Greg and the two newly hired salespeople were sitting in the back booth of the restaurant eating dinner. This was the second night away while attending the sales training session. The first night at dinner, after listening to Robbie and Scott go on and on about the training, Greg wondered if there was anything he could do to save them from wasting their time. Now, after talking to them, he was seeing some success.
“So what you are telling us,” said Scott, “ is that two years ago you heard the same thing from another trainer?”
“You got it . . . almost word for word with the trainer this morning. It all sounds good, using that wording as an opening line with a prospect, but it doesn’t work,” responded Greg, popping a french fry into his mouth.
“Why is the company having us come to these training sessions if it doesn’t work?” asked Robbie. “Why not just keep a list of what doesn’t work, see what the training is going to be, and if it’s the same, not bother?”
“Well,” said Greg while catching the attention of the waiter for another drink, “this training stuff goes in cycles. About every two or three years, the same things get dusted off, called something new and catchy, new brochures are printed and we get to eat decent food at company expense.”
“It’s hard to believe . . .” responded Scott.
“Look,” said Greg, “we’ll go back to the office, and everyone will be encouraged to try the ‘new way’ and before you know it, we’ll be back to the usual. Everything I’ve heard these last two days, I’ve heard before. Like I told you last night, I’ve been in sales now for 10 years. After three years, maybe four if you last that long, you’ll either get your own technique down or you get out of sales.”
“So you’ve tried all the things we’ve heard about the last two days?” asked Scott.
“Basically I’ve tried all of them at least once. Ninety-nine percent of them sound good in a training session but don’t make it out there in the real world of sales. Ask anyone who’s been in sales for longer than five years; all of this stuff comes up just like worms after a rain.”
“Could we,” Robbie asked, looking at Scott, “look to you to suggest what works?”
“Sure,” said Greg, “no problem, none at all. None of what you get in these sessions is new. What’s new are the words they wrap the package in.”
Greg will show Robbie and Scott how to be a “successful salesperson,” just like himself.
Greg really believes that he is doing Robbie and Scott a big favor by setting them straight when it comes to sales training. In one way, he is perfectly correct about the information conveyed during sales training sessions, regardless of when it is conveyed.
Rarely is the information new. In most instances, what is new is how the old information is presented.
So why do companies still send salespeople to sales training sessions? There is always the hope that something someone says at the session will do something to increase sales. Sometimes sales do increase. Unfortunately, it is usually a temporary rise that then sinks back down to where it was before.
Why doesn’t the training result produce consistent results?
As Greg said, he’s tried all of them “at least once.” When one of the training “things” didn’t work, it was discarded as something that sounded good, but didn’t make it. Please note the phrase “at least once.”
It is a rare salesperson that will try the same thing a series of times, especially if the thing doesn’t initially produce results. If the thing requires the salesperson to alter his style, it is even more difficult to do once, let alone a number of times.
Sales training, regardless of who does it, or when during a salesperson’s career it is received, always requires that the salesperson do something different. It is a rare salesperson that will consistently try something different. But then again, it is a rare salesperson that always is at the top of his profession.
The following are the four steps that assist a salesperson in adopting new behavior.
First, what goal does the new behavior help achieve? If you have no goal for the behavior, don’t bother with step two, three, or four.
Second, when will the new behavior be done?
Third, commit to doing the new behavior for a month.
Fourth, evaluate the results weekly.
After a month of doing this, you will truly know if the new behavior is productive.
Rarely does anything work out the first time, especially when you are dealing with yourself. However, the only thing you can change is yourself.