Sales and Sales Management Blog

June 29, 2007

What’s Hype and What’s Not–Selecting Sales Training

Filed under: prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 1:52 pm

A couple of days ago a friend and I were discussing the issues salespeople and companies have in selecting outside sales training.  It certainly isn’t a new subject.  I’m often asked with so many calling themselves sales trainers, how do you know who has training of value and who doesn’t?

A very legitimate question and one that, like everything else in sales, requires some work and investigation on the part of the salesperson or the company to make a reasoned decision on who to hire or whose seminars to attend, books to buy, and CD’s to invest in.   

Here are some ideas on how you can make rational decisions about where to invest your training dollars: 

Read their articles:  Most quality sales trainers have articles they have written posted on their web site, published in various internet and print publications, and on their blog.  Spend some time reading their articles.  Do they have quality information, techniques and strategies?  On the other hand, are they just parroting the same old tired stuff? 

Who published their book?  If they have a book, is it published by one of the major business publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Wiley and Sons, Kaplan, Warner Books, Entrepreneur Press or another of the major publishers?  There are many good books published by smaller publishers and even good books that are self-published, but the major publishers are very, very picky.  As a general rule, if a major publisher publishes them, take a look at them.  This is NOT to say that the major publishers don’t publish junk on occasion—they do.  It is simply to say, if one of the big boys has published them, they are probably worth looking into more deeply. 

Where are their articles published?  Are they only on their web site and on the massive internet article sites?  Or, are they published in quality internet and print publications such as Selling Power, various industry publications like Advisor Today, Registered Rep, REALTOR, EyesOnSales, MarketingProfs, RainToday and other industry publications?  Again, this shouldn’t eliminate non-published trainers, but these publications are fussy and seek to publish the best information they can.  Consequently, those who are published in industry publications probably have something of value to say.   

Does their website give value or just hype?  Most quality trainers will have quality information available on their sites, not just hype about how great they are.  Is the trainer offering value on their site?  If they are, then look further.  If it’s all hype, look elsewhere.  If their website is content rich, their training probably is also.  If their site is all hype, expect the same from their training. 

Do their training claims make sense?  Are they offering “easy” ways to “work less”  or “get rich”?  If their claims don’t make sense, their training won’t either.  There isn’t an easy, quick, work less way of selling.  Sales is a highly active, intense profession that takes a great deal of skill and commitment to become a top producer.  So, is the trainer telling you the truth about what it takes to be successful—or just what you want to hear to pry some of your dollars out of your pocket? 

Do they give value in their free stuff?  If they have free tele-seminars, e-books, or other materials, do they actually give real training value—or are they just a come-on for their paid products?  This doesn’t mean that they don’t advertise their paid products in these items, they have to make a living and the fact they advertise in something they give away shouldn’t be an issue for anyone.  However, when they do give away something, it should itself have real value.  If it’s just fluff or a come-on, that should be a warning sign. 

Are their charges reasonable?  Is the price reasonable for the product you’re buying?  This doesn’t’ mean that all one-hour CD’s should cost the same.  You’re not buying the cost of the CD; you’re buying the value of the information on the CD.  But if you’ve paid $89 for a great CD from a trainer you know, shouldn’t you think twice about paying $395 for a one-hour CD from someone you’ve never heard of before?  Most quality training CD’s will be priced between $20 and $99.  Sets can go from $89 to a few hundred dollars.  Tele-seminars will go anywhere from $39 to $149.  Quality e-books from $10 to 40.  If you’re looking at prices above that, think carefully. 

Training or Motivation?  There is a difference.  Some motivational speakers put out “training” tapes that are nothing more than motivational hype.  This, again, isn’t to say that real sales training can’t be motivational.  It should be.  But are you buying real training that motivates you, or are you just buying excitement?  There is a proper place for both—just know what you’re buying.

Do They Participate in Internet Forums?  If they particpate in internet forums, are their posts designed to give good, solid, informative answers, or are they just teasing to try to get you to pay for their products?  If a trainer addresses an issue on a forum, they should address it, not hint that they have an answer–and if only you’ll buy their books, and products you’ll find it.  Of course, they participate in hopes of finding new customers, but that doesn’t negate their obligation to particiapte honestly in the forum.  Fishing for customers is less than honest–a sign that their training might be also.

I constantly hear horror stories of salespeople being ripped off with very costly—and useless “training.”  Seminars that are a total waste of time, e-books costing $97 that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, CD sets selling for $895 that have a good 5 minutes worth of actual training on them.   

Unfortunately, companies get caught in the same traps.  They spend thousands for someone to come and give motivation and no training, or whose hype is about how they have the greatest sales training in the world that will revolutionize the company, just to find out that they’re giving the same old stuff they could have gotten from their new salespeople.   

There are great sales trainers out there.  There are also some real scam artists.  You don’t have to be caught by the scammers.  Just do some homework and you’ll be able to tell who’s worth spending your money with and who isn’t.

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