The Gap In Sales Training

Sales training, we’ve all been through it. In almost every case it’s about teaching us something new. I’m a fan of sales training because I’m a fan of learning. Anytime I or my teams can learn something new, I’m good with it.

Despite my fondness of “good” sales training, sales training operates from an interesting premise. The premise; sales people need to learn something NEW and that good sales training teaches us something we didn’t know.  I call teaching us something new, sales education, not sales training.

Training is the strengthening of our existing skills. Training is the work we do to keep existing skills sharp. In sports, training is the weightlifting, running, core strengthening, diet, film study, and the PRACTICE we do everyday to stay sharp. Training is much more than adding a slider to your pitches, learning the cross-over dribble, learning a new swim stroke, a new defense, a new batting stance, a new way to cover a receiver, etc. Training is more than learning something new. It’s getting better at what we are already good at.

Sales training lacks actual training. Traditional sales training focuses on teaching us new things not honing our existing skills. That’s probably why 87% of the information sales people acquire during training is forgotten within 30 days.

Most sales training is focused on developing new skills.  Each sales training delivering the “new and greatest” next thing. This is good once in a while, but sales needs more than that.

What sales people need is a way to hone what they are already doing. A way to stay sharp. A way to stay on top of their game.

For me it’s reading. The more I read about the industry I’m working with the sharper I am. The more I read about finance, business, psychology, the web, social selling and more, the better sales person and sales leader I am.  I can’t figure out why, but It’s a fact in my world — reading is my training.

I’m not convinced traditional sales training can actually train sales people. Traditional sales training is more like an education. It’s like adding the new pitch to your repertoire or learning to cross over dibble.  The training sales people need everyday, the training that keeps them sharp is personal. It has to focus on making them better at what they already do.  It has to be created by the sales rep. It has to fit their strengths, their weaknesses, their style and their needs.

I’m a fan of traditional sales training. I love learning new things. However, in most cases, sales people don’t need to be educated in new things, they need to do what they are doing now, better.

How do you stay sharp?  How do you “train” everyday?  If you don’t have a training regiment, you should.

Train like athlete, it’s half the battle.