“In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”
That’s from the famed philosopher, Bertrand Russell.
This applies in spades to sales.
We are stuck on paradigms of how we sell, how we train and develop sellers and how we manage and measure performance that aren’t serving the needs of your sellers (or your buyers.)
Sales training is one prime example.
Multiple data points show declining B2B sales performance across the board and, yet, with few exceptions, we’re still fundamentally training sellers the same way we have for decades.
We need to hang a question mark on that.
The problem is not the content or the trainers. It’s how sales leaders approach the critical task of developing the skills, acumen and overall competence of their sellers.
Let’s start with the fact that too many sales leaders look at training as an obligation to fulfill instead of a recognizing the clear competitive advantage to developing a continuously educated sales force.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a trainer to come in from time to time and present to your sales team. The paradigm breaks when you start to believe that that is sufficient or adequate.
David Epstein, in his excellent book, Range, cites ample research that show the processes that we use to educate and train workers aren’t effective. That they don’t contribute to the effective acquisition or retention of new information that can be applied in practice.
For me, the biggest problem I have with the prevailing sales training paradigm is that it treats training as an event that is distinct from the job of selling.
The more effective approach is to prioritize sales education and integrate continuous active sales learning into every work day. The technology and the content to support his already exist.
Set aside just 15 minutes a day for active learning. By that I mean, the entire sales team stops whatever they’re doing and engages in active learning. That could be reading a sales book, taking an online course, watching a skills video and discussing it as a group.
I’m always amused at the self-defeating behavior of sales leaders who claim that they can’t spare 15 minutes per day to develop their behavior and skills of their sellers. 15 minutes is just 3% of a standard 8-hour work day.
You can’t invest 3% to make the other 97% more productive?