Are you held back by lack of training?

Do you think you’re losing sales because you haven’t had proper training? Here’s how you can bridge your knowledge gap.

When I talk to other salespeople about how they’re getting on, I often hear complaints. I’ve written a few articles about them, including this one about the role of luck in sales. This time, I want to focus on a complaint I heard about training, or the lack of it. Salespeople often tell me that when they start at a new company, they’re expected to just ‘get on with it’. Because they’re not trained about the best way to sell their product, they end up losing sales and wasting leads. What can be done?

Exceptions to the rule

Firstly, let me say that in my experience, most companies don’t just let their salespeople go straight onto the phones these days. We’ve had some great talks from sales leaders at our Sales Confidence live events, where the speakers have laid out exactly how they onboard new starters. Here are a few that come to mind.

• Peter Crosby told us about how, when he was at Triptease, they would roleplay everything during coaching. They would also regularly record sales calls and go through the recordings with the salespeople, to work out how to do things better.

• Jacqui De Gernier, VP of Sales at DocuSign, told us about their onboarding process. New starters need to achieve certification in 3 stages of the sales process, demo, discovery and proposal generation.

• Richard Potter from Peak explained to us how new starters spend large amounts of time with the founders, so they can find out absolutely everything about the company.

Sure, not everyone is as good as our Sales Confidence top sales leaders, but today, most companies put a lot of thought into their training processes.

Problems with sales training

Here are some of the complaints I hear about sales training.

• It’s too general — not specific enough to my product.

• My training doesn’t focus on me — it’s too one-size-fits-all

• It’s never reinforced — I go to a training day, but then that’s it

• My manager doesn’t get involved — they use outside trainers who don’t have the personal touch

• My manager does get involved, but they’re great at sales, not coaching

The solution

The thing about a company’s training policy is that it comes from the top. It’s difficult to make them implement a company-specific, personal needs-based training programme if they don’t want to. At companies like Triptease, DocuSign and Peak, that kind of training is an intentional policy. It’s the way they want to work.

If your company does not give you the training you need, maybe you have to go out there and get it yourself? Think about your options.

• Be honest with yourself — Where are your sales deficiencies? What could you do better? Is it down to things you don’t know, or things you can’t do. How can you get up to speed?

• Invest in yourself — Are there qualifications or certifications you could take to improve your skills? While I’ve rallied against sales books in the past, they can be helpful if you actually take action on what you’ve read.

• Find a company that will train you properly.

The training gap

Sales skills don’t always come naturally to people. Even when they do, you still have to adapt your skills to your company and your product. Training helps you bridge that gap, but if your training isn’t thorough enough, it can hold you back.

It’s difficult because your company’s training policy isn’t always up to you, but when you take matters into your own hands, you can reap the rewards. If you’re in this situation, good luck!

Over to you now. What’s the training like where you work? Which companies are investing in their people and their development? Let us know in the comments.

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