Seven signs of a culture that’s hostile to training
  • sales
  • Blog post

Seven signs of a culture that’s hostile to training

I’ve blogged before about the challenges of delivering effective sales training. They’re the same challenges facing anything worth doing in business: Tight budgets. Competing priorities. Knowledge gaps. In organizations that truly believe trained salespeople deliver more value than untrained ones, these challenges are viewed as problems to be solved, not reasons to do nothing.

Unfortunately, other “challenges” are really excuses, not obstacles to be overcome. You can tell the differences, because these generally are presented as problems that can’t be solved. They’re simply too overwhelming, or they’re somehow rooted in the nature of man, or they represent some immutable attribute of the universe — as in, “There are only so many hours in the day.”

Stephen Meyer, the CEO of Rapid Learning Institute, recently posted a piece on his Forbes blog cataloging the most common such excuses. I recommend that you read Steve’s blog for two reasons: (1) It’s based on a survey of you, our loyal Top Sales Dog readers (none of whom have much patience for lame excuses, as it turns out), and (2) it presents some red flags that can alert you to some corrosive attitudes that may be undermining sales training in your organization — in other words, if you’re hearing these kinds of things in your organization, there’s probably a problem with the culture, not with the training.

In future posts, we’ll look at some of these excuses in greater depth. But for now, let me give you the list of Seven Lamest Excuses for Not Training Salespeople, as voted upon by you, the readers:

1. “I don’t have time for selling-skills training.” Duh. That’s like salespeople saying, “I don’t have time to make cold calls” or “I don’t have time to keep in touch with my customers.” Time is always in short supply. If it’s important, it gets done.

2. “I just do some coaching and mentoring as needed.” This is the perfect copout. Translation: I train, but there’s no accountability, no metrics, no way to demonstrate whether it’s effective, or happening at all.

3. “My reps don’t have time.” In other words, the inmates are running the asylum.

4. “My reps are all experienced and don’t need sales training.” Of course they don’t. An experienced rep couldn’t possibly get any better than he or she already is. Also, experienced ballplayers don’t need batting practice.

5. “Our industry is unique; generic selling-skills training doesn’t work.” Sales skills are based on fundamental principles of human motivation and psychology. Unless you’re selling to Martians, this one doesn’t wash.

6. “Higher-ups don’t support selling-skills training.” In other words, you were unwilling or unable to sell it to the boss.

7. “My reps don’t want to learn.” Really? Why are they working for you, then? Everybody wants to learn — just look at the success of Wikipedia.

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