When you think about upskilling your sales team, what’s the first solution that springs to mind? It’s probably sales training, right? Investing in training has become somewhat of an automatic reflex for sales managers looking to improve the performance of their team.
Sales training courses are widely available and often appear to be an affordable fast-track to success – on the surface at least.
So what is the key to successfully upskilling your sales team? If it’s not training, what could it possibly be?
The answer might surprise you. The key lies in conducting a comprehensive pre-training evaluation. In other words, asking some tough questions of yourself and your team. Putting your sales processes under the microscope and leaving no stone unturned. The goal is to uncover your team’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can identify exactly which areas you’re excelling at, and which areas need to be improved.
Why pre-training evaluations matter
If you want to take your sales performance to the next level, you have to be prepared to identify what is slowing you down – even if this means shining a light on some uncomfortable realities. For example, an evaluation might uncover that some of your staff are untrainable. Research shows that approximately 30 per cent of salespeople cannot be coached – they simply do not have the natural talent required to make a successful career in sales.
Conducting an evaluation isn’t easy, but it can be extremely rewarding in the long term. This is because it forces you to be honest about your team’s performance, enabling you to make better strategic decisions moving forward. Even if this means letting some people go, or changing tactics. If you’re not willing to face your weaknesses, how will you be able to transform them into strengths?
Once you’ve conducted an evaluation you can bring sales training back into the picture. When you know what you need to fix, training becomes far more effective – as long as the training provider fully understands your weaknesses and is able to provide realistic solutions. For the best results, it’s a good idea to work with a training provider that offers evaluation and reporting services, so they will be with you from beginning to end. Look for a provider that can guide you through the evaluation, implement a training strategy based on its findings, and then measure the impact of this training over the long term.
Although the idea of an evaluation may seem daunting and time consuming, it’s actually a great opportunity for you to let go of past mistakes and move forward with confidence and clarity. Think of it as a chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. You won’t regret it, especially once you see your sales numbers start to climb.
However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover that most training programmes are average at best and ineffective at worst. The sad reality is that, more often than not, sales training simply does not work. At least not in isolation. Some training programmes can be incredibly successful, but only when they form part of a wider strategy. Expecting training alone to rewire the way your team thinks and sells will only set you up for disappointment.