Why Accidental Sales Training Works More Effectively

bloomieBack in the early 90’s, we had a Golden Retriever named Bloomie.  First, please read this 2006 memorial which talked a little about her role in sales calls.

I recall a particularly memorable moment when she was very young and we were still training her.  We stopped in a parking lot adjacent to a busy highway and when I opened the car door, she leaped out and ran toward the oncoming traffic.  In a panic, we began screaming:

“Stopppppp!”   Didn’t even twitch her head…

“Stayyyyy!”  Galloping now…

“Nooooo!”   Full throttle…

“Waaaait!”   She slammed on the breaks – literally skidded to a stop – and sat perfectly still until I caught up with her and grabbed the leash.

What the heck happened?

“STAY”, the command which I was teaching her, certainly didn’t work.  I hadn’t realized at the time that she was paying more attention to what I was saying and doing than what I was teaching.  When I used to take a break from training her, I would simply say, “WAIT. I just need some water.”  And so on that fateful day, the power was in her repeated observation of my saying “WAIT” and stopping our forward motion, as opposed to the word “STAY”.  The latter inferred that she was staying home and we were leaving without her.  Her interpretation of “STAY” made her want to run out the door!

What does all that have to do with sales and sales training?

Simply that regardless of who you hire to conduct your sales training, your salespeople will be told what they need to do.  Really great sales trainers will take it a step further and demonstrate how to do it effectively through powerful, paradigm-changing role-plays.  Your salespeople may be trained as often as weekly, bi-weekly or monthly (don’t waste your money on quarterly or annually.)  Meanwhile, those same salespeople will be exposed to you or a sales manager every single day.  Will your salespeople do what they hear once or twice a month or will they emulate what the sales manager suggests through daily sales coaching?

Obviously, if the coaching is consistent with the training AND the sales manager sells the same way, you won’t have an issue.  However, if the sales manager sells differently from the process or methodology being taught OR provides coaching that is inconsistent with the training, the salespeople are liable to abandon the new training concepts in favor of the sales manager’s approach.  That’s why we require sales managers to get a significant head start prior to allowing their salespeople to begin the training.

Stay = Keep doing what you’re doing if it’s delivering incredible results.

Wait = Hold on.  We could be much more effective.  Let’s get some help and figure out what we need to do differently.