Dave Kurlan is a top-rated keynote speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and expert on all things sales and selling.

It doesn’t matter who the sales trainer is.

It doesn’t matter what the content is.

It doesn’t matter what the subject is, but let’s choose making cold calls for appointments.

It doesn’t matter which sales process is being introduced, but let’s assume it’s a simple one.

It doesn’t matter which sales methodology is being taught, but let’s assume it’s a good one.

It does’t matter how long the training program lasted, but let’s assume it’s a full day.

Belief – Most believe that after a day of comprehensive training, salespeople will have the understanding, tools and experience to get on the phone, go out in the field, use what they learned and be effective.

Reality – After a day of training, salespeople still have the old, worn-out, ineffective approach down cold.  It’s muscle memory.  The new approach (even if they took notes and practiced it during training, even if the approach is highly effective, time-tested and proven) is as strange to them as the thought of eating monkey brains for dinner.  They’re still using a modified version of their old approach rather than a modified version of the new approach.  They are definitely not using the new approach as taught.

Most people don’t understand that effective sales training isn’t about what is being taught.  Most sales trainers don’t even understand what they must do to achieve results.  Before your salespeople will make wholesale changes, several things must occur.

The first group of events are salesperson-facing and related to the sales force evaluation:

  1. They must have their sales assessment results to fully understand the skill gaps need to be filled, the sales weaknesses they have, and how those issues are affecting their sales calls.
  2. They must know how much better they can become, how much more revenue they can generate and how much more money they can earn by making the necessary changes.
  3. They must be trainable (incentive to change) and coachable (not resistant to change).
The fourth event rarely occurs unless your sales trainer knows how to accomplish it:

4.  Your salespeople must be change-ready, so they don’t waste training time by resisting.

The fifth event is based on the expertise of the training and development consultant:

5.  A customized, formal, structured and optimized sales process must be designed, introduced and demonstrated, and buy-in must be acheived.

The sixth group of events is dependent on the effectiveness of the trainer:

6.  The sales methodology must be introduced, demonstrated, discussed and role-played.  Most sales trainers are capable of introducing and discussing, but not demonstrating and role-playing to the degree that your salespeople see the power of the approach.  An exercise, to help the salespeople apply what was learned, must be assigned.

7.  There must be follow-up training within 2 weeks, during which time the approach must be demonstrated and role-played again because nobody is applying exactly what was first taught.  The reason for the lack of execution is that your salespeople have weaknesses which, until eliminated, interfere with execution.  Take Need for Approval for example.  That single weakness, which affects more than half of all salespeople, prevents them from saying, asking and doing what they learned whenever they believe that their prospect will no longer like them, approve of them, find them credible, smart or helpful.  They can’t push back, challenge or ask good, tough, timely questions due to a fear of being disrespected.  This problem can continue to interfere for weeks and months, and until it’s eliminated, prevent execution of the skills being taught.  Most sales trainers are completely blind to this problem and don’t know how to fix it.  In most cases, this is why the majority of sales training programs fail to help most companies.

The next event is dependent on sales management effectiveness.  Sales managers should have been trained prior to training the salespeople!

8.  Salespeople must be coached by their sales managers each day, observed to make sure they are doing what was being taught, and held accountable for making appropriate changes.

9.  Review and repeat.

10.  Continue twice monthly for 8-12 months, while introducing new content and material each time.

How does this compare with your experience?

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