Legendary sales trainer, David Sandler, tells a story about a golf pro-am he once played in. Before the round started, he was on the driving range, hitting dozens of balls, using several of his clubs to get warmed up. At one point, the pro of the club stood in the stall next to him, put three balls on the ground, hit them all with the same club, and got ready to walk away. Stunned, Sandler said to him, “Is that all you’re going to hit?” The pro replied, “Sandler, if you didn’t bring it with you, you ain’t gonna find it here.”
What Sandler didn’t see were the hours upon hours of practice this golf pro put in. The tens or even hundreds of thousands of drives, chips, putts, approach shots, saves, that were practiced over the years, all absent from Sandler’s view of the three-ball warm up.
Sales training methods should be no different. No matter what your stated training methodology may be, it comes down to practice. You can let your reps practice on the job, that’s fine. But on-the-job training methods often elongate ramp time, probably take longer for your reps to become great, and likely impact your goals and company goals along the way.
You can implement two different training delivery methods or forms of practice into your weekly coaching cadence today. For some of you, the two ideas here will be new to your organization and feel like modern training methods, but for others of you, they’ll seem more like traditional training methods that fall in line with your current training approach. Regardless, I think they both have major potential to take your sales team to the next level. Here they are:
1. Group Practice
Get a group of your reps or all of them in a room together at least once every other week. Give them a scenario that relates to a skill you or they have identified as a key to success. And simply let them role play with each other. Five minutes. Switch roles. Five more minutes. Come back to the group, and let them highlight what went well.
2. Pitch Practice
Let’s face it—your product likely changes a lot. Or the value changes, or the market changes, or the use case changes. When that happens, it’s essential to streamline that information and get it to your reps in an on-the-job training process. While this is a great start, the story shouldn’t end here. Let your reps practice what you just trained them on before they pitch it to your prospective buyers. You can do this in person. You can use training software. You can ask them to record a video or a sound clip on their phone and send it to you. Whatever approach you take, it’s a great start. The important thing is that they get the words out of their mouths, and they get feedback from you, another manager, or a peer on their attempt.
A more traditional approach to training and development might be tough in the long run when implementing these practice opportunities, so don’t be afraid to modernize your training and make it work for your organization. I promise it’s worth it. Your coaching training method will evolve and you’ll have a culture of practice and progress in no time.
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