Why Not the Sales Training & how to properly prepare for our Sales Plan

I’m not old, and still  throughout my experience as an IT solution provider, I have practiced the old traditional way of selling. We used to depart  the office in the morning, and hopefully return in the afternoon with a sort of set next steps (ex: next meeting, presentations, demonstration or an offer submission). This was  followed by some haphazard supervision on our daily activities. In other industries such as FMCGs,  as long  purchase orders kept coming in, what happened between the salesperson’s departure and return was of little consequence to the management.

I’m not denying  the truth of what I have learned from this system but according to HR Chally study it was once an acceptable way of life and in some cases successful. Today, it has fallen of favor with sales management for at least two good reasons.

1 This is not a teachable, repeatable way to sell. If sales management has no definition of how they want their people to sell, then their only mean is to keep motivating them or to fire the least productive and roll the dice in hiring new comers. Refer to Difficulty Behind Hiring Good Sales People article.

2 It is very difficult to measure and manage the improvement of our sales force with the absence of a mapped process. What’s the use of running, if you are not on the right road. This is the importance of setting an up-to-date strategic sales strategy coupled with stretched realistic targets and objectives

To those who argue that this style is still working, I would say “working is not enough” it’s like cancer in its early stage “we feel no symptoms.” World class sales organizations understand this and strive to develop and map their sales process for their people to follow. Refer to Why to Map Our Sales Process article

The question remains why NOT the Sales Training and How then to prepare our 2012 sales plan

Why Not The Sales Training

Maybe this subject has been circulated much recently on HBR, BNET and many other blogs, still I wanted to enlighten  the failures of it before preparing our 2012 Sales Plan

In the  old traditional way of selling described above, and since management could not identify the root problem but rather focus only on the number of the daily visits conducted by sales reps, motivational training was a solution. But why it wasn’t  effective:

1 They hired a motivational speaker: Sure, a motivational speaker can get people excited, but motivation can’t fix the root causes of sales ineffectiveness.

2 They didn’t address the root cause: Unfortunately with the absence of a structured selling process, sales reps developed their selling habits, skills, and style  by trial and error, poorly shaped.  New habits could not be formed with an introduction of a better way, or a reinforcement of the new skill. .

3 They gave too many tips and techniques: I’m a hard believer that sales is living, and what we communicate to our client rely much on the way presented. New techniques or information  when presented once, at a sales training event, will hardly undo years of habit and experience. It should be delivered in the form of a process, rather than bite-sized nuggets.

4 They took the training as an event: They took the training as an event:  Sales Training will definitely work perfectly if it is executed as a process, not as an event.

A process of developing an entire learning and performance system.  It is like selling, sales won’t work if we focus on closing only, the client will feel it. You will get stunned by the results if you live the selling process instead.

“What I imagined success to be two years ago is not success for me now ” – Lawton Ursrey

Therefore, let us focus on developing a sales plan rather than a sales training event.

Developing a Sales Plan

Perseverance is priceless, but this doesn’t abolish Albert Einstein saying “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” Hence let’s start it differently this time.

1 Strategic Sales Strategy: It is not possible to discover the ocean if you fear losing site of the shore. Focus on the Who (the target market), the What (your targeted product(s) / service(s) and the How (a focused selling approach). Worry less on what you will lose if its not on your horizon.

2 Targeted Offering: “Just because you’ve been selling it for years or perhaps decades –does not necessarily mean you are good at it.” [Good to Great] Look at the other side and what you are losing. Apply the hedgehog concept and offer only the intersection of your expertise, passion, and the drive of cash.

The HedgeHog Concept

3 Market Segmentation: Analyze your numbers, categorize its source, and try to segment your market differently. There are always new ways for doing things.

4 Competitors: Analyze your competitors. Look at your direct competitors as alleys as they are helping you in educating your market on how you differentiate yourselves. Be anxious from your indirect competitors

5 Sales Model: Take full care to build your sales model that compliment with your strategy. Map this model then inherit it along its milestones in your sales force culture. Have the understanding of small wins.

6 Set realistic stretchable targets: Set realistic stretchable targets based on analysis rather than being based on the board of Directors’ need. Divide set targets into quarters and even into months if your sales model allow, then keep it lively because people develop their capabilities when stretching their objectives chronologically.

7 Development Program: Evaluate thoroughly your needs, and build accordingly your development program. Let it be a process of a pragmatic training moving in parallel with coaching rather than followed by one.