At the start of my sales career, I had lots of sales training. It started with a six-week residential course, then four weeks of selling experience on territory, before returning to the training centre for a further three weeks.
The most significant thing I learned was that “customers don’t buy your products and services because of what they are, but for what they will do for the customer”. So stop talking about the product’s features and focus on the benefits to the customer.
At the time, I knew that this sales training was essential. It was one of the key reasons why I took the job. However, I didn’t realise that sales training would become my career.
Sales Training in 1985
It was way back in the mid-1980s that we started our business: “Peter Button Associates - Industrial Sales Training”. By this time, I’d been selling for a couple of years. I realised that most salespeople I met had not been trained to sell. So how hard could it be for me to become a sales trainer?
So I bought my secondhand Audi 100 to look the part, and I had some business cards and stationery designed and printed. I began to knock on the doors of the units in the local industrial estates. My first client was Bridgestone Tyres. I remember vividly the first training course that I led with their team. I was especially proud of the transparent acetate strips I used on the overhead projector to make the presentation more dynamic!
In one of the sales conferences I ran with Bridgestone, a highlight was when we gave all the sales team members their own personalised A5 leather ring binder. The sales team could have the current price list alongside their diary pages at all times!
What a different world
There is a world of difference between the tools I have available today and what I used at the start of my sales training career.
Here we are in 2022, over 35 years later, and I am about to launch all of the elements of the Sales Reset Community of Practice:
- We can bring people together online for real-time practice sessions.
- Members can access our best practice knowledge base 24/7 from their phones.
- We have automated the delivery of short-form video training.
- Members of our community can track progress with their Learning and Earning Plans in their accountability dashboards.
But the fundamental challenges remain
So we’re in a fundamentally different world in terms of tech. But the biggest sales training challenges have not changed at all:
- Salespeople still spend far too much time talking about their products and services.
- It is as hard as ever for salespeople to empathise with their customers and engage with customers’ perspectives and priorities.
- Sales Managers continue to pursue quantity of sales activity as opposed to quality.
new vision, fresh start
It’s taken over 35 years of my sales training career to get to this point. The launch of Sales Reset is a really big step. In another blog post, I’ll outline why it’s taken seven years to implement our decision to develop our online community.
I am enormously excited about what we’re about to achieve within the Sales Reset Community of Practice. It will be brilliant to play our part in putting measurable customer success at the heart of selling.