In Robert Bruce Shaw’s book Extreme Teams: Why Pixar, Netflix, AirBNB, And Other Cutting-Edge Companies Succeed Where Most Fail, there is a very specific point made around who the best companies hire and who they do not: “Cutting-edge firms would rather hire, if forced to do so, people who are A’s in regard to cultural fit and B’s in regard to their talent.”
Simply put, a sales candidate’s cultural contributions will impact a team much more than their individual talent will.
Finding a skills sales trainer
The subject of how to build the best team is a rabbit hole we could easily go down, with scores of quotes around culture vs. talent, team priorities, hiring, healthy conflict amongst the team, etc. But in the few minutes we have, I’d love to answer this question specifically: What skills should a trainer have?
Before diving in, I’d like to let you down easy and share that we’re most likely not going to break any new ground here—which is a great thing, because everything we need to know about pretty much anything is usually right in front of us. It’s not flashy, it’s probably not always fun, but it’s the small steps that compound into something bigger and better over time.
Companies with the best training programs and trainers will tell you, “It’s a constant work in progress,” or “There’s still a lot we don’t know.” This may seem counterintuitive, but in order for you to be the most skilled sales trainer you can be, I think it comes down to developing great sales and marketing courses around adaptability.
But why focus on adaptability?
We could easily scratch out a list of qualities like listening or feedback or inspiration, and those qualities are without a doubt important, but it’s the ability to change that will separate great trainers from the rest.
Just like Billy Beane says to his old school baseball scouting department in the movie Moneyball: “Adapt or die.” This example might be a tiny bit drastic, but you get the idea.
There are two things that must constantly be adapted to keep your sales trainers sharp:
- Your sales training curriculum
- Your approach to enabling your team
The sales training curriculum
Let’s start with your current sales training curriculum. Whether you realize it or not, your sales curriculum is always on its way to being out-of-date, and that goes for all types of sales training programs. Especially if you are in a scaling company that is rolling out new products every quarter. What you are selling, the ideal client profile, and standard operating procedures are in a constant state of flux.
There’s no one size fits all either. There are many sales training examples and sales training topics. Your training curriculum could be in-person, online, or a hybrid of both. It could also involve virtual sales training or any other basic sales training. If you’re stuck and looking for help organizing what makes the most sense for your team, a few of our other resources will walk you through specific ways to build a training program.
Not only will your products and ICP change, but your timeline will continually evolve as well. For example, you might currently be onboarding each new sales rep in a two week timeline. But as your platform and pricing become more complex, this will only take longer. What about when account targeting evolves from strictly commercial-sized accounts to commercial and enterprise accounts?
Your company will evolve, so make sure you are developing and conducting sales training programs that evolve with it.
Enabling your team
Next, adapt to your team. This is another rabbit hole we could get lost in. Hiring, cultural fits, and team balance are three topics we could fill multiple books on with thoughts right here and now. The processes vs. talent argument is a tree with many branches. But for this exercise, let’s just talk about you, a sales trainer, adapting to your reps and making selling with stories more simple with good processes.
As much as we all love to put processes in place, not everybody on the team will learn the same way, because not every sales rep is the same. The Challenger Sale alone identifies 5 different types of sales reps:
- The Relationship Builder
- The Reactive Problem Solver
- The Hard Worker
- The Lone Wolf
- The Challenger
If you haven’t read the book, you can probably make a couple calculated guesses about the personality traits of each one, but this just shows that no matter the system in place, each sales rep will have a different way of working, learning, and accepting feedback.
Put your processes in place, and put your sales training courses in place, but be prepared to be fluid with the learning process of each rep, and go to them wherever they are. Meet them in the frequency where you both will learn from each other.
I hope the few minutes you spent reading this post reminded you to both adapt your sales skills training program relentlessly, and to adapt and customize your training with each rep.
If you need help with any of these ideas, we’d love to have a conversation with you. Feel free to ping us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, keep adapting!
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