Seven Deadly Sins of Sales Training

Seven Deadly Sins of Sales Training

  • One of the best marketing weapon a company can use against it's competition is sales training. In bottom line profits, it can mean the difference between breaking even and leading the pack. At Max Sacks International, we've seen salespeople increase their productivity 50 to 100 percent and more as a direct result of sales training - the right sales training. Is your current program showing these results? Max Sacks International has identified in its 40+ years of experience:

    The Seven Deadly Sins of Sales Training.

    • What's wrong with sales training today? In most instances, there isn't any. Most companies do offer "sales training," but typically this merely consists of product knowledge and how to do the necessary paperwork. It seems ridiculous for a company to require its salespeople to have 4 or 5 years of formal education, and then send them into the field armed with only their product knowledge and very little if any sales training. Sales knowledge makes product knowledge pay off. Product knowledge alone is not enough.


    • CEOs and other top level managers often lack sales backgrounds and therefore don't fully understand what professional selling requires. Reluctantly, they may agree to implement training to pacify the company's sales managers and training department. A one shot approach to sales training however will not work. For sales training to be effective, it must meet three requirements:
      • 1. It must be ongoing.
        2. It must be repetitious.
        3. It must have real-world application.


    • It's hard to believe, yet companies often center the effectiveness of their sales training program around an instructor who has no sales experience whatsoever. Any company using training personnel without established, proven sales track records, is only kidding itself. You can't expect individuals who have never sold before to adequately train other people on how to do it. It's probably truer in sales training than nearly anything else today: "Those who can, do...and those who can't, teach."


    • It's amazing to realize how much of Corporate America still teaches outdated selling techniques. These include the trick questions and manipulative, high pressure selling tactics that were so commonly implemented in the '60s and '70s. Techniques such as the assumptive close, assuming that the prospect wants to buy and filling out an order. Or the alternate choice techniques, "Do you want it in red or blue?" And don't forget the impending event, "You better get your order in now, because the price is going to go up on the first of the month." The old-fashioned hard sell is no longer applicable because today's buyer is much more sophisticated, knowledgeable, aware - and reacts adversely to the old ways of selling. In most instances, the buyer can tell when these tactics are being used. And as a result, these methods usually backfire.

     Sin #5: HOOEY WOOI

    • The way companies think that they can take salespeople and teach them how to be psychologists is beyond me. If you want your salespeople to become psychologists, send them to college for 5 or 6 years where they can learn how. Otherwise, don't have them trying to analyze their customers and meddling in the science. We know that in most instances the salespeople do not make any attempt whatsoever to close the sale. Wouldn't it be more effective to teach them how to ask for an order, rather than trying to turn them into psychologists?


    • Typically, when new salespeople are brought on board, the company puts them through an orientation program, which usually provides the product knowledge necessary for any salesperson to be successful. The actual sales training is left for the sales manager or other "qualified" personnel. The typical scenario is as follows: The manager will take the recruit out on a sales call to show him or her how to do it. With the benefit of 15 years of experience, confidence and knowledge, the manager then makes the most difficult sale appear to be as easy as falling off a log. He or she then turns to the recruit, "See, that's all there is to it. Just do what I did." But the manager doesn't realize that he can't transfer his 15 years of experience, his 15 years of confidence and his 15 years of knowledge to the new salesperson. However, more important than that, is that a new salesperson cannot learn how to sell effectively by trying to sell like someone else. Why? Because each person should sell with his or her own personality and style. He or she won't get anywhere trying to emulate someone else.
      • Unfortunately, Corporate America often regards their sales organization as a liability, instead of an asset. Companies need to understand that the sales force is an asset; the only asset on the corporate books that can appreciate with meaningful sales training programs and can have a major impact on bottom line profits. We hear companies say things like, "We are a company of our people, our greatest asset is our people." That's nonsense. Any company's greatest asset is not its people. A company's greatest asset is the undeveloped potential of its people. If a company understands this and makes a commitment to the development of this asset, providing its people with continuous, effective sales training, they can expect to move ahead of their competitors in the marketplace. An effective, on-going sales education program can provide any company with a sales differential that will leave their competitors in the dust.



Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.