• Brett Zalaski

Top 3 Ways to Maximize a Sales Training

I received this note the other week, and have spent some serious time pondering it:

"We have sales trainers come in at least 3-4 times a year. I get excited for a day or two, and then revert right back to my old habits. I feel like most of my growth comes from trial and error and not training. How can I be better at taking stuff away from the sales trainers?"

We are incredibly fortunate to exist in a time where there have never been more quality #sportsbiz sales trainers. That said, there is a study by Xeros that shows that 87% of sales training is useless in a month. While much of that comes from the way that training is delivered and a lack of follow up by management...there are things sales reps can do to combat this problem, too.

Here's the bottom line: If you are not prepared to take anything away from a sales training, you will not take anything away from a sales matter how good it is. To that, here are my top 3 ways to make sure you get concrete improvements from any sales training:

  1. Come Prepared: Most sales trainers these days have a lot of content available online. Take this website for instance. Most trainers will have a similar website, a newsletter, etc. that will be able to provide information on the way they see sales and sales training. Understanding their point of view and methodologies prior to them walking into the room will help you focus on what they say in the room. General sales principles are everywhere. You can read about them in your spare time. Having a sales thought leader in your office should be your opportunity to personalize those important pieces of content to your sales game. We all sell differently, but that doesn't mean our approach shouldn't be shaped by others...and you'll have an advantage over your peers walking into the room if you understand what you want to accomplish from that training.

  2. Ask Questions: When I walk out of a sales training, no matter how good or bad I've been, I can usually tell which organizations will maximize my training...and which ones won't. No matter how much I try to get people (or force people) to engage, if no one is asking questions, I know my time was ultimately almost worthless. Many times reps don't want to 'look dumb' by asking questions to help clarify the training. While peer pressure to not look stupid is real, so is not allowing yourself the opportunity to clearly understand something that could make you better. If your brain is making a question out of something you're hearing, that probably means it thinks it's important to help you sell better...SO ASK THE QUESTION! Sales is about results, not how good you look doing it...and the more you participate in training, the more you'll get out of it.

  3. Compartmentalize Your Takeaways: If you try to put everything from a sales trainer into your sales approach right away, you will fail. That's not even an arguable statement for me...that's a stone cold fact. You can only overwhelm yourself after a sales training by turning all of your notes into practice. I've pushed my sales reps, and the sales reps that I've trained, to write out their top 4-6 takeaways for right now, and their 4-6 top takeaways for one month from now. Your sales growth and development is a marathon, not a sprint. Continuing to develop consistently over time is critical towards true sales growth year-on-year-on-year-on-etc. Sales trainings are crucial to that growth, but only if you're smart about the way you work to internalize the takeaways.

You can see this means you'll have work to do before, during, and after training to maximize that training...which is how it should be, right? Think about a great hitter in baseball. They'll study video of the pitcher prior, as well as studying the analytics of their tendencies. During the game, when they are at-bat, they'll make changes to their approach to ensure they are maximizing what they see and do that day. Finally, they will take a look at the video after to see where their mechanics fell short or succeeded, as well as takeaways from the pitchers they faced for next time. The same is true with sales order to maximize it to its fullest. A bad sales training is a loss of 2 days on the phone. A great sales training is a lifetime of value. That may sound sappy, but it's the absolute truth. So much of my sales approach comes from what I learned by better salespeople around me. That only works if you work at making the takeaways you want to implement stick. Cue 'The More You Know' graphics and music!