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I’ve already trained my salespeople – more than once

by Liz Haywood

– why are we still not seeing Key Opportunities early enough to engage meaningfully with Decision-makers before a tender comes out?

Well, you mightn’t like the answer, but here’s the truth: not everyone in a sales team should be trained.

There is nothing wrong with sales training: it contains up-to-date processes, real-life examples and opportunities for salespeople to practice. It’s simple to organise and usually cost-effective.

But there are two big problems with training

Every salesperson has a different mix of willingness and capability for each element of the job of being a salesperson.

Willingness is about whether someone is excited about What’s In It For Me (WIIFM).

Capability is whether someone is aware of what they DON’T know.

Sales training assumes salespeople are both willing and capable. That is a huge assumption to make.

So, what’s the alternative?

First, some salespeople – particularly those who are Activist or Pragmatist types – will improve much quicker through on-the-job coaching. This involves observations of specific skills in real client meetings, and then debriefs and individual skills development.

Second, it’s becoming more common to use profiling tools and infield observations of sales visits to assess the likelihood of a salesperson improving their performance on-the-job.

Profiling tools provide the quantitative data.

How does profiling work?

After a salesperson has completed their online profile, a debriefing session is held. No profiling tool is 100% accurate and you need to know which elements of their capabilities they know they need to improve (these should be worked on first) and which they don’t (highlight them so they can see the WIIFM).

Infield observations of sales visits provide the qualitative data.

Together, both of these provide the complete picture of a salesperson’s willingness and capability to improve their sales performance.

Once these are both completed, it becomes obvious whether an individual should be trained, coached or take advantage of changing roles, within the organisation or outside the organisation.

Maybe it’s time to stop rehashing the sales manuals or running the sales training treadmill and look at improving your salespeople in a different way?

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