MYTH: I hire experienced salespeople. They don’t need training.
FACT: Experienced salespeople, if trained properly, are the ones who benefit the most from sales training as they are capable of quickly understanding and then implementing new concepts and successful sales techniques. Most experienced athletes have a coach and benefit by regular coaching sessions. Staying on top of one profession is a continual process and is rarely achieved without a program of ongoing coaching, self-evaluation and self-improvement.
MYTH: Sales training will not stick
FACT: Without follow up, salespeople will lose 80-90 percent of what they learned in training within just one month! All sales training programs should include follow up reinforcement and/or coaching by the training firm, sales managers or both. This follow up is key to leveraging the investment in training, increasing retention and improving sales performance.
MYTH: Sales training is not a highly-effective means to improve employee productivity.
FACT: A study of 540 companies conducted by the American Society for Training and Development shows that continuous investments in training and reinforcement result in over 50% higher net sales per employee, nearly 40% higher gross profits per employee and a 20% higher ratio in market-to-book value. The same study found that leading-edge companies:
- Spend some 6% of payroll on learning
- Train almost 90% of their employees during a given year, on the average
- Are 11-18% higher than the industry average in the use of outside training organizations
MYTH: Sales training effectiveness is difficult to measure.
FACT: Evaluation of sales training should occur at four levels:
- How learners and their managers react to specific sales training events (e.g. program evaluations)
- The degree to which learners acquire the knowledge and skills that the sales training was designed to provide (e.g. via testing knowledge of course materials)
- Knowledge transfer and on-the-job application of skills which trainees can apply after they return to their job. (e.g. observations of performance in the field and on the phone)
- What impact sales training has on results (e,g. improvement in revenues and profits per salesperson)
MYTH: You can’t see a direct result of sales training.
FACT: Many sales training programs fail because they do not relate to specific, measurable performance objectives. If performance objectives are established and then training is designed to provide specific sales tools and sales processes to achieve these objectives, sales training can be highly effective and specific results and outcomes can be measured and tracked.
MYTH: All sales training is pretty much the same and covers the same basic materials.
FACT: There are a number of different types of sales and a number of industry differences that require specific sales techniques. For example, one-call close sales situations demand (1) basic communication skills (questions, listening, etc), (2) basic sales skills (building rapport with customers, handling objections) and (3) a framework within which to utilize communication and sales skills: a sales process. In more complex selling environments such as those involving extended sales cycles, proficiency in up to seven major content areas is necessary if sales training class is to be effective: (1) organizational knowledge (2) product knowledge (3) selling strategy skills (4) industry awareness (5) sales support/account management and (6) team selling and (7) complex sales processes.
MYTH: A good sales training class is mostly a matter of pumping up the salespeople.
FACT: Be clear that a motivational experience isn’t the same as real sales training class. After rah-rah sessions, salespeople may show increased motivation levels for a short period of time but this increase in motivation does not last long. The things that may have demotivated people in the past, such as low closing rates or high levels of rejection, are still issues after motivational sessions have taken place. The best way to improve long-term motivation is to provide salespeople with successful sales techniques that they can use to boost their overall effectiveness, their personal earnings and ultimately, their self-confidence.
MYTH: We can do sales training ourselves and save money in the process.
FACT: Effective sales training includes a preliminary analysis of salesperson and management needs. This analysis measures the current sales skill levels of each salesperson as well as the gap between where they are currently and where they need to be. An experienced sales training organization, using a needs analysis, can be more effective in developing and delivering sales training classes. They already have highly-developed programs they can tailor to your needs as well as sales trainers experienced in training and motivating salespeople. Moreover, salespeople often find successful sales techniques and ideas introduced by outside firms to be more credible than what their managers tell them to do. Indeed, experienced sales managers often choose NOT to invest their valuable time preparing and delivering sales training classes themselves. Instead of focusing on saving thousands, they have their eye on the big picture: developing and closing millions of dollars of sales opportunities.