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Top Five Tips for Sales Training

— by Ian Stewart

Employee trainingLearning developmentSales training

Sales is a tough nut to crack — some people seem to get it, while others always lag behind, struggling to keep their numbers up. And teaching it to a newbie? It can feel practically impossible. Worn-out cliches and advice about sizing up the situation, or looking for a way in don’t always get you very far.

That’s why designing a smart, sophisticated, and accessible sales training program is so vital for so many businesses. So here’s five of our best pieces of advice about designing that killer sales training initiative:

Don’t Sell B.S. to Salespeople

Salespeople, as Inc. columnist Geoffrey James puts it, as basically “B.S. detectors.” And as a result, they’re incredibly practically minded. That’s why training programs for them have to be entirely focused on their bottom line — anything that doesn’t directly help improve their numbers is useless. Motivational speaking isn’t sales training. (This is a two-part story; the second half is here.)

Training Sales Reps, and the Selective Attention Challenge

People (and especially salespeople) have a known tendency to see and hear what they want to, not what’s really there. That’s called “selective attention.” That works two ways: either it makes you ignorant and clueless when it comes to reading a situation, or it makes you a dogged, determined pursuer of new business. Either way, subjectivity is a real and important thing to consider during sales training.

Does Sales Coaching Work? Yes.

What do concert pianists, Olympic sprinters, and Broadway actors all have in common? Besides gobs of talent, I mean. Coaches. Even people who are at the top of their game benefit from having someone they trust give them some pointers, or just keep them on the right track. Salespeople can have a tendency to think they don’t need any help, but even just game-planning a sales call with a trainer or coach can go a long way.

Tailoring Sales Training the Right Way

Few, if any, companies want an out-of-the-box sales training program. (Everyone’s unique, everyone’s special.) That means organizations tend to modify, or tailor, sales programs to fit their company. That’s great. But it can be dangerous — managers often modify these programs so much that they end up looking suspiciously similar to the same-old techniques they’ve been teaching all along. This defeats the point of investing in a new training program. Resist that devolution of sales training programs.

What We Mean When We Say ‘Sales Training’

The problem with the Internet age is that once a phrase has a meaning, it’s hard to change it. If your business started touting its “sales performance-enhancing” techniques, people would probably think you sold steroids. But internally, at least, it’s worth trying to think outside of the traditional lingo about what you are, what you do, what you want. Don’t get caught up in the lexicon of what everyone else is doing.

Related: Top Five PowerPoint Design Tips for Trainers.

Image via Uncyclopedia.

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