When it comes to sales training, we’re missing the boat. North American companies are spending billions of dollars on the latest sales training process but are still unsatisfied with the long-term results. While sales performance may improve in the short term, multi-year studies have shown that sales performance actually continues to decline well after the training is over.
A recent study by Sales Performance International shows that most sales training has been discarded by the fifth week following completion of the course. By 90-days, 84% of what was learned is lost. What are we doing wrong?
1. Sales Training is Too Activity-Focused
It’s true – you really can lead a horse to water…but you can’t make them drink. Successful selling is part activity and part psychology. You cannot win without learning skills in both categories. But sales training is almost always singularly activity-focused, teaching better product knowledge or prospecting skills, but completely neglectingwhat lies beneath the surface of what truly motivates an increase in sales activity.
The same holds true for most sales managers. They often are recruited up through the rank of sales teams, and while they may be great at selling, they often lack the skills to manage a team. They often learn while on the job and rely heavily on “old school” methods of carrot and stick. They fail to create an environment of continuous learning and coaching for their sales team. Many times they simply do not have time because they are constantly under pressure to make the numbers.
But the truth is that a sales team is made up of individuals; you cannot and should not manage them in all the same ways. Traditional sales management training fails to acknowledge this and does not take into account. Many stock sales training methods do not translate to this real world environment and completely fail to teach how to mentor a sales team in order to influence the underlying attitudes that so strongly affect their performance.
A good sales training should teach a sales leader to focus on:
- Results and how they are affected by sales person’s behavior.
- Behavior including activities follow-up strategy, communication, etc.
- Skills and how to close deals, including selling techniques, how to communicate value, unique selling proposition, target market approach, product knowledge – to name a few categories.
- Hidden beliefs, values and state of mind that delves into the core of whether a sales rep has faith in their own abilities, what they value and what is important to them.
- Self-image, identity, and mission that lie just under the surface of the individual but so strongly affect your company’s bottom line.
Making small incremental changes underneath the surface (points 4 and 5) can have big, positive outcomes above the water line.
Remember also this: these same underlying motivations are just as important to understand in potential clients as it is in the sales team.
When was the last time your high-priced sales training touched on all of these areas?
2. Sales Training is Not Personalized
One size does not fit all. The sales techniques that work in your industry may not translate to another field. Traditional sales training rarely adapts cookie cutter curriculum to the core competencies that are crucial to your business. These groups of skills can vary by industry, affecting prospect targeting, prospect marketing and even how the deal should be closed.
The art of selling has been honed for centuries and many times the sales training you’re paying for was initially created years ago. You may find it is not keeping pace with the latest consumer trends. That failure to keep up with the market will ultimately inhibit the success of the training. Unfortunately, many sales leaders discover this after the training is already complete.
But standard sales training models are not personalized in another way; it doesn’t take into account the individual internal belief patterns that serve as the motivators behind the activities of a sales executive. Our state of mind and personal values strongly affects our code of conduct and work ethic.
Yet traditional sales training completely avoids these important behavioral factors and instead focuses on external activity alone.
Developing skills is important. But the sales training won’t stick if you don’t work on the underlying belief systems that drive the implementation of these skills.
3. Sales Training Doesn’t Ask the Right Questions
Many people end up in sales by accident. Asking your sales team what led them to sales in the first place, might help you uncover some interesting correlations between their external behavior and internal motivations.
The truth is that many of your sales executives probably have spent their entire career with an underlying belief that any success they have is attributable to luck. Imagine the energy it takes to make a cold call when you ultimately don’t believe in your own success!
If a salesperson’s own personal belief structure tells them that they lack the skills to succeed, then every win will be accredited to luck or great timing, and every loss will confirm their negative state of mind.
The majority of sales leaders never take the time to explore the underlying assumptions going on in the psyche of their individual sales reps. Traditional sales training rarely touches on the internal system of beliefs (and stories they say to themselves) that make up the personality of a sales rep.
Many companies are buying sales training and their bottom-line results don’t change. Standard sales training focuses on developing skills. That’s because sales training isn’t asking the right questions to uncover and change underlying factors such as state-of-mind, work ethic, values, self-image and even their purpose within the company.
And Now Something Different – The Iceberg Sales Model
Our approach is different. We understand that a sales executive and their potential client are similar to an iceberg. Above the water, you’ll find the immediacy of behaviors and activities – the things you can easily see. The Iceberg Sales Model teaches performance and behavioral techniques to improve sales prospecting and overcome client objections. But the training goes much deeper below the surface to explore the values, belief systems and self-image of the sales rep and their client and the tricky currents that influence this delicate relationship of seller and sold. Then it teaches sales leaders the skills they need to motivate the continued success of their team via a coaching methodology that ensures success in the long-term.
Forget traditional sales training. Their “results” aren’t sustainable in the long-term. Delving into the underlying reasons for why we do things is the first step toward making permanent behavioral changes in individuals.
Making small incremental changes underneath the surface can have big, positive outcomes above the water line.
If you’ve tried other sales training and they’ve failed, the Iceberg Sales Model may be exactly what you need. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation that could have an immediate impact on your bottom line.