Today’s post is by Rick Lloyd, vice president of sales and client services at Unboxed Technology. With experience ranging from sales rep to trainer and manager to board member, Rick has a proven track record of providing successful sales enablement and custom training solutions.
I have a bumper sticker on my car that says, “The older I get, the better I was.” My daughters think this is hilarious, and I’m in constant denial about the fact I’m older and heavier than I used to be. Then I have my annual check-up and I have to take off my shirt, step on the scale, and look in the mirror. Two things become clear: I’m not the same as I was 20 years ago – and I can’t stay healthy without a long-term wellness plan. Help me out, doc.
As sales leaders, we’re in the exact same scenario. We have these wild imaginations about how good we were – how we crushed every call, had the best hustle, and stopped at nothing to go the extra mile. We use this experience and swagger to energize our sales reps. We help them close orders, build pitch decks, and stay motivated throughout their day-to-day obstacles. But, when we don’t get the results we want, we’re forced to self-reflect. We realize our teams need more than shots of adrenaline and temporary fixes.
The 2016 sales report card was a reality check. According to the Sales Performance Optimization Study by CSO Insights:
- 43 percent of our reps missed quota
- 53 percent didn’t generate enough leads
- 41 percent struggled to find competitive differentiators
We have other health issues, too. According to Richardson’s research study, Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017, a whopping 49 percent of respondents said spending too much time on administrative or non-selling activities was their top productivity challenge. 47 percent chose competing against a low-cost provider as their top closing challenge.
An obvious response to a performance gap is to train better. Most of us know our sales training content isn’t meeting modern standards. It’s not mobile or skimmable, it’s generic, and it’s pretty event based and instructor led (translation: expensive and hard to scale).
In contrast, the Association for Talent Development’s 2016 State of Sales Training report recommends sales training content be:
- Tailored to the individual salesperson
- Easy to access
Even if we agree we need to get better sales training content, we still face real bandwidth and resourcing challenges. Let’s face it: the internal learning and development professionals at our organizations are always slammed with other projects, and maybe even a little intimidated by our sales training needs.
If we’re going to build a bigger and better sales team, clone our best reps, and create a competitive advantage, we need a plan – something that will cut through the noise and simplify the process of modernizing our training.
To help the leaders I talk with get their sales toolkits in a better place, we’ve put together the Essential Sales Training Topics Checklist. The checklist is a simple tool to help sales managers give their training program a health check and identify focus areas. After downloading it, you can audit your sales training content using a simple rating scale. You get a score at the end, along with a few recommendations. From there you can game-plan next steps.
Of course, every good salesperson knows a piece of paper can’t replace a genuine conversation, so sometimes sales managers call me after they’ve completed their audit. I can help them prioritize, identify quick wins, and choose focus areas.
If you think your sales training program could use a little Vitamin D, you’re not alone. Based on my experience, sales managers who are willing to be honest about their sales reps’ professional development (or lack thereof) are already on the road to a better program. With some self-awareness, time to complete the audit, and a realistic plan, you can make a measurable impact.
So make sure you’re doing everything possible to help your team beat the competition – and avoid those embarrassing doctor’s visits. Download the checklist today.