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The Truth About Sales Training

by Bruce Lewolt on August 26, 2016

Research on how a salesperson’s core temperament influences their approach to learning shows that they fall the following learner types.

  1. Deliberate
  2. Competitive
  3. Distracted

This Blog article explains how to design sales training for each of the three types along with the single most important thing to know about sales training.

Deliberate: These are the people who did well in school because they felt an internal compulsion to do what they were expected to do. Therefore, from an early age they did their homework, studied for tests and completed assignments. Most curriculum developers and almost all designers of Learning Management Systems (LMS) fall into this category. Unfortunately, these people find it tough to understand the other two learner types. Therefore, they often design courses that only work for salespeople who share their Deliberate Learning Type. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of salespeople fall into the category of deliberate learner.

Competitive: Generally, this type of learner also does well in school. However, their primary motivation for completing school work is to achieve goals and outcompete others. This type will instantly stop using an online learning system and tune out of live training if they don’t see a direct connection to helping them increase sales and reach goals. They hate one-size-fits-all training that forces them to endure lessons on topics they have already mastered.

While the Competitive type is common in salespeople, it is far more common in senior sales leaders. This might explain why VP’s of sales tend to like sales competitions and gamification far more than the average salesperson. If you do use gamification, make sure most of the points are earned by demonstrating mastery and not by merely completing tasks. Otherwise, the Competitive Types will focus all their attention of earning points and winning, which has been shown to divert the brain’s attention away from learning. The result is lots of time and money wasted without any increases in sales performance.

Distracted – The largest percentage of salespeople fall into this category. This learner type always has the best intentions and is excited at the start of training; however, their natural tendencies to multitask and overload their schedule, along with how easily they are distracted, prevents them from logging into learning systems on a consistent basis. On the other hand, they find live training to be so unstimulating that they quickly start a game out of texting friends without being caught by the instructor.

The Distracted type often prides themselves on their ability to outsmart online learning systems and pass exams with the least amount of actual work. This means that they don’t learn anything, yet they are the first to say that the sales strategies taught in the course don’t work.

To succeed with the Distracted learner type, think about trying to talk to someone in a noisy room where you have to raise your voice, so it stands out above the other voices. This means no-excuses accountability and a motivation system that uses both carrot and stick in just the right portions to ensure the work gets done and the salesperson masters all the course content. 

The Single Most Important Thing To Know About Sales Training:

The most important thing with all three learner types is to eliminate the post-test as the measure of course completion. Let’s face it – prospects don’t ask multiple choice questions. Also, post tests are too easy to pass without actually mastering the course content. Instead use real world simulations or an evaluation of how well each salesperson is using the material taught in the course on actual sales calls. Then tell the sales managers that they will be held personally accountable for the learning success of their salespeople.

If you make these requirements clear up front, the first response will be massive complaining to test your resolve. However, once it is clear that you won’t accept anything less than the demonstration of true mastery, they will buckle down, complete the course, sales performance will increase, and you will earn a huge return on your investment in training.

In all fairness, you shouldn’t implement these requirements unless your learning system is capable of doing the following things.

  1. Replace  one-size-fits-all course design with personalized courses for each salesperson. This should be accomplished through the use of an intelligent assessment to figure out what each salesperson already knows and what they need to learn.
  2. Building personalized practice items like study questions and real world verbal simulations along with a personalized practice schedule that ensures each salesperson reaches mastery.
  3. Informs sales managers on a daily basis of who is making adequate progress in their courses and who needs extra motivation.
  4. A gamification system that adjusts to the three types of learners and gives points for mastery, not completing tasks.
  5. An automated system for using real world verbal simulations or actual call evaluations to determine if a salesperson has truly mastered the course material and their behavior has changed.
  6. A system that lets senior leadership know in real-time how much actual learning is taking place, so they don’t have to wait till courses are scheduled to be completed before knowing if everyone is doing what they should be doing.
  7. Finally, a system that helps managers use information about each salesperson’s core temperament to improve coaching effectiveness.

 The BrainX system does all of these things and much more.

Topics: Sales Training