It’s an issue that keeps many sales leaders awake at night.  

Let’s face it, often the money you spend on training doesn’t translate into results.  This is a particular problem given the urgency many businesses have around seeing a return on an investment.

Here’s the issue: you know that something needs to be done to improve the effectiveness of your sales team, because you want them to produce more sales without having to spend every waking moment micro managing them.

You are faced with two main issues when improving the skills of your team: unconscious incompetence (new people) and professional amnesia (experienced staff locked into forgetting and rediscovering loops).  I’d assert both scenarios require the same fundamental fix, which we’ll come onto, but they have different root causes which require examination.

Unconscious incompetence sounds harsh, as it’s a polite way of saying ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’, but it’s a state everybody finds themselves in when they are new to a situation, or in this instance a profession. However, in many ways this issue is the easiest to deal with from a training perspective.

The ‘competency model’ is a concept that describes the stages we all go through to master anything. You can see that the first steps are all about education and practice. The great thing about newbies is they are often very open to instruction, as they don’t have prior baggage, and don’t suffer from professional amnesia (yet!).

Now this highlights the first essential ingredient in becoming skilled at anything.

You must find and implement expert instruction.  

If you delve into the subject of mastery, you’ll find that the quickest way to master anything is to be mentored by a master.  If you receive mediocre instruction, the best you can ever hope for is to be mediocre yourself. Why do you think so many elite sports people are the sons and daughters of elite sportspeople?  There are genetics involved for sure, but to reach the highest levels in professional sport it’s a massive advantage be mentored from childhood, by someone who has reached the highest heights and is also heavily invested in your success.

This reveals the first answer to ‘why doesn’t sales training always work?’.

The training and mentorship you receive isn’t delivered by a master of the subject.  

The key to getting this bit of your professional development right is that you must choose a training provider that uses masters of the subject matter, capable of modelling best practice and mentoring for excellence.

It’s also the main reason in house training doesn’t always work. We will deal with this subject fully in the next article but passing on lethal mutation of subject matter due to ingrained professional amnesia is horrifyingly common.

If you pop sales training into google (UK search), there’s probably one company that pops up straight away, because they have a huge pay per click budget and a team ensuring the maximum SEO optimisation to get them to the top of page one of a search (We now use Racer marketing for SEO, as they are expert at this).  

However, one of the disadvantages of being big is the diseconomies of scale that result from success. Any business owner will tell you that scalability is one of the first goals of the serious entrepreneur. What this basically means is, as the business owner you want someone else delivering your service as quickly as possible, to free you up to reap the profits without having to do the work…

Why is this a problem when it comes to sales training?

As soon as the company gets too big, the person delivering the training is no longer the expert, quite often it’s someone with less than five years’ experience. Or you only get access to recorded on-line content, which falls short of the mentorship we discussed.

Think of it this way, who would you rather teach you chess?  A champion with 20 years’ experience fresh from a tournament; a guy who was once an expert but now does mostly property investment or someone of limited experience delivering someone else’s material?

Here at 360°, you only ever get experts fresh from battle, delivering instructional coaching, based on best practice that is regularly appraised by fellow experts to avoid the dreaded lethal mutation we will discuss in the next article.

In the meantime, if you want sales training that works, get in touch.