Think about how most sales training works:
- You go to a classroom
- You sit in there, listen to some lecture and try some hands-on training
- You repeat the process for 2-3 days or so
- The company/trainer stays on with you to provide some on-going training (in rare cases)
The problem with this and similar approaches?
They don’t work!
And there’s all sorts of data and anecdotal evidence to prove it. This post at Forbes says “The human brain simply wasn’t designed to learn this way.”
During those events, the trainer bombards your sales reps with all sorts of selling techniques and concepts.
And think about your own experiences. Have you measured your sales performance following one of those “fire-hose” sales training sessions?
Maybe it jumps a little for a month or two because everyone’s all fired up about your new approach.
But then slowly but surely, you notice your sales team going back to exactly the same old habits.
So they got exposure to some new things, but never really “learned” anything at all!
Why Sales Coaching Works
Here’s a few reasons why it does, and what you can do to get the most out of it:
1. You Get Direct Feedback on Your Experience You Can Apply
Think of pro athletes. – they don’t spend time in the classroom learning about theories and concepts. They watch game film, go out there, and practice their skills against each other in preparation for their opponent.
With sales coaching you mimic that process. Your manager listens to several recorded sales calls and scores each one. Then, you get direct feedback on what you do well and what you can do better.
You get to actually do what you’re supposed to do in a real situation, instead of learning about it or going through a simulated situation.
2. Focus on One Thing at a Time
Remember how children in the 1800s became apprentices to master professionals to learn their trade? That’s closer to how learning really works.
It’s an ongoing process. And a one-time event does not help you learn much of anything at all! Your sales team needs to practice the skills over and over again.
But to really learn, they need to focus on just a single thing at a time. So if your employee doesn’t do too hot during the first 20 seconds of a call, work on techniques for earning attention and building connections.
If they’re not very good at closing deals, help them figure out better ways to make that happen.
3. Should You Direct or Facilitate?
The answer depends on the experience and skill of your employees. If they’re new and struggling, go with the directive route (“Do this when…”)
If they’re experienced, they probably won’t respond as well to that approach. In that situation, act more as a facilitator. Ask your employees, “What do you think you could do to get better at this?” or work together by saying, “Let’s figure out what steps to take next.”
Sales training works, but you have to go about it in the right way. Make sure you do avoid the traditional “classroom” approach – that’s just throwing money away.
In today’s business climate, recording calls, scoring them, and working one-on-one with your reps works.
Your bottom line will thank you for it.