Sales Training ? A Short Course, Part II
?I learn by going where I have to go.? ? Roethke
Sales managers and experienced producers often have training responsibilities that require them to manage this process, helping people do their best by:
? Assessing individual training needs.
? Setting training goals and making plans to meet them.
? Selecting and organizing training methods and resources.
? Prescribing field activities, coaching, critiquing, reinforcing and follow-up.
Training is not one-sided, however. A trainer?s or sales manager?s responsibility may be to make training available, but it is the sales person?s responsibility to make the most of it. The ultimate responsibility for learning is the learners, so the manager/trainer?s role will be more of a "coach" than a "doer?.
A good trainer is a leader and coach. Michael Beck of Leadership Coaching, Inc. (www.leaders-coach.com) maintains that all leadership is by example. ?The people who follow usually duplicate half of the good things their leader/coach does and twice the poor things, say Beck. ?To be dynamic, a leader must practice self-discipline, be a perpetual student, become efficient, prioritize tasks well, determine materiality, and practice delayed gratification.?
In other words, coaches usually do not get out on the field and play the game, but they must know how to help their players become winners. Sales trainers must be convincing in demonstrating successful sales techniques. This makes them responsible for being the "player-coach," that is, someone who can play a good game, not just talk about it.
Trainers Can Kill With Kindness
Watching sales being initiated, developed and closed by a player-coach helps pre-contract candidates and new producers learn how to apply the knowledge and skills they?ve learned. But the player-coach role can quickly reach a point of diminishing returns, especially for sales managers or trainers who have a stake in the outcome.
People may learn best by doing. But once producers have the knowledge and skills they need, every time you close business for them, the less they learn and the closer they get to leaning on you. Worse, every time you don?t make a sale, you lose credibility.
Many salespeople have left the business because their sales managers didn?t know when to stop making sales for them. That instinct is even stronger with pre-contract candidates, since sales managers and trainers have a stake in candidates satisfying their pre-contract requirements.
Resist the temptation.
To be an effective career test, pre-contract training must allow candidates to make it or break it on their own. Unless on joint calls with candidates to demonstrate a sales talk or give technical backup, let them take sales presentations as far as they can before stepping in.
Not to put too fine a point on it, good sales managers understand that their relationships with producers should one of coach or counselor, not true friendship. The treatment of pre-contract candidates and new producers should always be cordial and considerate. However, evaluating a person?s ability to perform to a minimum standard is part of the job, and friends should no more judge each other than they should try to change each other.
Good trainers, moreover, should have a "coaching" attitude in all their dealings with trainees; and good coaches should be caring, non-threatening, and build confidence, trust, and respect.
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About the Author: Bill Willard has been writing high-impact marketing and sales training for the financial services industry for over 30 years...but as Will Rogers put it: "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." Through interactive, Web-based "Do-While-Learning" programs, e-Newsletters and straight-talking articles, Bill helps agents and advisors get the job done: profitably improving performance, helping grow your business, skipping expensive mistakes, making the journey to success faster, smoother, easier. And fun! email@example.com