While working for seven different companies, 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.
3. Too Product Focused
This next gap refers more to internal sales training programs than the programs where a third-party comes in to train sales resources and this is that programs can be too focused on the details of the product being sold.
The issue with this is that when you are prospecting and trying to generate leads, you are usually not in a place where it is good to talk too much about the product as you are initially just trying to get your foot in the door and establish a conversation. Not only do you not really have time to get into all of those details that you have been trained on, it is also not real effective to talk primarily about your product at the beginning of the sales cycle.
My career was spent selling technology products and services and just about every company that I worked for was guilty of this. They would put you in a room and go through all of the details on how the software worked and what it did. Really cool stuff quite frankly and this type of training actually motivated as you wanted to go out and sell all of this new technology you have been trained on.
For example, my company would train me on all of the features and functionality of a new executive dashboard software product that was introduced and then they would say to go contact C-level executives to sell the dashboard. But it does not make sense to reach out to an executive and start out by talking about the new dashboard that you now have to offer.
What the training needs to focus on is how the dashboard helps from a business standpoint and once you understand that, you can reach out the executive to have a business conversation and this can lead to you showing them your new dashboard at some point. When you focus your sales training only on product details, you do not teach the sales resource how to do this and give them the knowledge they need for this first step.
4. Does Not Teach You What to Say
I feel that you can just about put most sales training programs in this gap category and that is that they do not teach you what to say and ask when you are prospecting. You leave a training program and go back to your desk and look at your phone and have no new knowledge about what you should say and ask when you pick up the phone to call a prospect.
You may have some new knowledge about your products; you may have new knowledge around a process to take the prospect through once you are engaged; but you really do not know what to say and ask in order to get things going.
A good example of this is going through a sales training program that teaches you how important it is to look for prospect problems instead of talking about your products. Great advice and the correct way to go. But once you leave the training, you might not know how to get a conversation going with a prospect to figure out if they have any problems that exist. You might not know what to say and ask.
The training taught you to find problems. But it did not teach you what to say and ask to find problems.
For each feature or product, there is some sort of value offered. For each area of value offered, there is a problem resolved. For each problem that you can resolve, there is a question that you should ask to identify it the problem exists or is a concern.
5. Too Focused on Dealing with Current Prospects
There are many sales training programs that teach you great processes that include steps and stages to take a prospect through. How to qualify them. How to negotiate. How to close the deal. All good stuff. But the thing missing here is, how to get engaged with the prospect in the first place.
While these methodologies are usually really good stuff and extremely important, they do not really help the sales person in the area where they need help the most which is getting engaged with a new prospect.
It is sort of like teaching someone how to best handle a romantic relationship. Very important but the majority of single people need help with simply meeting new people and getting the date. This is the same for sales people as the main reason that many are not successful is that they have trouble getting engaged with new prospects and generating leads.