I’ve been participating in group sales trainings since the early 1990’s. Sometimes as the trainer (more recently), but also from the receiving side of the equation.

You know what I noticed?

In almost every group training, a big percentage of the people in the training – let’s say 50-60% – seem happy to not have to be selling that day, and don’t really give a hoot about what is happening in the training.

A smaller group – maybe 15-30% thinks they know everything they need to know, and don’t really give a hoot about the training.

The rest are the ones who try to learn something…

..the ones who are trying to use the opportunity to get better, because that’s where they are, and why not work on self-improvement when you have the chance.

…but this self-motivated, responsible and opportunistic group is almost always the minority.

Some trainers will tell you that they always get everyone engaged and everyone learns a ton of stuff. I haven’t seen this happen too often.

That’s nothing against the trainer, but you can’t always control who is in the room, and in most cases, a lot of them probably shouldn’t be there – for one reason or another.

 

SHOULD EVERYONE BE IN THE ROOM?

So maybe that’s it. Maybe the reason that many people say that sales training doesn’t work is because the wrong people are in the room?

If so, how can we change that?

What if sales training was reserved for that smaller group who actually wants to try to learn?

After 25 years in sales and a big chunk of that as a sales trainer, coach, and consultant, I’m going to try something new.

I’m going to see if I can make that work.

 

SHOW ME THAT YOU WANT TO BE HERE

I have used a technique in sales and negotiation that seems to apply here.

In both sales and negotiation, I often try to test the strength of the relationship or the deal early in the process by asking the other party to do something before our next meeting or conversation. Maybe get some information, or send me something they have back at the office or that they need to prepare.

Not a big thing, but something.

If it doesn’t happen, it’s a signal.

So maybe the way to fix sales training is to qualify the students to see if they are willing to give it a go or not.

So here’s what I’m going to try.

I work mostly as a 1:1 coach now, so in my case, I’m going to give some homework at the start of every coaching relationship, and if it isn’t done, we just won’t continue.

Why should either of us bother? Right?

Maybe you tell me you want to do some coaching – let’s see if it’s a good fit before we get too far, just like qualifying a sale.

– Maybe you’ll realize that you hate my style – and I’m not offering what you need – let’s find that out early.

– Or maybe you are too busy to be coached – let’s find that out early.

– Or maybe you are just not interested in learning – let’s find that out early…

…and not waste anyone’s time or money.

But what if you do want to learn?

And what if you do like my approach?

Let’s find that out by having you read or watch something and do some exercises before our first/next session.

The thing you look at will set up the coaching and get us off to a fast start.

So that we know we are on the same page, that we both want to be here, and we know where to start and where we want to go before we even begin.

I’m going to give that a try:

– With individual salespeople who are motivated enough to invest in their own training

– With managers who want to lead their teams and want to find the best way to do so

– With company leaders who want to optimize their sales machine from the ground up

– With entrepreneurs who have too much to do to waste time floundering about ineffectively with their sales efforts

What do you think? Should sales training and coaching be an open exercise for everyone or should it be merit-based – only available for those who demonstrate that they actually want to do the work it takes to succeed?

Maybe we’ve been going about this the wrong way.

I’m going to do an experiment to see.

Are you one of those small percentage who is willing to do the work to get better at sales – for you or your team or your company?

If so, drop me a note if you think this approach might make sense for you and let’s find out together.