You can’t train people to sell…. Can you? - 26th April 2019

Salespeople are born not bred, they say (whoever ‘they’ are, they seem to say it often). You’ve either got the gift of the gab or you haven’t. Once you’ve got that, you just need to be thrown into the deep end and you’ll work out how to do it. Sink or swim. That’s the way to develop a great team. If they sell, keep ‘em, if they don’t, get ‘em out! It’s always been that way. And always will be.


In many markets, the sentiments above are largely accepted as true and there are plenty of people that seem to prove it. However, I ask you to take a step back for a moment and consider this question: Can you name any field of human endeavour in which the very best rely only on their natural ability and succeed purely on that ability?


Sport? No. Music? No. Business? No. Art? No. You can keep going if you like but you’ll keep getting the same answer. The point is not that no natural ability is required but that to be the very best you can be, you need to practise in order to make the most of your natural ability. Training – in the right format – allows that practice and makes it more likely that you (and your teams) will be as good as they can possibly be. Consistently so.


Salespeople with the ability to sell well will be at their best consistently if they also train themselves in their art. Little and often is best. Our blogs introduce a range of ways in which to do this. We also have blogs to help companies identify the types of people that are most likely to become successful in sales and show you how to maximise sales success across all your teams, not just the sales teams.


For now, I’d like to debunk three of the more prominent myths about success in sales.


First myth: “Knowledge is power.” This is, at best, only half true. If you know something but don’t use it, there’s no power in that. The use of earned knowledge is power. Without use, it’s, well, useless.


Second myth: “Training is only worthwhile if I learn some new ideas”. Training – sales or any other type for that matter – is about changes in behaviour rather than new ideas, though it can often involve both. If you leave a training session and do not change your behaviour in any way, that session was a waste of your time and money.


Third, and final, myth: “You can’t train sales because every conversation is different”. When I prepare sales teams for our training and hear this excuse, I ask them to record 20 or 30 of their sales calls, listen to them and come back to tell me if they still believe that every call is completely different. What they find is that most calls follow a certain pattern and similar information is shared again and again. Once you accept that to be true, you can prepare for much of that in advance. Not a script but a range of sales communication tools that you’re likely to use.


If you don’t accept this final premise and maintain that every call is completely different, turn your thoughts to the world of sport for a moment. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal – the world’s top 3 tennis players of the last decade – cannot possibly know what shot their opponent will play and when. Every rally, every point, every match is different. Of course it is. Does this mean they tell their coach it’s not worth practising today because you never know what’s going to happen in a match? The very idea is ludicrous when you think of tennis so why do we accept this idea when thinking about sales?!


If you’re still reading, you probably agree with the debunking of these myths (or you’re at least questioning them again) or you’re getting fuel to write a letter of protest about my thoughts. If the latter, I look forward to hearing from you. If the former, I look forward to introducing my ideas about improving sales performance, and maintaining that improvement, based around my company’s four step structure to successful selling: The EASY Sales Structure.


Our ability to move prospective clients to action is the single biggest factor behind our success. Let’s not leave that to chance. Certain natural attributes combined with regular training will always beat natural talent alone.