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What has your experience been with external sales trainers?

A lot of sales leaders I talk to are sceptical of most sales trainers. They either lack the industry experience or they feel they are too distant from the challenges their sellers face.

What do you think? Do you feel the same or have you had positive experiences with external trainers? If so, why did you decide to work with them?

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    • I think if that’s the case, both sales leader and sales trainer did a poor job with discovery and solution. Speaking from more than 10 years experience as a sales leader and an additional 10+ years as sales trainer.

      • Thank you @bizdoctor. Have you come across more scepticism even before the initial conversation with a sales leader? Do you find that sales leaders are resisting even taking a call/meeting?

    • Profile picture of William Lacey
      @wlacey
      ( 420 POINTS )
      1 month, 2 weeks ago

      As a Sales Director and coach, sales trainers can add a lot of value to a sales person’s skills. Sales people should understand that like any other craft you constantly need to practice and learn to get better and should be open to receiving feedback. Athletes don’t stop practicing when they hit the major leagues….they run the same play over and over until it’s muscle memory for game time. A sales conversation isn’t a great place to practice. That’s where training sessions and roleplays come in. If the concerns with an external trainer are lack of industry experience then research trainers that are within or have worked in the industry. There are tons of sales trainers out there and you will most likely be able to find one that is industry specific. I’ve learned from sales trainers within my industry and ones outside…sometimes getting a different view of a challenge can help you get more creative to overcome it.

      • That was very helpful @wlacey. I agree that sales, like any profession, required constant improvement and updates. I also agree that there is a lot of value in learning from outside your “domain”. That is where innovation occurs.

    • You get what you put in. I can tell you that the trainers I’ve spoken to *can* help (me), and if I’m too distracted to be serious about it and not directed in my approach then I’m going to get nada. In fact, I think this is exactly like signing up for a personal trainer at the gym — they definitely know stuff and can bring value. You can leverage them in a lot of different ways. The question is just — will you?

      I’ll give another anecdote — I just had some elective repair work done from ski & sports injuries. I have to rebuild muscle from the surgery, it’s a big deal. So, in theory, I can leverage a physical therapist, right? But, I’m super super motivated to go outside and be a dummy (I mean, play hard). I can’t just sign on with any therapist program, that’s geared for a broader swath of people who are just “phoning in” or some such. I need a ninja who is going to help me when I’m pushing hard and knows how to make sure I don’t screw up.

      Hope that helps a little. GL.

      • That does help @wdgreene. It seems clear that you value coaching and pushing yourself in order to grow. Do you feel that most sales professionals share your approach? I know that is a very general question, but what do you see?

        I hope your recovery from your surgery goes well and you are back in top form soon.

    • Hey Moeed,

      Part of my work technically falls under ‘sales trainer’, and from my perspective a sales leaders skepticism has some merit. It of course depends on the person and what trainer / company they hired, but oftentimes the bad taste leftover comes from the trainer / company parachuting in with their patented methodology, not seeing the job through, then if it doesn’t work it is the company’s responsibility for failing to implement properly.

      That reason is why in my process I work to do the opposite. We use my framework but then I stick with the team to implement and coach off of it through ongoing call reviews.

      Industry experience and being too distant does come up, however most leaders recognize that their own issue is being too deeply embedded and too close to things to really take an honest look with fresh eyes.

      Hope this helps!

      Raj

      • That most certainly helps @rajnation. I too saw that a big part of why new training does not have the long-term impact is due to the fact that those trainers leave after the training sessions. I too include an extensive coaching element to my programs to ensure that both sales professionals don’t fall into bad habits when the pressure is high and also help heir sales managers support the application of the new methodologies.

        I see that you work with entrepreneurs. How do they respond to you when you approach them for the first time, particularly those who may not know you?

        • i’m not sure I follow your question, can you clarify?

          • Profile picture of Moeed Amin
            @moeedamin
            ( 1.1k POINTS )
            1 week, 3 days ago

            When you approach entrepreneurs about your training program, how do they respond to your outreach and your offer for how you can help them? Are they initially sceptical? Do they immediately see the value? Do they believe that sales skills is not that important to their growth and they are more focused on developing their products and services? Basically, how do they respond to your offer for sales training?

            • Ah I see now. I mentioned before that part of my work falls under sales training, but my offering is not straight up sales training. So I’m actually not leading with that. My lead is messaging, narrative development, and demo call improvements. Embedded within that is sales training, but I’m not pitching them on hiring a sales trainer per-se.

              Another thing that’s important to point out is it depends on the stage of company. Typically when it’s still founder-led sales they won’t invest in sales training because they believe they can figure it out themselves. That’s a different viewpoint than looking at your team and seeing poor results — the founder wants to provide them with a solution

    • Profile picture of Brian Pauley
      @gssa
      ( 310 POINTS )
      1 month, 2 weeks ago

      In my nearly 30 years of experience selling, leading sellers, or running Sales Operations and selecting sales training firms, it is rarely the training. It is, nearly 100% of the time the failure to focus more on making sure the sales leaders have the ability to coach to the skills and behaviors the training is advocating. Typically the trainers are GREAT at what they do, however, they leave for the next class. Your leaders have to OWN what their folks are being trained on. If they don’t buy-in, you wasted your $$. This is a leadership and focus issue, in my experience.

      • Totally agree @gssa. A lot of the time, those sales leaders don’t take part in the training programs. They therefore don’t have a comprehensive grasp of what is being taught and therefore aren’t able to support and coach their direct reports as they go back in the field.

        As a sales trainer, how have you been able to get sales leaders engaged in your training programs?

      • Profile picture of William Lacey
        @wlacey
        ( 420 POINTS )
        1 month, 2 weeks ago

        Making sure the sales leaders have a follow up plan to continue the coaching is an excellent point. In the past I worked for a large organization and when there was a big change to implement in regards to our sales process, the training started from the VP level down. That way everyone was bought into the new process and understood what was needed to continue the new practices.

    • I’ve seen some poor trainers usually an outdated sales process or just kind of phoning it in – or more motivational speaker than real information, but that being said – if you read Chris Voss, try out salesprocess.io, visit Gong, Steli Efti, Marc Wayshak – there’s an awful lot of really good information out there and you’re not going to pick all that up through trial and error.

    • I think it depends a lot on the type of “sales trainer” you’re talking about. There’s a lot of sales programs out there that, in my opinion, are a lot of money for very little bang. However, trainers who know your service, your industry, and your customers are absolutely invaluable.

      What kind of trainers do you mean?

      • Thank you @sandelliott.

        My conversation didn’t have any specific sales trainers in mind. It was generally sales trainers who can help SDRs and sellers improve their performance. Are you seeing more demand or desire for a particular type of sales trainer?

    • I think that the Sales Leaders are unsure a lot of the times because of the commitment it will take to do the change! It is not easy!
      One time, the company I worked with brought in an outside sales consultant. It was supposed to be a “top down” approach, everyone from the CEO on down to the Sales Coordinators. Everybody. When it came down to it, day 3 or 4 of our weeklong event, absolutely 0 sales leaders showed up for the training- not one. Not one. This person that trained us is an industry leader with lots of relevant experience, real world advice, an avalanche of actionable items- he is a genius. However, because the sales people had seen this before, they knew there was no real commitment from senior leadership, and nothing was going to change. The notebooks everybody got were tossed into the garbage can as you exited the conference room, even more inside the trash cans and piled everywhere outside the facilities. It was a very expensive training session. Myself and a couple of other tried to carry on when we got back to the office. Without everybody on the same page, nothing is ever going to work.
      I do think that if EVERYONE (especially Senior Leadership leading the way) has to commit, and it has to be a continual effort, then yes, it is well worth it! Find the appropriate person/ company that you feel can advance your team and get after it! However, if nobody wants to truly commit to change, then just keep doing it the way it has always been.
      Cheers!

      • Thank you @mackybradley. I want to make sure I understood what you said. Did the sales leaders stop going to the training because they felt no need or because of something else? Are you also saying that the salespeople didn’t bother because they saw that sales leaders were not going to change?

    • Profile picture of mike bentley
      @mikeb
      ( 210 POINTS )
      1 month, 2 weeks ago

      I think all sales leaders follow certain trainers that put out regular marketing content. This content often gives you a very good idea if you think there methodologies and mindset aligns with what your already doing for coaching as the sales leader. The training gives you a system/process/ methodology that you can coach to. It becomes the sales process you adopt and is easily transferred to new hires. It gives a common process and language that the entire team uses and you can track progress with. If you have this all in house and you have time to own it, lucky you. I know I don’t know everything. This investment when chosen wisely can be transformational

    • Personally I have used Factor 8 in the past and they were amazing. They took the time to understand our specific organization and needs before they ever came onsite. They had put together customer playbooks for our organization, reviewed the principles with us and then set us free to apply them over the phone. And you know what, all of a sudden it was like catching fish in a barrel.

      Not only do they provide incredible training for reps but for sales leaders as well. I would highly recommend them or looking into a sales trainer that provides the same level of personalization.

    • Personally I’ve used John Barrows- it was a great experience. Perfect for prospecting- BDR team & AE’s who self prospect. John also puts on a great show- the team loved him and I’m confident he would be a good remote experience.

    • I have been using different sales trainers in my team when I was a team leader. After collaborating different sales trainer I must say, I’m much smarter of making choices. It’s not only lack the industry experience but real experience in general.
      1 background: Who has experience of being salesperson more than 10 years and knows how it really works, and there are who has only a few years of experience but have lots of theory. (from a podcast, books, etc.) 2. knows how to coach others.
      One of my mistakes, one trainer was good at sales, good results and recommendations from management but not that good at teaching, sharing wisdom and know-how.
      And I have been a sales coach and mentor, I know it is not that easy to put all your experiences on a paper and share wisdom, but I really appreciate salespeople who have experience and want to share their struggles, success tools and tips.

    • HI,

      of course sales trainers can added value in your structure, but is importante to do a pre-work before the training.

      (1) Does the company has experience in your market / product ?
      (2) Which is the pre-requirements for this training ?
      (3) Define goals for your team about this training
      (4) Explain to your team the scope and reinforce the investment (time and costs)

      So, this is the minimum to start a training.

      On the other hand, the company must added best practices, tools and methodology and after the training sessions is important a follow-up 3 months later o measure the improvements.

      My 2 cents.

      Regards.

      Antonio Carlos Machado

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