything you present to them after a big fat fail is almost impossible. (And you thought it was tough to get their attention and commitment before a big fat fail.)

What does sales training failure look like? Hear any of the following comments after asking, “How was the sales training?” and you’re closing in on it.

  1. This program wasted my time. What a joke.
  2. The instructor…where’d you get that guy?
  3. I didn’t really see how it all connected. Couldn’t we have put something together that was really applicable to us?
  4. (One week after the program)

    You: “What did you cover?”

    Participant: “You know, sales skill stuff.”

    You: “Like what?”

    Participant: “Well, I don’t have my binder in front of me...let me go get it.”
  5. Did it have to be so boring? Having someone talk at me for 2 days was a bad idea.
  6. So the sales training program’s over. Am I supposed to do something differently now?
  7. We learned about asking great questions. The right questions. Wish I knew what they were…
  8. What they suggest we do for selling...unrealistic. Won’t work. Too complicated. Too simplistic. Doesn’t feel right. Doesn’t fit our specific business.
  9. At the sales training we learned about all the drivers that make top sellers successful, and the problems that can hold them back. How do I stack up against them? Without that insight, I don’t know where to change. What to work on.
  10. I tried to apply what I learned and it didn’t work. In fact, it was embarrassing.
  11. I tried to apply what I learned but couldn’t figure out how to do that.
  12. (Several months after the program)

    You: “Let’s talk about what you learned in the sales training program. What are your key takeaways that you’re using?”

    Participant: “You know, I’m using all the skills that I learned.”

    You: “Like which ones?”

    Participant: “Well, I don’t have my binder in front of me...let me go get it.”
  13. How am I doing with it all now? Have I improved? Wish I knew…
  14. Company leader: “It’s been a year since sales training. What have the results been so far? Are people using it? Have they improved? Are sales up? Margins up? Cross selling up? Account retention up?”

    You: “I wish I had that data. Sorry.”

Pick your poison.

It’s true, I’m a fan of failure. Wayne Gretzky used to say that he missed all of the shots that he didn’t take. He failed in order to succeed.

You have to take shots, too. It’s the only way you’ll improve your fortunes and find success.

Yet you have, within your power, the ability to maximize your chances for success while, at the same time, minimizing your missed shots. Think Validated Learning, but with a twist.

Instead of learning from your own failures and successes, start by avoiding the failures that others have made, and building on their successes.

Curious to find out what some of these Sales Training failures and successes are?

Additional Reading
5 Essentials for Managing Your Sales Organization’s Talent

Attracting and retaining top sales talent is a huge challenge for many companies.

If you want to take your sales results to the next level, your organization must have the right people in the right roles, performing at a high level day in and day out. You also need the right management team with an effective process in place to ensure this all happens.

6 Key Areas to Optimize Sales Operations

It may not be considered the most glamorous aspect of sales management, but as business and technology have evolved, it’s widely acknowledged that getting sales operations right is imperative for a smoothly run, effective sales organization. On his blog, Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing even hails it as “THE most important and unsung hero for sales teams.”

4 Key Components of Your Sales Organization's Structure

In sales forces of any size, changing the sales organization structure is an uphill battle. Structure relates to the organization of selling at the company, including sales compensation, territory design, account and lead assignments, and more.

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