Guest article by Melissa Clemens, experienced Sales Leader and Writer.

As the Senior Director for a large, distributed sales team (20+ regional managers and nearly 300 sales associates), one of my most important jobs was training. Within my organization, I’d become known for my ability to bring in and develop top performers, and, as a result, I’d been put in charge of all sales training events – both new hire training as well as ongoing regional trainings. 

I had always prided myself on my ability to deliver great training programs. I spent weeks developing the agenda and curriculum, planning breakout sessions, and bringing in key executives. Having been with our company since its inception, I understood our sales processes and systems better than anyone, so who better to lead our training?  

At least that’s what I thought until I was invited to attend a sales training workshop led by Flannery Sales Systems (FSS). My “aha” moment came within the first 15 minutes. As I watched FSS “do their thing,” I realized that not only had not been delivering great training as I’d previously thought, I had actually been letting our team down. 

Here’s what I learned by watching the John and the FSS team: 

  • Training is not talking.  I may have been doing a good job talking at” our sales teams, but I was certainly not training them. Training must be much more interactive. 
  • Learning relies on self-discovery. In order to really learn, my team needed to come to key concepts on their own. The art of good training lies in fostering that discovery. 
  • Practice, practice, practice. Training is about teaching a new skill or behavior, and in order to master that, my sales associates needed a safe environment to practice and receive feedback on what they’d learned. 
  • Training shouldn’t be theoretical. Training should be specific and applicable – my sales associates had to be able to use what they’d learned right away to achieve better results. 
  • Training without process is pointless. FSS works with companies to better define and implement their sales processes.  Once trained, these skills and processes are then incorporated into the management team’s regular operating cadence. This tactical execution is critical if training is to lead to sustainable, repeatable sales growth. 

Sales leaders tend to be great sales performers, as well as great people developers. But what I learned from just one day in an FSS workshop is that most sales leaders, myself included, do not have the expertise to facilitate great training. And considering the cost of putting on a training event (travel, facilities, curriculum development, lost sales time), this is one area that companies can’t afford to get wrong. 

Although training alone does not equate to sales results, a great training platform coupled with excellent recruiting, a well-defined process, and effective leadership is critical to sales success. So, I’m grateful for my “aha” moment. I now have a new understanding of what it means to provide great sales training, and I can’t wait to bring that back to the companies for whom I now consult. I’m confident the results will follow.