I was involved in a nearly week long, on line discussion with about a half dozen other sales experts in the Top Sales Experts Group at LinkedIn that to date has included about 41 volleys. The original question, raised by the UK publisher of modernselling.com, asked whether there was a right way or a wrong way to train salespeople. While there was some agreement on some points, there was much disagreement on many points.
Most of the agreement centered around secondary factors such as multiple sales roles in larger companies and the fact that some of those roles required that only certain steps of the selling process be utilized. There was agreement around the importance of the right trainer, an adult learning model, alignment of systems, processes, strategies and selection, and the role of sales management. But, when you look closely, the areas where there was agreement only support or influence the training of salespeople - but they are not the actual training.
The major area of disagreement were over methodology. What a surprise!
One faction supports consultative selling (my Book and popular methodology, Baseline Selling, is aligned with consultative selling), while the other supports a buyer facilitation model (they call it customer-centric) which is based on trust. Now, I'm all for trust. You must have trust! Trust is an essential component of Baseline Selling. But the buyer-facilitation fanatics (very few compared with supporters of the consultative model) insist that you can't develop trust/credibility when salespeople start asking questions to uncover compelling reasons. If I had to describe the ineffective selling methods that most of my clients used before I was brought in to help, it would be so closely aligned with the buyer facilitation model that you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. And if the buyer facilitation model was so effective, why does the significant change in pipeline and revenue come from the changeover to a more consultative model?
I'm sure we'll hear about it in the comments.
I respect others' opinions on methodology - these people are experts in selling and they believe in what they are doing and saying. All good. It makes for interesting discussion. It's much like the nutrition community. One expert says low fat, low protein, lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables is the way to healthy eating. Another expert says you are fat because you are eating grains and carbohydrates so you need to eat lots of healthy protein - grass fed red meat and avoid grains and carbs. And others still say a balanced diet of all the basic food groups, yada, yada, yada.
The other major area of disagreement was over sales assessments - an area where I am the established expert. When it comes to sales assessments, I can't believe how misinformed even some of the sales experts are about this subject. Some believe they aren't accurate, others believe they are illegal, some believe that the choices in assessments are limited to $7 tests, and many have been fooled by the marketing of personality and behavioral styles assessments. If you are among those who don't know, haven't cared, haven't looked or haven't used the right assessment for your sales force and for sales selection, simply read this series of articles. It isn't that complicated! While personality and behavioral styles assessments are very much apples to apples, oranges don't have worm holes. Evaluate your sales force with the orange of the assessment industry, Objective Management Group's sales force evaluation and hire salespeople using their proprietary process and Sales Candidate Assessment and you can't go wrong.