A Gem from Noah Fleming – Is Sales Training Really the Answer?
What is the Desired Outcome?
What will we be able to do after X that we can’t do now? Replace X with your next big investment. Replace X with your desire for more sales training. Or replace X with that shiny, bright, and new app or piece of software the marketing folks are telling you that you need.
I’m going to keep harping on a major theme of my Tuesday Tidbits because it’s incredibly important to keep harping on. Just last week I received another call from the VP of Sales of a large company to ask me to come do “a sales training.” Why they call it “a training” is beyond me, but when I asked the VP what the objectives or desired outcomes were, and how the company would be better off, he couldn’t give me an answer. So I told him I couldn’t quote him a fee for “a training.”
He was charged by his boss, the CEO, to get the sales team performing more effectively–and of course to get revenues up. But he wasn’t able to tell me what he hoped they would be able to do better after a single day together beyond, “sell more.”
Surely, if I spent a day with them they would be able to sell more and drive revenue growth, but here’s why this is a sticking point for me. Do they really need just a day of training? Do they need a month? Do they need more process? Do they need new sales tools? Is the problem even really in the sales department?
By asking and answering this question of what happens after something takes place, you are demonstrating that you understand what you need to do, and what is needed to be successful in your company, and industry. Without that understanding, you are pretty much doomed. Unfortunately, many people just give up that kind of critical thinking. It’s just another example of the abdication of responsibility.
Now you might be saying, “Noah, isn’t it your job to demonstrate the value to the prospective client?” And yes, it almost always is. But in this case, no. When the CEO of the company says, “Get Noah Fleming in here” there’s value in me forcing them to think how they’ll be better off once I do show up. There’s value in showing them they might not need sales training, but what they need is a new commission structure or a new VP of Sales, or the removal of the “this too shall pass” attitude.
Sometimes they say something like, “We only want to rally the troops.” And that’s fine, except that blanket motivational talks rarely do much to change behaviors, or fix the lack of process, or improve proactive sales and revenue generating efforts from your team.
I can help my clients recognize the value they don’t even know they’ll get from training or process improvement, but there’s value in forcing them to do the critical thinking before they spend their money. If they’re just too lazy to do that, then I’m not sure it’s a good fit. More importantly, I’m not confident they’ll hold up their end when we’re working together.
My clients will tell you, that this is one of the most practical and unique features of working with me. It’s why I’m willing to spend my own money and get on a plane to see them BEFORE we even have an agreement on the scope of the work. Let’s figure out the objectives first, then define the ROI, and then–and only then–define the best way to deliver it. That’s where the real value is created. Last year I invested well over $50,000 in travel expenses to visit prospective clients in Tennessee, Alberta, Florida, California, Texas and beyond, before any of them gave me a dime.
So let me share these wise words of wisdom today. If the head of sales in your business says that the answer to increasing profits and revenue is to just “train the idiots,” then you’ve all grossly failed in your responsibilities to your company. And your VP has failed too. There’s this notion that as soon as a company has “more information” or other vaguely defined goals, that they will somehow magically be more productive or profitable.
Call me first before just deciding your seasoned sales team needs another round of training and let’s talk about the outcomes first. We’re better off starting with the simple question, “If we do this, or if we invest in this, what happens next? More importantly, what will you be able to do differently at the end, that you can’t do now?”
Your Weekly Challenge: Consider an investment you’re thinking about making in your business and ask yourself if you’ve considered how the organization will be better off and what the desired business outcomes are, or is it just something you want to do because you think it might help?