Why sales managers fear sales training, but shouldn't…and what it can cost the company.

At first glance this title may seem counter intuitive.  Why wouldn’t sales managers and sales training fit together like a hand and a glove?  On the surface, as people who are often responsible for the productivity of the sales team, it seems that programs that could lead to improvement would be something they would scout out, welcome.  Sometimes, they do. Often times, they don’t.  Why?

The answer is quite simple.  One, it raises the expectation of results.  For lots of folks, this is somewhat subconscious but very real.

Two, getting different results requires new behaviors.  Yup.  You can’t pick up a magazine and get six-pack abs or look like a model.  That takes work.  We have to behave differently than we have been.  And getting different results from salespeople requires different behaviors from their managers too.  This only begins at training, it doesn’t end there.  Management has to reinforce new skills over time.

Investing time and money – even if these are far exceeded by the potential return – can feel risky, which can lead to inaction.  And another year without the growth you’re looking for.  It shouldn’t.

If you are a sales manager, or own a company, and are looking to increase sales this year, here are three reasons to consider implementing a sales program, not fear it:

  1. Sales trainers and training DON’T replace sales managers. – There is a relationship between a sales manager that is very different from that they will have with a sales trainer.  The daily motivation from someone who understands their business from the inside; knows their colleagues and has empathy for what it takes to truly get the job done – and reinforce sales skills – is the role of a sales manager.
  2. Some sales people improve a little, some improve a lot.  Consider where each of your sales people are right now in terms of their sales skills.  Some don’t have a lot to learn.  Others might. (Properly assessing where your folks are and what each individual does need, in terms of development, puts you in an even better place.)  What if your top salesperson increased their sales by closing just one or two more big deals a year?  Or, how about closing the gap between your best and average performers?  Getting those average performers closer to the top could have a HUGE impact!  What needs improvement, and in what area of the sales process, varies.  Either way, your investment in a good sales program is likely to be exceeded exponentially by what you paid for it.
  3. The return on your investment in sales training will keep on giving over time, but the results won’t be immediate.  Knowledge is something you get to keep.  Once your people learn and develop new skills, you’ll continue to see an improvement in the results you get.  It’s about growth, not flipping a switch.  If you keep your expectations reasonable, and commit to reinforcing them, you will see the improvement.  Without the commitment, yes, it’s a waste of money – like new exercise equipment or anything else.  It does have to be used.  But if you do use it, wow!

So if you want to increase sales, the question isn’t really whether or not you should invest in a sales training program, assuming you find a good one.  Instead, the question is, “Are you willing to commit to it?”  Nothing worth having is easy to get.  Rock hard abs – and sales growth – included.