October 18, 2018

Sales training workshops are a must for every company. New people need to learn professional selling techniques, and veterans need to brush up on their existing skills and add to them. Every business must budget for this, or risk eventual collapse because the sales function is what literally generates all the activity in a company. Otherwise, all you have is products and ideas, with no money. Bleak.

Not all sales training workshops are alike, however, and you risk wasting your training investment dollars if you choose one with any of the following issues:

1. Wrong format.

Sales training workshops should invite active participation from the attendees. The wrong format for a sales workshop is a four-hour lecture, like what too many college professors put students through and expect happy people. Salespeople should not be simply taking notes or recording a lecture on their phones. Rather, they need to be involved in the discussion and take part in role play and other exercises, so they really internalize the information being taught.

Wrong format could manifest in unnecessary travel and hotel expense as well. Do you really need to fly the entire team out to Hawaii for a sales workshop? Could you wait for a training firm to hit your city while on a multi-week tour? Or perhaps your budget only allows for virtual sales training workshops, conducted in a conference room via the internet. These can still be highly engaging, without skimping on role plays or other necessary components.

2. No follow up.

Despite the best efforts of instructors, salespeople — like all humans — retain little of what they learn the first time. This is called the Forgetting Curve. As this post from the University of Waterloo explains, and this is corroborated by many other sources and personal experience if you do not reinforce what you learn you lose it very quickly. How quickly? The article states that if you hear information once and don’t do anything else with it (hear it again, discuss it, role play it, sketch it out, etc.) you will lose 50 to 80 percent of it by the next day – and more than 95 percent of it within 30 days!

The solution is to enlist the help of sales training workshops providers who provide follow up opportunities through online learning, refresher courses, advanced training to build on earlier lessons, and personal coaching. Otherwise, your investment is going down the drain.

3. Not engaging, boring

Charisma accounts for a lot when it comes to delivering your message. People buy from those they like and trust. This includes “buying” ideas and advice. Boring speakers with no charisma can be painful to listen to, even if they have the greatest PowerPoint presentations in the world. They simply cannot engage the audience effectively and bore them. This mental tune-out means, again, wasted training dollars.

Sales training workshops should have some pizazz. We are dealing with salespeople here. Type-A, most of them. Sharp as tacks. They might resent having to sit through training when they could be out working deals and generating income. So, the training company needs to provide a charismatic speaker, some excellent audio-visual components, plenty of stories, and opportunities for interaction in order to hold the interest of an audience filled with sales professionals.

Some ways that training firms can better engage trainees:

  • Strong opening keynotes that wake up the emotional brain through humor and impact
  • Asking often how students could apply the data
  • Bringing up students to the front for demonstrations
  • Case studies related to the material being studied and its successful applications.
  • Videos showing sales techniques in use
  • A strong close, which reiterates what was learned and leaves attendees with a fire lit under them.

4. Doesn’t pre-test for aptitude

Aptitude testing should be rolled into the cost of sales training workshops as a standard item. This reveals the personality styles and emotional intelligence of the members, which directly impacts their performance in customer-facing roles. Test results inform the areas of concentration for the curricula and allow trainers to be on top of group dynamics.

Pre-testing could also save money. If test results show unsuitability for a sales role, and real-life performance confirms it, it is better to shift that employee to another position than to cross one’s fingers and pray for a miracle.

As summed up swimmingly well by Carnegie Mellon professor Taya Cohen in Strategy + Business, “From the manager’s perspective, if you understand an employee — who they are, aspects of their personality, their character — then you can use information about their personality to optimize their performance by developing individualized plans of action or individualized ways of helping them be successful.” While her piece was focused on moral character and predicting unethical behavior, the same could be said for traits known to make successful salespeople.
We know what these are, and testing reveals them in your employees and future hires. Simple as that.

5. New to running a workshop, learning on your money

New instructors have to start somewhere in order to learn. But do you want to pay for their education? If not, then hire an instructor that has delivered plenty of sales training workshops so all the kinks are ironed out by the time he or she gets to you.

Common rookie telltale signs:

  • Taking forever to set up and acting bewildered by their laptop/projector connection.
  • Not having a backup projector, dry erase markers, pens, batteries, or other supplies.
  • Failing to run things on schedule…and running out of time to present everything.
  • Unable to handle trainees who say inappropriate things, ask endless questions, or are otherwise disruptive.
  • Can not tie the material to your company specifically (no research)
  • Read from a script because they are learning the material themselves.
  • Impatient with trainees.

Sales training workshops are a necessary part of your growth plans. Hire the best firm you can afford, and run through the above to ensure they meet all the criteria for a successful training session which benefits your salespeople and your bottom line.