Don’t Be Afraid to Train

Some sales managers are afraid to train! That’s right. They don’t want to train because they either feel it might be an admission that the people they hired aren’t up to snuff, or they’re concerned about what upper management might say if they ask for training dollars.

Two Key Facts
Here are a couple of relevant facts for you.

  1. Most sales managers hire the best people they can find.
  2. Most salespeople have never had any formal sales training.

So, even though you’re hiring the best people you can find, that doesn’t mean you’re hiring people who are the best they can be. Think about that one for a moment.

Sure you’re hiring good people, but if those people can be made even better by providing them with training, why wouldn’t you make the investment?

The fact that most salespeople have never taken any formal sales training shouldn’t surprise us. After all, most people fall into sales by accident. Because they like talking to people, they feel they have a natural ability to sell. Don’t I wish!

The problem is often exacerbated by the fact that senior management"”those exalted people above the sales manager"”have often never sold anything in their lives, apart from themselves, and they see sales as being easy and therefore not requiring any training. These people need to be educated.

Also compounding the problem is that these senior management people seem to feel that the sales manager should be a sales trainer in addition to all his or her other responsibilities. This is not a good idea. Being a good sales manager doesn’t necessarily make you a good sales trainer, just like being a good salesperson doesn’t necessarily make you a good sales manager. There is a different skill set required for each of these three functions.

Train? Maybe. Coach? Definitely!
If a sales manager happens to have the ability to train, so much the better, but the sales manager should definitely be a coach.

But how do you coach someone who doesn’t have the basic knowledge and skill to play the game? With difficulty, that’s how.

So while your people may have an innate, somewhat natural ability to sell, imagine how much more effective they might be if they actually knew what they were doing and had better ways of doing it. That’s where training comes in.

Three Main Benefits
Apart from the possibility of increasing sales, training has three major benefits in general.

  1. It provides those who have no formal training with knowledge of their craft.
  2. It provides those people who have had some training over the years with a refresher and, believe me, most of us could use the occasional refresher.
  3. Training can be an excellent teambuilding and morale-boosting event.

There is a fourth reason "” staff retention. Surprised? Read on.

Goodbye, So Long, See Ya
There is another reason why sales managers are afraid to train. They’re afraid to invest in training only to have their salespeople leave and go to a competitor. This can and does happen but it doesn’t mean it has to happen to you.

First off, companies who train are fast becoming employers of choice. Secondly, training builds strong teams and people don’t let their teammates down by jumping ship at a moment’s notice. Of course, some will leave but they won’t make the change without giving it a lot of thought.

The people you have to worry about are the ones who feel they have nothing to lose by making the change. Make sure your people feel they have more to lose by leaving. Training can give them a strong reason to stay.

Training as a Tool
It’s entirely possible that training isn’t the tool you need just now, and I’m not suggesting you should train. I’m simply saying that training is another tool in your toolbox and, like any other tool in your toolbox, if you don’t take it out from time to time and use it, you’ll forget about it. Don’t be afraid to use training as a tool.

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