Everyone is taught differently when it comes to sales. Here’s a story relating to learning the wrong lessons about what it takes to close a sale.
I had just completed a keynote presentation in Manhattan on the topics of prospecting and the art of delivering powerful presentations. Being someone who embraces learning as a lifestyle, I’m always interested in receiving feedback from my audience. And, like I typically do at the end of every seminar I deliver, I graciously requested that each person take a moment to complete the evaluation form on the last page of the handbook I created for them. As they were completing their evaluations, I began packing up my bag to head home. A group of people approached me after my seminar with some questions.
By the time I finished coaching them around their biggest sales challenges, the majority of the audience had made their way out of the auditorium. I began walking through the auditorium, collecting the remaining evaluation forms that people left on their chairs. A young woman approached me and asked if I had a moment to talk. “Of course,” I responded.
Her name was Lucy. She was a recent college graduate and had just changed jobs, taking a sales position with a jewelry design company in Manhattan.
“First, I have to thank you so much for your seminar. It was absolutely fantastic and exactly what I needed to hear.”
“Well, thank you so much for your kind words, Lucy. It sounds as if we both got what we needed to hear today,” I responded smiling.
“No Keith, you don’t understand,” Lucy said. “Do you want to know how I was trained in my first sales job right out of college? You wouldn’t believe it.”
Sales Training Catastrophe
“It was my fist job as a salesperson. I’ve never sold anything before. I got a job working for a well known and well respected jewelry designer in California. During the interviewing process, the owner of the company told me they would provide sales training, which was something I clearly expressed that I definitely needed.
Well, it’s the first day on the job. As part of my training, I was scheduled to meet with my sales manager and spend the day with him. What an experience. We spent about half the day together, going from one appointment to the next. This provided me with the opportunity to learn more about the company and silently observe his style of selling to see how a sales call should be conducted.
When we got back to the office, I thought we would take some time to review what had occurred throughout the day. You know, go over each sales call and discuss what happened so that I could learn from them. Afterwards, I figured we would do more one to one training. Well, that wasn’t exactly what happened.
Instead, he takes a DVD out from his desk drawer. It was the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross. ‘Here, take this movie. Watch and study this movie and the salespeople in it a few times when you go home tonight,’ he ordered. ‘This movie will teach you everything you will ever need to know about selling and how to sell.’ Oy.”
Exception vs. the Norm
While this sales manager’s “training program” may be more of an exception than the norm, the unfortunate truth is, the norm isn’t that far removed from how this sales manager trains his salespeople.
Here’s a very safe bet. Whether you’re a manager or a salesperson; don’t rely on the company to provide you with the tools, training, support and coaching you need to succeed in your position and in your career. Just ask any top producer and they will tell you they did not rely solely on the annual Sales Conference or weekly meeting for developing the skills and strategies needed to become a sales champion.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to find the resources, guidance and the support you need to achieve your career goals. And if you are fortunate enough to work for a company who offers some type of training, continue to challenge what you learn, as well as your own conventional wisdom and beliefs, to ensure you don’t continually learn the wrong lessons.