Great sales organisations are not hung up about what’s on a CV, they train raw talent says Lee McQueen, Lord Sugar's Apprentice winner 2008.
Walk into any book shop and you’re guaranteed to find a shelf dedicated to the secrets of successful sales, how to be the greatest sales person, the psychology of selling or even the proven formula guaranteed to make you millions.
There are whole libraries of books, videos, role play games and online presentations aimed at improving the sales performance of sales personnel. Companies large and small invest in these in their quest for improving their top line; in a belief that this is training, in other words their investment to supporting their sales force. These products may provide marginal, spot improvement, but the bigger problem is that an over reliance on individual sales consultant performance, without well-developed sales processes, are unlikely to lead to revolutionary results.
Most sales organizations admit to having low level or basic sales processes in place and without having an adequate sales system, any education or training by sales consultant is unlikely to be transformative, except in exceptional circumstance or through sheer luck. These are the findings of Aberdeen Consulting in their research into the Best in Class sales organisations.
Lee McQueen, whose business is based on raw sales talent and finding extraordinary sales people is almost religious about nurturing sales teams, seeking out the right competencies and behaviours in the context of their work places, customers and markets without even looking at a CV.
According to Aberdeen, sales training and on-going education is the cornerstone of effective sales teams, but getting this to be effective means looking at the whole, not just the sales part. Indeed 88% of top performing sales organisations provide training and on-going education to all their sales personnel from sales consultants to leaders, in other words the entire sales machine is invested in, for their particular contribution.
Yet even this is not the magic card. “Great sales organisations have unique insight into what works for them and my experience of working with them is that they’re not hung up about what’s on a CV but how they can train individuals that have raw talent in the way that they do things” says Lee McQueen.
Best in Class organisations understand their buyers and their motivations, they have repeatable work flows and processes that take prospective buyers on a journey that leads to a deal finally being concluded. And they map all the elements in which they need to practice in; a practice that is both taught and internalized throughout all sales stakeholders.
It goes without saying that the better trained and educated will perform better in their said field but here’s the rub; top sales companies do that but they also document and share the detail of their great performance internally, with the view to bringing on those who have the raw talent and are worth training. And all this good sales hygiene has a positive impact on improved staff acquisition and retention.
So why do they share? Think of the professional athlete training to be the best in their class. Their training programme is based on ‘working out’ each of the elements that bring them in first past the post. It’s about minute refinement and improvement in each and every element of the contributory factors that produces star performance. Understanding their repetitive exercise routine is what brings results; ongoing training and education, understanding, sharing and repeating the routines that lead to success.
Earlier we mentioned the sheer range of published works aimed at improving sales performance with each author claiming to have the winning formula. Training and education in sales techniques certainly has its place and can lead to better understanding of how to improve the sales operation, but any such training must be made in a wider context of a whole bigger picture and Best in Class don’t just hand out books or videos of a star performer evangelizing on their methods, the vast majority of them are training all sales stakeholders even those in non-sales activities.
Companies that are committed to ongoing sales training are significantly better at a range of things; they’re better communicators, more profitable, they maintain workflows around collateral, quoting, contracts and ordering, they find, train and retain sales talent, their sales actions are in synch with revenue, they use technology tools and they’re fully cognizant of cross sell and upsell opportunities. All these advanced behaviours and competencies lead to superior sales success and sales training is a significant enabler of that success.
It’s worth pointing out that we’re not denigrating published works, they have their place, but when studied in comparison to what best performing sales companies do, be it large or small, their training is systematically synched to their product, their brand, their customer and their market and although they’re more likely to be trailblazers, only a small proportion are, yet these companies are in touch with what they do and how they serve, just like a stick of rock throughout their organization. And it is unlikely that a book or a video or any online presentation can effect the linked chain that brings comparable success.
As Lee explains in the partnership with Sales Gym 360 “You wouldn’t get a six pack in the gym by cramming training into a week, so why do that with your sales training”
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