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Sales Managers: Stop Complaining About Losing Sales Training Dollars

Is sales development working for your corporation?

Every year, up to $7 billion are spent by corporations on sales training and development, and on average only 20% of the companies investing see an increase in their results. Whether it is training taught through Dale Carnegie or systems such as Spin Selling or the Sandler System, investing in training often feels like a waste of time and money, but why?

Sales training programs for sales people are designed to teach fundamentals of selling, which is an important aspect of development. They provide strategies that over a period of time should produce results. However, they are focused on the actions. For example, common sales training often includes learning the sales message, asking questions, building trust, empathizing with the pain, creating solutions, solving problems, and finally, making the sale–all which are leading a person through a process.

Sounds pretty accurate, right? So what is missing?

Throughout all my years of offering high potential development for corporations, I’ve discovered that no one is helping account executives learn who or how to be. You can easily provide an average person techniques and tools on strategies for becoming a great sales person. However, if their internal beliefs or paradigms of the world don’t fit into what they are learning, they will not adapt. Although they can be taught strategies that work, over a period of time, they fall back into the same old routines and bad habits.

Time and time again, the reason for the slide has to do with what’s happening internally.

Following are two examples of how this is impacting sales forces every day.

Example #1 Guilty by Association

For many sales professionals, they immediately feel guilty by association. From the moment they begin their role as an account executive, no matter how much training they receive, they feel guilty. Why?

Typically, when they first meet a customer, they introduce themselves as a sales representative or an account executive. Immediately after they say the words, the person with whom they are speaking tosses them into a bucket with all of the other sales people they have encountered over the years, good or bad. They are considered what I like to call “guilty by association.”

So a simple solution might be to change the title, right?

While changing their title to something like Profit Improvement Specialist or Profit Improvement Consultant does feel better, the results are not really impacted.

The title offers more value when introducing themselves, but if the rep doesn’t believe the title on the inside, they fall flat. They don’t sound or appear authentic, which is a challenge. So, they begin to deviate from the process and regress back to where they started.

Example #2 Wearing Two Hats

If there is one important message that you can take back to your sales representatives right now, it is ” You can not be one thing while trying not to be something else.”

A company recently hired me to help them with their sales people. I really wanted to take the time to understand what they were doing, so I decided to spend a day in the field with a rep. We did a typical sales call and when it was finished we discussed it in the car. I asked them what they thought happened during the call. Of course they started to give me a recap of the conversation, but this was not the information I needed. What I really wanted to know was what they were thinking or what was going on inside of their head during the call.

Instead I asked this question, “What were you afraid of in that call?” That is when progress began. They said that they were afraid of being a pushy sales person.

Here’s the deal. Your sales reps can not present themselves as a Profit Improvement Specialist or any other person who adds value to their customers if they are focused on what they don’t want to be.

What do you need to do to improve your sales team?

Current sales training program models are only about strategies. They are not addressing the importance of internal dialogue. Of course the fundamentals and techniques are important, but they are only half of the solution. The other half needs to happen internally– by helping them learn how to show up and how to master themselves as a person.

When this mastery occurs, they can lead someone through the sales process. They are able to show up positively and authentically, believing in their hearts that they have value to offer.

As a leader of a sales organization, it is your responsibility to help your sales team align their inner world with their outer world. They haven’t learned how to rewire their conscious and sub conscious so they can implement your sales strategies to produce a return on investment. Find the tools they need to increase their self worth and value so they become a dependable resource for you and your company.

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