February 18, 2023

Sales fall short because of training, not talent

Written by
Robert Cornish
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Sales fall short because of training, not talent

At Richter, we focus on the end-to-end sales journey for B2B companies through pre-sales, sales, training, and internal comm and customer experience:

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An outline of our quadrant strategy

The things we get the most demand for are pre-sales and sales. No question.

But the thing to me that handles everything or nearly everything is training. I'd almost argue that it's the most important and will solve every and any problem in the company.

The companies we work with are behemoths and they do training. A lot of it. But the feedback I get when we speak is that a lot of training, specifically for sales, is stuff no one watches.

As an example, salespeople don't want to watch an hour-and-a-half-long video

With sales training, it needs to be something that's repetitive and can be watched again and again to build a repeatable model

It's just not a one-and-done thing

What we're going for here is competence.

My son just turned 8. He started hockey this year. He's a good little athlete but like anyone, he's learning for the first time and getting better bit by bit. He's on the ice 3 times per week right now and gets better each time. I played double A growing up and it took a bit to play at that level.

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This is my 8 year old about to get on the ice

Sales is no different.

They struggle or can't close because they aren't good. They aren't good because they aren't trained.

Sales competence is the goal. That means the rep can take a deal from end to end and get it closed consistently to hit whatever targets you have set.

You can go the route of searching and recruiting someone who can do it or is already competent but they still need to learn your product/service, culture, customers, objections, etc.

Or you can do it the right way and have training that can build the best team that gets consistent outcomes and has a repeatable model

The areas where most sales reps stumble is on things like process, discovery calls (pitches), judgment and knowing how to overcome questions, objections, and identifying right people and wrong people, and of course closing.

All of this is trainable.

But I do think a lot of the training is done by people who don't sell or haven't or can't. That's a problem.

If you're learning to do anything -- you want to learn from someone who knows and is good (or ideally great)

And that knowledge is generally already internally at your company, you just have to know where to look.

For us, this would include a process of:

- mapping the process (requires some homework with people who know)

- build the simple LEGO instructions framework

- creating the training content

- creating the training pack

- creating the relevant drills

- creating the debug checklists

Training should become culture and there should be a way sales is done. That will create consistency. You can't scale one great player that's a Lone Ranger and does it their way.

I've spoken to many people at the largest Fortune 500 B2B companies and frequently get negative feedback about their sales training.

This mystifies me.

Do it right and build a rock-solid foundation. It will have a strong ROI.

In my view, sales need this, especially now. Anyone can sell or look good when things are flowing and there’s no economic constraints but it takes competence to sell in a tougher climate.

Once this is in place, we can talk about how to support the sales team to improve close rates ;)

— Robert

About Robert Cornish: Robert Cornish founded Richter in early 2008 to build an agency focused on communication strategies that support sales growth for business-to-business technology-related companies. Bootstrapped with zero capital in the middle of the financial meltdown, Richter went on to make the Inc 5000 list comprised of the fastest-growing companies in America five times. Richter made the Silicon Valley Fast 50 four times and the Entrepreneur360 award two times. Robert has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Selling Power Magazine, Inc Magazine and IDEA magazine. He's been a guest speaker for ACG Los Angeles, IASA Summit, West Point and been interviewed for 33Voices, EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast and IDEA Magazine by Northwood University. In 2012 Wiley & Sons published his book, What Works, about the lessons he's learned while growing his agency from start-up navigating his way to a multi-million dollar agency. Robert currently owns five companies.

Get What Works on Audible here >>> https://adbl.co/2BvqS4I

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