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Why Doesn't Sales Training Work As Well As It Should?

Posted by Fred at 3:54 PM on Apr 26, 2017

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When you're managing sales people, which one do you spend the most time with:

  • Someone that is trying really hard to be successful but just can't get there for some reason?
  • A rep that is functioning OK. Not a star performer, but not a bad one either.
  • Or, your star performer. Everything they touch turns to gold.

As a CEO, who do you think your sales manager should spend time and resources on?

Conventional wisdom says to "Don't fix what ain't broke." In other words, your stars are already doing well so just let them at it. Don't distract them from doing their jobs. Instead work with the sales people that are struggling. Help them improve. See what they do well, and what they do poorly. Then focus your efforts on what they do poorly. Work with them to help them improve.

WARNING!!! Don't go down this rabbit-hole! You'll find yourself in a vicious downward spiral. Spending resources on training over and over again with little, if any, results.

Why? Because each person has a unique set of talents. It's these talents that allows them to do things right. But if they don't have what it takes, they never will.

Here's an example from the animal world:

You have 2 horses. One's a Shetland Pony and the other is a Thoroughbred. Which horse would you work with if your ultimate goal to go a certain distance as quick as possible?

Of course, you'd work with the Thoroughbred. You'd train them every day. You'd encourage them.

Would you spend any time at all working the Shetland Pony? Nope. Because you know you could spend your entire life working on the pony's weakness and still never get anywhere near the level of performance you're looking for.

This is not to imply that the Thoroughbred is the better horse. Simply that she is the better horse FOR THIS PARTICULAR JOB.

Here's how it translates to sales. You're in a fast growing industry and need salespeople that are good at prospecting. Would you hire sales reps that are best suited for nurturing accounts over the long term? Of course not. And if you had nurturers in your sales force, wouldn't it make sense to replace them with salespeople that were prospectors?

Before you make a decision about whether to train or replace a poor performer, it's important to look at areas like:

  • How your sales leadership impacts the sales force,What are the capabilities of your sales force,
  • Whether you have the right systems in place to support a high growth sales environment.

And more. See below for a screenshot of a candidate report summary.

All of these factors influence performance. If the result of your analysis is that the capabilities of the sales force needs to be worked on, then you can decide to keep or let go the poor performers.

Over the years I've seen so many companies use the "conventional wisdom" approach. The result? Few resources are used for the betterment of the "star" performers. That tells the stars that you don't feel they're important. And, if your top performers don't feel they're important to you, they'll go somewhere else - your competitor. Now you've got a CEO's worst nightmare... endlessly hiring and training superstars for your competition.

So, who do you spend your training dollars on?

We can help you improve your sales force by assessing these and 17 more factors that impact your sales force's performance. Get a FREE trial or give me at call at 478-287-1571 and let's spend 10 or 15 minutes exploring whether we can help you.