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Does your sales organization train like a garbage company?


Sales Team Training Tips

Verne Harnish has a great new book, Scaling Up, where many examples of best practices are discussed on how to scale your business rapidly and profitably.

Of course, Chapter Five, which focuses on training and on-boarding, really grabbed my attention. Harnish shares stories of several companies using training and development as their competitive weapon to create fast growth companies.

One such company is City Bin Co. located in Galway, Ireland. The CEO, Gene Browne, created an internal training program titled, “Garbage University.” Every two weeks, from September to May, three hours of training are delivered to his team. Did the training investment pay off? Well, the company’s revenues grew by 100% and the company earned Deloitte’s Best Managed Company award in 2009, 2010, and 2011. That math works for me.

So let’s address the elephant in the room. There is plenty of evidence that training and development of people yields a high return on investment. So what prevents sales organizations from implementing this proven strategy for growth?  Sales managers are stuck in the tyranny of the urgent. To use emotional intelligence terms, the sales manager has low impulse control and gives into the pull of instant gratification.

In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey discusses the challenges and consequences of instant gratification through his Quadrant I and II model. Most sales managers get stuck in Quadrant I, doing activities which Covey describes as Urgent and Important (Instant Gratification). These activities range from fire-fighting, proposal writing or attending endless internal meetings. Quadrant II activities are defined as Not Urgent and Important (Delayed Gratification). These activities include training and development, relationship building, planning and preparation.

Sales managers look at training and development and “see” the amount of time and dollars required to improve a salesperson’s emotional intelligence and influence skills. What they don’t “see” as clearly is the hours of wasted time and missed revenue because their sales team isn’t properly trained. The team might be busy, but not very productive.

Apply the EI skill of reality testing to adjust your thinking and actions. Add up the number of hours your salespeople are wasting because of poor business development skills. Add up the dollars wasted writing proposals for prospects that are never going to buy.

Do the math. Is it time to start training like a garbage company?

Good Selling!

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