3 Reasons not to invest in sales training in 2019
If you are planning on sending your sales team to selling skills training to help them get off to a fast start to the year, don’t! There are many small and mid-sized companies who have ineffective sales teams. The first response is often to put the sales team through (pick your flavor of canned) sales training. However, the lack of training on how to make a sales call, deal with objections or convince a prospective customer to take a meeting is typically not the main problem leading to unacceptable sales results.
Most small and mid-sized businesses were founded by people with a technical skill and a passion. The technical skill may have been in engineering, finance, technology, the medical field, or sheet metal manufacturing. However, the vast majority of business owners lack a background in sales or marketing. Many of these businesses achieve a certain level of revenue before the owner realizes that scale is not possible without a sales team in place. This will lead to the business making an investment in a sales person, or sales team, in hopes the investment will drive scale. This is where the problems generally start for the business, because:
1. The business owner has never hired salespeople - Because the owner has never hired a salesperson, there is too little thought given to the characteristics and background the salesperson needs to be successful, the job description or compensation model, which will ultimately lead to hiring on “gut feel,” rather than a model which will work for both the company and the salesperson. These factors will generally lead to hiring the wrong people, or frustrating the right people, driving costly turn-over. Spending time and money training the wrong people is a waste of money, as is sub-optimizing the right people.
2. There has been too little thought given to sales strategy and market and client segmentation – Until the company has defined a sales strategy that is accretive to valuation and defines both the most desirable geographic markets, as well as the profile of the most desirable customers, the company is relying on the sales team to decide these things on behalf of the entire organization. It is imperative that the leadership team develops the strategy and market approach and uses this structure to effectively guide the activities of the sales team. A sales team without direction will fail, regardless of whether they have received canned training on making sales calls.
3. There is no organizational structure in place to facilitate sales success – It is in a company’s best interest to increase the speed of gaining a return on its investments in all cases. This includes investments in a sales team. When a company brings on a sales team without an effective on-boarding process, lack of integration between marketing and sales, no truly differentiating sales stories, a compensation structure that does not incentivize behavior that enhances profitability and valuation, or a measurement and management structure in place, no amount of generic sales training is going to make the sales team effective.
In most relationship-based, professional, B2B sales environments, the most common pitfalls to achieving success come as a result of hiring the wrong people or giving the right people no direction or structure, not having or communicating a succinct sales and segmentation strategy or value proposition, and having no organizational structure in place to facilitate success. While there is certainly a time and place for sales training and it is always beneficial to “sharpen the saw,” make sure you are investing in someone who has personally had a long and successful sales career, and will customize the training to your organization, not someone with minimal sales experience or success reading from a script. There are certainly books, such as New Sales Simplified by Mike Weinberg, and all of his newly released video content, which are excellent resources for improving your organization’s sales approach, as well.
If your sales team is struggling, it is highly likely that you would be much better positioned by investing in a scalable structure first, as opposed to sending your sales team to a class, which typically has little long-term impact and likely won’t produce the results you need.
This article was authored by Greg Stanley, founder and owner of Accelerant Consultants, a consulting firm dedicated to helping small and mid-sized businesses maximize growth and valuation through effective execution within their sales and marketing functions. Greg has spent a career of over 25 years helping large and small companies build sales and marketing teams from the ground up and managing existing teams in a way that leads to intentional growth, maximized profitability and enhanced valuation. To learn more about how Accelerant Consultants helps clients build and execute growth strategies that significantly increase organizational value, or to have a discussion on how to address your organization’s specific challenges, visit www.accelerantconsultants.com