Sales training is broken.
It's dead. Washed-up.
And we might be all the better if we helped give it a final push into the coffin.
Take a quick jump over to Google and look at the sales training landscape.
It took me a full 7 seconds to type in my search for "sales trainers" and only 0.23 seconds to get back a list of 6 million results (6,090,000 to not slight the proper performance of the Google search platform).
Another 0.19 seconds later I learned that there were more than 150 million results for the topic of "sales training".
Which didn't surprise me one bit. 150 million tips-and-tricks and yet we are ever only so narrowly avoiding the worst economic marketplace in 8 decades.
My theory - Sales training is a bunch of bullocks.
And it's not just me being extra intolerant today as I sit at my computer drinking coffee by the mugful, scratching out my angst on my trusty Dell Inspiron. Somehow that's a gut instinct that I have been feeling for the past few decades. (And at 31, I just might have figured out that "just threw up in my mouth feeling".)
From my first days on the streets growing a lawn-mowing empire at 12-years old to my first company "turn around" at 20, it has always felt odd to listen to sales training.
Not because I was prepared to any better job at training. I was just a dude with a Jewish mom and no TV anywhere in the house, who inherited a massive inferiority complex. "Being better" was served up like warm butter on a morning bagel. I got the concept.
I just never got this brand of "better". A million different mantras (150 million to be exact) and very little that I could actually use.
We've all hired coaches, mentors, therapists, or consultants. Narcissism (a.k.a. being a selfish human being) doesn't work. To be the best, you need the best help.
And like a lot things in life, the "best" may not be overly clear, but what's not sure is clear.
Here's a few warning signs that your training might be 150 million degrees of broken.
1. It's too short.
We spend less time teaching proper sales behaviors than we do teaching our poodles not to puddle on the carpet.
You're smiling because it just might be true.
We decide that a weekly sales meeting is the level of commitment that best suits our needs. And then when we do roll out a plan to "grow revenue 800% over the next quarter", we set aside a day to get the sales dudes up to speed.
It's just not enough.
It's not even a start. It's a waste of everyone's time.
Look around at your top sales execs. There is a reason that they are on their iPhones. That sigh and sideways glance - let me help you decode. You are wasting their time.
You want this off your plate and expect that an all-day training session will be the answer.
Guess what? Next time you call for an all-hands training session, we might take a sick day. Save you the trouble of telling us to pay attention.
How about you feed me a little bit each day? How about you set aside dedicated time each week, each month, each quarter to mentor me in new directions?
You want commitment? Commit to my success. Training based on the "one night stand" process are the reason we have 150 million options we don't want.
2. It's too boring.
We have (at best) a 20 minute attention span. Please remember that 47 minutes into your monotone dialogue.
Oh, and another thing.
Just because it has Powerpoint in the file name doesn't mean it's a presentation.
And why is that I have to think through my sales pitch, but you show up and "wing it" with my training? (and if you're not, we can't tell the difference...)
Your slides are 17 sessions old. And the examples are completely out-of-touch. It's like you don't even care. Is it because I am forced to listen to you?
I am sure you have something amazing to say. I just stopped listening a long time ago. I just want to be inspired. Can you help me with that?
3. It's too detached.
We try to program sales behaviors rather than sales attitudes.
Ever sit in a sales training session where the entire focus of the training is a series of mind-numbing steps? (Like, every one, right?)
Makes you wonder. Is there a special island where sales trainers all live where everyone's personal life is completely perfect?
Why aren't trainers teaching me how to stay mentally strong? Why not talk candidly to me about my fears, and failures, and how I can't stand rejection?
I get skeptical and a little irritated at you when you try to teach me nonsense that doesn't include the mental preparation to repeat the process once you leave through the front door.
Why do I get the sense that all your "landed the whale" stories are a little too rosy? It just doesn't connect.
In reality there's really only one thing that sales training should be all about. There's really only one thing that really matters. And your mother probably already taught it to you.
That's right. It's not a three step program or a seven paragraph calling script. It's a deep sense of genuine concern for yourself and those around you.
It's about "Fewer tips for closing and more tears of concern..."
You can sell anything when you care enough about the person on the other end of the deal. It just happens.
And yet we don't teach it.
• We don't teach caring (questioning so that the client gets everything that they need)
• We don't teach compassion (positioning so that the client wins)
• We don't teach candor (leading so that the client doesn't feel misled)
We choose transaction over transformation.
And that's the bullocks behind sales training.
Dan Waldschmidt is a former technology CEO, one of the founders of IntroMojo, a popular inspirational speaker, and a sought-after strategist on creating edgy conversations in the marketplace. He blogs regularly on his popular motivational selling blog Edge of Explosion and is the husband to a cute gal named Sara and the father to two energetic boys. He's just an ordinary dude who happens to have an outrageous vision. And he wants to help you change the world...