It is a harsh fact but the reality is that not enough companies have learned how to employ sales training as a strategic tool: Those that have are leaders in their industries, offering their shareholders maximum return on investment, are able to quickly adapt to changing market conditions, are respected by their customers, and provide consistent sales performance. The sales people that work for those companies are motivated and stay in their jobs longer.
Quite often sales managers and executives don't have the time and experience to do this correctly. Companies with internal training departments do provide guidance, but sales training is quite different from designing and delivering training to other constituencies within an organization, such as customer care, technical support, or human resources.
The first step for any company deciding to make a change in their sales approach is always an assessment of the situation.
• What processes and methods are currently being employed by the company?
• What has their sales performance been?
• What percentage of sales people are delivering against plan?
• What are the sales team's strengths and limitations?
• What are the biggest obstacles to success?
• How dynamic or stable is the company's environment?
• What are the practices and expectations of the buyers?
These are only a few considerations.
Designing or adopting a sales methodology is critical. Without that methodology in place, training is a tactical attempt to fix a larger problem. The selling methodology must be developed based upon the company's unique situation-their market, their customers, how those customers buy, the complexity and price levels of the products and services the company offers, competitive pressures, reporting requirements, the participation of partners, the skill level of their current sales people, etc.
The primary objective of creating an individually tailored organizational development program has to be: "To achieve consistently superior results through the performance of every key individual" - after all, our people are our most important and indeed expensive resource; it therefore makes sense for us to want to see a full and proper return on that investment.
Specifically, we should seek to achieve optimum performance levels via a process and an all-encompassing framework for defining performance standards. This involves assessing, appraising, developing, implementing, reviewing and providing continual feedback on performance.
Emphasis is placed on creating an environment in which the 'can do - will do' mentality thrives and becomes the norm - success and achievement are expected and as a consequence are much more likely to happen.
This total approach enables forward thinking organizations who are committed to looking 'outside the square' and who are not afraid to mentally cross bridges that that their competitors have not even identified, to enter the land of "me - first" rather than the land of "me - too."
It also offers the opportunity to develop excellence in the performance of the company's teams and build the capabilities necessary to consistently over-achieve short, medium and long term objectives.
In my view, we should never lose sight of the following premise.
Premise 1: Whatever got you where you are to-day will not be sufficient to keep you there.
Premise 2: You can only succeed in business to-day if you understand what you are doing, how you are doing it and why you are doing it.
Premise 3: It is difficult to control external events if you do not have control internally.
Premise 4: Being competitive is an ongoing process not a single event.