Trade Show Shoes. You know the type; feel like slippers, look like work shoes.
You recommend them to your team. If you all complete a trade show with no blisters, it’s a good result, you’re happy with your investment. The team may be tired and have chronic back pain, but it’s a trade show, and they’re not magic shoes, right? The shoes go back on the shelf until they’re needed again.
The problem is that this year is packed with trade-shows. How effective will the shoes be month in, month out as bad posture and bad habits kick-in?
It’s the same with sales training. The logic of giving your team sales training is a bit like good footwear, it needs no justification. But month in, month out, when your looking to improve sales performance sales training, just like good shoes, can only do so much.
The phsyio approach
What if a physiotherapist, heard your trade show dilemma? They promise they can ensure your team will be as healthy at the end of a year of trade shows as you were before.
They prescribe exercises to improve glute and lower back strength; share discreet stretching exercises to release muscle tension on the stand, and recommend regular breaks. They recommend shoes that are both comfortable and individually tailored to correct posture, distribute weight and reduce back pain.
I can hear your screams already! A casual recommendation to buy better shoes is quicker, easier, and comes with a lot less responsibility. Plus, it’s a ‘good enough’. Whether its effective long term at helping your team sustain a year of trade shows isn’t something you’ve got time to tackle right now.
No effort solutions
It’s the same with sales training. A sales leader identifies a problem in their team’s performance; they need sales training on better closing strategies, or sales training on qualifying prospects. L&D agrees to source the solution. The training is purchased, it delivers some temporary relief, everybody is happy. The result is ‘good enough’. But, for any business looking for long-term and sustainable sales performance improvements, the physiotherapist’s approach clearly delivers a better result. So, before you jump into your next round of sales training, here’s how to distinguish between a comfortable fix, and something that will deliver a sustained sales improvement:
If you think you’ve identified a solution to tackle your sales performance issue, check yourself. Are you guilty of recommending trade show shoes i.e., addressing the symptoms not the source of your sales challenges? Use an expert to help you decide. Strategy to Revenue, and others like us, offer free consultations to help you pinpoint your sales performance challenges. An outside perspective can often shed light on detail you’ve missed. Use them as a sounding board. You don’t have to use them to deliver a final solution, but be prepared to do a lot of heavy lifting if you do decide to go it alone.
One client thought their team needed sales training on closing strategies. In fact, they needed help overcoming the internal red-tape preventing them closing deals. Speak to your sales team. For more candid feedback, get a third party to do it on your behalf. Their insights can save you thousands of dollars in unnecessary training and help you focus efforts and budget where it will make most impact. Talk broadly about what helps and hinders them in their job. Cover the sales process, their own sales approach and any sales technology you use. Once you’ve identified problems or bottlenecks in each of these areas, your external expert will help build a plan to tackle them.
Build a competency model
Focussing specifically on people, which is what training does, detail the businesses overall strategy and then break-down the sales strategy to support that. Break it down further, what do you need each member of the sales team to do to achieve that strategy? This is much more than a job description. What is the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to successfully fulfil each role within your sales team? What level of competency do you need each role to achieve?
Asses your team
An online assessment software is the quickest and most cost-efficient way to assess how close your team is to your ideal match. Pick ones that allows you to load in your own competencies. Make sure it uses randomized behavioural statements rather than scores which are too easy to ‘cheat’. Seek input from individuals and their managers and then use the results to agree a score for each area of competency that ties to an individual’s role.
Analyze and act
Analyze the results and then – and only then – consider how to spend your training budget. Where are the biggest gaps in competency? What is the best way to tackle them? If training seems to be the solution (and again, your outside experts should guide you here) think about what reinforcement tactics you will put in place to make the training stick. How will you build your sales team’s muscle memory? How will you help ensure they exercise it and that the training delivers more than ‘comfy shoe’ solution?
In short, think about the physio’s approach. Consider your sales challenges holistically. Look at pain points and bottle necks and build a solution to tackle them long term. Know that investing in the ‘good enough’ is only delaying the inevitable and remember training/comfy shoes are often part of the solution. They’re rarely the long-term answer on their own.
Jason Watson is the Head of Sales Enablement Practice and Applications, at Strategy to Revenue, the award-winning Sales Enablement consultancy.
To understand how you can improve your sales performance, speak to one of our team.