In Sales: Everything Old is New Again!

In Sales: Everything Old is New Again!

I was packing up after speaking at a corporate event on Championship Selling when a member of the audience, Dale, approached me asking if I had a few minutes to answer some questions.

Dale was in sales and had been with the company for about 6 months. Prior to this Dale had been in a sales role with another company for 9 years. As we talked about my presentation I could sense that there was something else on Dale’s mind so I asked, “Dale, what is it that’s troubling you?”

Almost without thinking Dales responded, “I am having a really tough time. I have a lot of experience and have had success in the past but these past 6 months have been a challenge. I’m working hard, and trying to emulate some of the other successful salespeople in this company, but my results just aren’t where they need to be. I’m not sure what the problem is and I’m getting concerned for my job”.

I thanked Dale for being candid and took a minute to respond. “Dale, have you been involved in sales training in your career?”

Dale looked at me and laughed. “Of course I have. It seems that as a salesperson I am always getting exposed to sales training. It really helped me early in my career but I don’t think I need it now. I’m tired of sitting through the latest and greatest training course. I would rather be spending that time out selling. No offense of course!”

It was my turn to laugh. “No offense taken and in fact, I agree with you.” This really took Dale by surprise so I went on to explain myself in detail.

As we progress in experience and maturity in a role our confidence naturally grows. We are continually looking to “take things to the next level” and look for tips and tricks to help us achieve success. In our hunt for the next big thing we get exposed to lots of different approaches and ideas. The risk in this is that, over time, we forget about the fundamentals. When I agreed with Dale that sitting through the latest and greatest training course wouldn’t be of value I wasn’t saying that training wasn’t necessary. The key is on what are we training?

Like any stable house, sales excellence is based on a strong foundation. As salespeople mature they sometimes forget to focus on the fundamentals that made them successful. There is an urge to skip over key steps in the sales process to “make it my own”. Following a process ensures that results are consistent and repeatable. At Optimé our Championship Selling process is designed to focus on the fundamentals of sales to drive disciplined, winning sales execution.

Dale and many other salespeople don’t need to be trained on more content. They just need help refocusing on the fundamentals of selling. As I shared my thoughts with Dale I could see the light bulb turn on. Dale thanked me and said, “I’m going to head home and pull out some of my first sales training manuals to review them. And I’m going to recommend to my manager that they should bring you guys in to run a program for all of our salespeople. I know we could all use it!”

8 months later, after running our Champions Edge Selling Program for the entire company, I received a phone call from Dale, “I just want to say thanks for shoring up my selling foundation! My sales numbers have increased significantly and I’m feeling a lot more confident using my sales process. Thank you.”

Lessons learned

Many organizations tend to look at the development of their people tactically, that is they run events or courses based on “what’s hot” in training. While there can be value in this the challenge is always in how to sustain the value over the long-term. Many people we speak with can talk about training they have been involved in yet a majority of them have a hard time explaining the long-term impact that training has had on them. In our opinion it takes a program approach to truly effect change, and content built on fundamental skills to support this.