By Bill Reilly, Senior Business Architect
One of our executives recently had the opportunity to sit through a series of sales presentations from a variety of vendors over the course of 4 days. He indicated that it was an eye-opening experience being the customer and observing the skill level of the sellers. Each of the vendors had some serious flaws and the general sentiment was that “it is really rare to see good sales skills.”
As a former sales trainer, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of organizations that attempted to implement some type of sales training to enhance the basic sales skills that were lacking in the above comments, only to fall short of expectations. Let’s explore a few reasons why:
Many organizations attempt to implement sales training and assume it will fix many of the sales force issues. A large number of executives believe that if you implement sales training, you will in turn improve performance and see an increase in results. They say, “Now that we have conducted sales training, we should see improvement in our numbers.” Implementing sales training in a vacuum will never achieve the desired success unless it is connected to a sales process and broader sales strategy.
Sales training is a one-time occurrence
If the organization lacks discipline in execution and currently has no formal process, “sheep dipping” sales professionals with sales training for a few days in a classroom environment with no reinforcement will have little or no impact long term. Implementing sales skills development requires a commitment of time and resources and must be done consistently.
Failing to gain buy in from key stakeholders
The sales force relies heavily on the experience and capabilities of sales leadership and if they are not bought into the content, you will see less than stellar results. Sales leaders are the driving force behind any successful implementation that affects their sales teams. They play a key role in laying the foundation for sales force development and must be engaged early and often.
Lack of systems and tools
Ideally, sales training should complement the current sales process used by the organization. Integrating the sales training into the tools that support the sales team will help them sell more efficiently and effectively. Ideally, a CRM solution that aligns to the sales process with a single view of the customer will provide sales leaders the tools to coach the sale teams and take the guesswork out of selling. A disciplined approach combined with a common set of tools should drive accountability and execution.
Not considering Change Management
This to me is a critical component and one that many organizations don’t even factor in to the success criteria. Sales Training is designed to drive a shift from “Current State” to “Desired Future State” and requires the correct organizational structures to be in place to ensure that change is accepted. Executives and sales leadership must be well prepared to initiate and lead their teams through the organizational change. They must become the facilitators of change and provide the leadership necessary to support the change in order to be successful.In conclusion, sales training should always be considered as part of the broader organizations sales strategy and should never be a one-time event. It must be repeatable and become part of the organizations DNA. Sales training should always support the organizations sales process and reinforce the desired selling behaviors. Sales leaders must be engaged early and often in the process and should be called upon to be the champions of change and to ensure accountability. Only then will you improve sales performance and see an increase in sales revenue.
Bill Reilly is a Sales Operations and Sales Process expert with 12 years of experience integrating Sales Process and Salesforce Automation systems for global and enterprise companies. As a member of Appirio’s CRM Strategy Team, Bill focuses on helping customers transform their business and build Sales Processes that ensure Sales Cloud success.