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Sunday, 19 September 2010

A 2012 Review of Sales Training (part one)

Can you fairly review something from the inside? 

Police Complaints, Government Statistics?  It is difficult to review from the inside, so you have to step outside, seek academic review have someone external validate samples.

Why bother?  Sales Training still sells well; Clients continue to buy.  Delegates continue to hand in positive Happy Sheets.  If repeat business and happy sheets were the measure then no review required!

Imagine, we ask a different question “Does sales training work?” 



Well yes, it works, look at the happy sheets. 
No, I mean “Does it really WORK?” 
To answer this question I have to deploy much different measures Internal Validation: did the sales training do what it said on the bottle?

  • 3 day event: 17 skills to be taught (or Learned),
  • realistic’ Role-play practice, with Video ‘review’,
  • Individual ‘feedback’ from the Trainer.



Internal Validation of most of the Main Training Courses providers,
they performed poorly.

Their definition of a “Skill”, was really a Behaviour:

Example:  “Hammering: a Joiner hits a nail with hammer”. 
But, Carpentry Skills are learned over a 4 year apprenticeship,

  • choosing the right hammer,
  • choosing the right nail,
  • hitting with the correct force are all based on the situation:
    the Client, the Job, the Materials.

Back to Selling: 

Listening:  A salesperson asks questions and listens,

  • “you have two ears and one mouth use them in that ration. 
  • Listen twice as much as you talk”.
  • This cliché is oft repeated and useless, but it gets great Happy Sheets!
  • Research shows Top Performers have a “listen to talk” ratio of 3:1, pity we don't have a third ear!

There are 27 question types,
and TWO types of Listening (Passive and Active)
which should I be using and for what? 

Questions:  Open or Closed, Convergent, Divergent, Rhetorical, Leading, Closing and 17 others  on  and I haven’t even touched Situation, Problem, Implication and Need.

At this point Trainers launch into the Open/Closed Question debate, by opening and closing their mouth and not listening…this was resolved 30 years ago it was not significant by the Huthwaite Research Group (HRG) who brought the world ‘scientific’ selling and SPIN®. 

Despite its lack of significance,
‘Open and Closed’ questions stay on the main course menu of Sales Training.

My internal reviews of Sales Training, has been and continues to be that, they fail to deliver, what they claim:

  • Skills are not ‘taught’, behaviours are demonstrated
  • ‘Realistic Role-play’ falls short of Accreditation Simulation Standard for Assessment
  • Video Reviews a bit embarrassing red faces, tears or laughter
  • ‘Individual feedback from Trainers’ is platitudes,
    non-specific praise or worse criticism 
    “You don’t seem to smile much or give good eye contact!”
    This has given birth to the fixed grin and fixed stare Sales Statues
    that you meet on booths at Sales Events.

What really is happening?  Delegates go through 3 days of ‘success anecdotes’, funny stories, and witty remarks.  They are entertained, not challenged so they give good happy sheets. 

By any Internal Validation Standard, Sales Training is poor.

If YOU the Sales Training Buyer feel aggrieved, then I ask you to consider 

  • “Where was your shopping list?”. 
    You would not buy a car on looks alone. 
    You would consider how well the car met your needs. 
  • What are you going to use the car for?
    No Training Needs Analysis, No Job Descriptions
    and of course no Training Objectives.

Just that happy thought, that at the end of training my salesperson should sell more,
and hence meet or exceed target!

Do you want Training that works? 

  • Training that does what it says on the Bottle.

  • Training based on Structured Needs Analysis.

  • Training that sets Valid Objectives to meet those needs.

  • Training that is validated.

BMAC has been using Leslie Rae’s
Assessing the Value of Your Training” (ISBN: 978-0-566-08535-2) and its predecessors since 1990.

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