The following was my most popular post on WordPress in 2014. With some edits I’m reposting it and would appreciate your feedback regarding a real case.
“I’d like you to send me a proposal for two days’ training for a small, new sales team that my firm is putting in place. Can you do that please and send me a training outline.”
Caller is head of Training for a large firm in the financial services sector. We’ve never met. I was referred by a client. Hey! That’s prescribing before diagnosing. Malpractice!
“Thanks for thinking of me; but could we meet for a few minutes so that I could get a clearer understanding of the situation and the problem that you want to solve?”
“That’s ok; but we are pretty well organised and two days sales training should do the job. So how about sending me a programme outline and your costing?”
It’s our first meeting and after pleasantries we get down to business. “How does this training fit into your sales plan?”
“Well, we don’t have a sales plan. But this new sales team that we have just created has a target to meet, and they need to be trained. They need to go out to meet higher-level professionals, make a sales pitch, handle any objections and generate new business.”
“Could you tell me about this new team. Did you have sales in mind when they were hired?”
“No, but they were very good at their jobs. Get along well with customers. They’re good. Just need some sales training, especially in closing techniques”
I’m trying to find out if they have the ego-drive, empathy, and yes, the personality to go out and engage professionals whom they’ve ‘never met before and successfully sell to them. And then there’s the matter of sales management. Who will supervise this new sales team? What relevant training or experience does this person have. None it turns out. But they have an MBA in finance and a deep understanding of the firm’s core business.
So now I’m wondering. For starters these people may not have the disposition. Only two days’ sales training? No prior experience in sales? Manager with no experience in sales? What’s the probability of these people, all new to sales, meeting their targets in a fiercely competitive environment and an economy that has seen no growth for years? Hmmmmmhhh.
The training manager and I are smiling at each other: but for different reasons. They are offering good money. Her concern is conducting a certain number of days’ training before the year ends. My concern is enhancing my reputation for transforming sales teams. How about you? Would you take this job?
Herman Alvaranga is president of the Caribbean School of Sales Management.