I bumped into a neighbour of my sales team’s London office who sell NLP-type training (Rebecca and Rachel) and we got chatting on their industry and the lack of funds people put aside to train their people.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development is their professional body, and I’d heard of them recently as they’d just opened a swanky £12m building in Wimbledon. It turns out that in their latest ‘state of the nation’ industry report, they found that the average amount of cash spent each year per employee on training was just £607.
That’s not a lot. I remember around 2003 sitting in on a training course with a bloke from Tack International who, aside from his personal shortcomings on the training front and lack of sales savvy, did make one worthwhile observation; that his firm reckoned only 1½ days a year were given to the typical rep in training.
And I recall my very first formal training. A Welshman that my sales director rated highly called Wynn Rees said he could give me a one-on-one for a day and give me the basics for around £800 (this was back in the early 90s). Yet to squeeze more value out the day, my boss decided to include about half-a-dozen other reps. Although Wynn was great value, this wasn’t the approach I’d recommend, as the older guys took the micturate a touch thinking it was beneath them. And at around £100 a pop, did it really progress them? I don’t reckon so.
In my quest for knowledge on the embryonic sales software marketplace in the mid-90s, I read a book (can’t remember what it was as some bugger pinched it from me!) that spoke about linking ‘development’ into software so that task-related elements could be reinforced by systems. It was pretty interesting stuff, and ten years later, in Val D’Isere a CEO of Huthwaite got all excited telling me about how he was putting this in place for ‘spin’. I bet firms are paying more than six hundred quid per person on this….
I try and do constant development with my guys, objection handling role play on the way to meetings at the obvious level, personal tactics to employ and so on further up the ladder. I’ve seen many firms employ their own ‘sales ops’ guys, and I’ve seen others try and turn sales managers into ‘sales coaches’. I’ve seen neither work. They fail as the ‘coach’ is not at the permanent call of the rep, hasn’t clear and agreed guidelines for development areas agreed, lets ego get in the way, doesn’t reinforce the message on a frequent enough basis, and can’t prove where their efforts have brought about improvement.