Posted by gschwandtner gerhard – 2 years ago
OfflinePhoto of gschwandtner gerhard

Join the conversation with S. Anthony Iannarino, the Gold Medal Winner of the Top Sales and Marketing Blog. In this five-minute video he talks about Sales Training and what B2B needs to learn from B2C sales

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1 Comment

OfflinePhoto of Mike Kunkle Mike Kunkle said 2 years ago

Thanks for including my question, guys! Here's some response/commentary from me.

I couldn't agree more with creating a culture of ongoing training and coaching. The quote Gerhard cites about doing what others won't today, to do what others can't tomorrow, is so insightful and true. When I started in sales, I was thrown to the wolves with little training and no coaching. So, I read and listened to everything I could get my hands on. Because of my background in music, I audio and video-recorded myself several times a week, practicing like crazy, rehearsing the things I read and heard. It made a world of difference. That year, I personally outsold an office of 5 other people. When I finally became a manager, I trained and coached constantly. Our office grew by over 600%, year over year. It works.

I do, however, understand why sales leaders hesitate to take reps away from sales activity to train and coach. Most sales training does NOT produce the desired results (see below for why), so just committing to do it more often, may not matter. In fact, it could make things worse, contributing to the false belief that "sales training doesn't work." Argh! That drives me nuts. Poor sales training doesn't work (or even good sales training poorly executed). Good sales training, done well, produces great results.

  • It needs to be the RIGHT training, preferably culled from top producers in that industry, company, using that product set, with their target customer-base. It has to produce results, if used in the real-world. If you pick even a great program off the shelf (without customizing) and implement it poorly, don't be disappointed when results don't improve.
  • The training needs to be well designed for learning to occur. It should separate knowledge and skill, and treat each appropriately. For skill, there must be PRACTICE (just like the quote) and FEEDBACK, with a chance to re-do, after feedback. (Role play, baby. It's what's for dinner. Stop whining and eat your spinach. ;-) Your comment about squeezing training in on another agenda or creating a massive content dump… so true. Neither of those is "good, well-designed training." Let's all get real with each other in 2013, and stop this insanity.
  • Management must understand what is being trained, and know how to diagnose how well it is being used and how to coach to close skill and performance gaps. Management must understand what is being trained, and know how to diagnose how well it is being used and how to coach to close skill and performance gaps. (Yes, I am aware that I wrote that twice ;-).
  • The behaviors must then be further reinforced and coached *over time*, so the rep adds the skills to their long-term tool belt, and use them appropriately.

So, having said all that, let's go back to my original question. I think sales training does need to change. If buyers are doing so much research on their own, engaging sales reps later and later in their decision-making process, and buying through growing leverls of consensus, reps had better be prepared with new mindsets, dialogue and diagnosis skills, engagement capability, value-creation behaviors, and be able present solutions in new ways rather (if I hear the word "pitch" one more time, I might scream). They need to understand how to create partnerships, at the appropriate levels (meaning with the appropriate roles/levels in the prospect organization and at the right depth, based on the match between the prospect organization and their own). If we think the same ol' set of sales behaviors of the past are going to differentiate us for the future, well, let's just say we're in for a rough ride in 2013 and beyond.

Lastly for today, I couldn't agree more with your take on Product vs. Sales Training. They must be combined. Product training is facts and figures. It's head stuff, and a little skill in talking about it. The real value lies in creating realistic scenarios, where the rep must USE what they learned in sales training and match and discuss products appropriately, solving problems in real-world, complex cases. Simulations. That's how you prepare people for the real-world, and hone the skills that matter to buyers.

Well, thanks again for the great content and for addressing part of my question. I have to run for now and hope this has added some value to the discussion. I look forward to future videos and any thoughts in return.


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