During my sales career, I had the experience of going through many different sales training programs. There were training programs I had to go through as a new hire and then also many recurring and annual training programs.
Based on my experience, I believe there are 5 significant gaps in the training that most companies provide to their sales people.
1. Too Much Fluff
A lot of the sales training that is provided by external training companies and motivational speakers can be classified in the category as “Too Much Fluff” in my opinion. Great stuff, and yes always very motivational, but there are programs and speeches that lack real substance in terms of telling you what to do to be a better sales person.
An example of this is where you might sit through a workshop or presentation where someone is up talking very eloquently about stuff that you can easily find relevant and interesting. Topics that remind how you can do better, why you need to do better, what will happen if you do better.
You feel really good right after the training and look forward to doing better. But when you get back to your desk, you really do not have new knowledge that tells you what you need to do be better.
2. Too Complex
On the other extreme side of that gap is the gap of sales training programs being too complex. This is where the training program has a lot of really great content and substance, but it is almost too much and too complex to actually implement.
The issue with this is that sales people can often be creatures of habit and also sometimes have a little ADD (attention deficit disorder). Not really that they have ADD, but more so that they want to be out selling and do not want to take their attention away from that. With these two factors, a complex methodology is less likely to be fully adopted and embraced by a sales force.
One example that I can think of with this is an external training program that I went through when taking on a new software sales role. The content the sales training company provide was really great stuff, but it was too complex and cumbersome to really adopt and incorporate.
In this program, the company taught you to fill out two different forms (sheets) when prospecting. There was one form that you should fill out for the target area that you are selling to and then the second form is to be filled out for each company that you are trying to sell to.
Each form had some really great thought provoking questions. The answers to the questions would definitely position you better when prospecting. But these forms were such a distraction and time consuming to fill out.
In a perfect world, a sales person would fill out the forms and then sell after that step and they would be the best sales person they can be. In the real world, a sales person will see that as cumbersome task that is getting in the way of selling.
The only time I ever filled out the forms was in the workshop where the training company taught me how to fill them out. I never looked at them again and I am one to geeks out a little more around tools like this, so if I didn’t use them, I am sure that nobody in the class used them much.
The company paid thousands of dollars for me and my peers to attend this sales training program and I am pretty sure we went back to our old ways right after the sales training program.