Progress and success lies in accepting that regular sales training and reskilling of sales professionals is not a single or a one time activity, rather it is a continuous journey.
Team leaders and organisations are in denial of its importance and significance and many of them do not seem to see the accrued benefits of regular training and reskilling of sales professionals. The acceptance to reskilling or sales training journey falls in to 5 broad stages:
Stage One: Denial –
there is no requirement’. The hard truth is that all organisations face a performance plateau of their sales team, even if they don’t realise it. Every member of the team goes through this phase due to changing dynamics in the selling world and also the introduction of new sales tools and techniques at a rapid pace. Leaders and organisations are often caught up in the numbers game and tend to ignore the market signals. As numbers are still happening and there is not much struggle to achieve the same there is strong denial at very level for a need of sales training.
Stage Two: Worry –
‘let’s get the new hires and replace the old with new’. This stage sets in when the business numbers start getting impacted and the immediate reaction from the organisations and leaders is to find replacement, layoff, or throw money at the problem, along with the appointment of a new leader etc. Still training or reskilling is not in the picture as the management feels that there is enough resources and experience in the existing ecosystem to leverage
Stage three: False confidence –
‘we’re sorted, bring it on’. With new members onboard and with some cosmetic changes the management gets into a mode of “everything is now sorted”. Post pandemic systems have changed and so has selling. New tools being introduced, sales ecosystem is changing, customer has more insights into the product and probable solutions. The same old ways of selling do not work anymore and the false confidence comes crashing after few days or months with same story of non performance being repeated.
Stage Four: Hard lessons –
‘there’s no such thing as a perfect sales team’. Even the best prepared will still experience a performance gap. Even a player like Kohli needs to train daily, get the best possible coaching, work on his skills in the nets, train rigorously under experts to perform consistently when he plays for team India. This is true in any profession – be it sales or be it a sport. The successful organisations understand that if they need consistent results from the team then the only way is to train the team consistently to get the team performance back on track and keep the business growing.
Stage Five: True leadership –
‘we can’t do this alone’. True leaders will accept that this is how the performance ecosystem works – Identify the Gaps – Train the member/team basis the gap and learn new skills that are relevant – Measure the performance – finetune – Iterate and record the learnings. True leaders make training a part of the selling process and see this as an investment rather than an expense or a tick mark exercise.Collaboration and coordination becomes the hallmark in this stage.
The cold reality is that every organisation goes through this phase. Upskilling, training, reskilling is a must and whether this is done by an external mentor/trainer or an inhouse mentor/trainer doesn’t matter. And businesses which treat training and upskilling and reskilling as a part of their process will be strongly positioned to protect and grow their business in the evolving digital economy.