If you are considering taking a sales training program, how do you decide the best one for you?
There are several kinds of sales training;
A. Training based on specific psychological process. Neuro Linguistic Programming, hypnosis, types of customer personalities, tonality, body language, memory tricks, negotiation. This isn’t so much sales training, as thinking processes as applied to selling. The book Influence by Robert Cialdini comes to mind. A very good book on how different aspects of persuasion work, but not really a training course on how to use it in your daily selling. Still, one of the top 5 books I recommend to salespeople.
B. Training from someone that only works in the industry that you are in. This is great for basic training, but even the best salespeople, if they only learn what is currently in their own industry, will eventually just be repeating what everyone else in the industry is doing. For example, my greatest gains in personal selling came after I studied what was done in several different industries, including direct marketing and advertising methods. Then these methods were translated to fit what I was selling. It create huge increases in my sales volume, doing things that nobody else in my core industry was doing.
C. Training from a non-salesperson….management consultant, a speaker who does sales training, a company that offers many courses, motivational speakers and coaches offering sales training. I have read a few books by consultants that include very informative studies on what customers like, and how thy buy. But the types of teachers generally read several books on selling, and repeat what they read. Much of this is recycled old sales material. Techniques that aren’t real. Scripts that don’t sound like what anyone would really say, techniques that sound great but have never worked in practice. So many of these people have…as sales experience, the Summer they spent selling vegetables at their parent’s farm, or a paper route they had as a kid. They write a course on selling (or even just a book) because there are so many salespeople out there, it seems like a good way to expand their market.
D. Sales training that only teaches one step in selling…. Closing, cold calling, time management, attitude, goal setting, establishing rapport, referrals, or selling against competition. I have seen several intensive trainings in just one aspect of selling, from an expert in that one field…usually about one specific way to prospect for new business. Some of this training is quite good. I have noticed that the best training of this kind comes from salespeople who have actually used this exact method themselves for many years. They have worked out all the bugs. The problem with a comprehensive training program on, let’s say referral prospecting, is that the trainer has to now create an entire sales sequence that depends entirely on getting referrals, and getting them the way the trainer instructs. And most trainers that train on one aspect of selling, leave you to stitch their approach with the other types of training, and it ends up not being free flowing, as it should be.
The exception to this is cold calling for an appointment. You can learn how to make appointments over the phone from an accomplished sales trainer, and then every other aspect of your selling system can be separate. So, if you currently make cold calls, and just want to sharpen your skills in this one area, there are several good courses by accomplished salespeople to chose from.
E. Sales training taught by an experienced salesperson with decades of actual practice…making money by selling in a real industry. Of course, this is self serving…but in my experience, this is the way to go. There are several things to look for however;
- Make sure the training can apply to what you sell. For example, a phenomenal course in selling life insurance may not transfer well to selling heavy machinery.
- Makes sure the sales trainer, if they are not specifically in your business, has experience with multiple industries….preferably actual sales experience in multiple industries.
- Is the training just in principles and theories, or can you immediately use some of what you learn?
- Does the training continue after the initial training? Can you ask questions of the trainer after you go through the training?
- Will you have access to the other salespeople the trainer has worked with to gather insights from several different experts, when you ask a question?
- Will the sales training build on the company training you have already received?
This article is the first in a short series on Sales training. Sales training isn’t generally cheap, and involves plenty of time and effort on your part. One way to make sure you are successful quickly is to not waste time on training by people who have never sold anything, or on training on only one specific psychological process or theory.