Sales training is often just a crutch or an excuse for an under-performing sales team.  Sales management grasping for straws over a poor performance will grasp onto sales training as the cure like a drowning swimmer grasps onto the first floating object they come to.  "We need training!" is a cry heard in boardrooms.  No, training isn't by any means a cure-all.  


There seems to be this prevailing attitude that if only your salespeople can learn a few more "tricks" for overcoming objections, or ticks for getting past the gatekeepers or another close technique ("teach them the Ben Franklin close and it will all be good!") they should dramatically improve their results.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  Learning sales tricks is nothing but the icing on the cake, it isn't the cake itself.  A few new tricks might save a few sales in an organization but statistically it won't add up to much.  The qualities that make a good salesperson are much more about their attitudes, aptitudes, desires, personality coupled with basic sales skills.  The qualities that make a successful sales person is that they must have the qualities to be good and they must be driving an effective sales process.  Great personal qualities applied to a poor process is as bad as poor personal qualities applied to a great sales process.


What is important is to have sales people with the right attitudes and aptitudes selling products and services that are well positioned in the marketplace and sold with a sales process that is proven, repeatable and profitable.  What makes up a proven, repeatable and profitable sales model will be discussed in greater detail in an upcoming blog entry, but suffice it to say that it means that the sales process--the way you sell your products and services--is a process that can be executed successfully (proven) and efficiently by your sales team and that it is scalable (thus repeatable) such that your company and your successful sales team can both make money!  If the sales process needs some work, fix it!  Then create sales training that is tied to the sales process so your sales team can execute it successfully! 


The most important steps to addressing an under-performing sales team center on three things:   The sales process, the qualities and aptitudes of the sales people and then and only then the sales skills through sales training.  The sales process is the result of the best sales minds in the company with or without outside help distilling the buying process of the various customer segments.  With an understanding of the buying process for each segment, a sales process needs to be overlaid that can efficiently move the buyer through that buying process.  The sales organization must be organized to that sales process and the sales team must then be taught the skills to execute the process.  That is how effective sales training is done!