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The Best Advice When Hiring A Sales Trainer/Coach

This month I wanted to break from the normal sales strategy focus and talk about one of the most common and consistent things that comes up when organizations hire outside sales trainers. Whether they do it once a year as part of an annual sales meeting, or every few years at their office, the most common problem that I hear, is that the sales trainer did not meet expectations. And this is where the best and most important advice when hiring a sales team trainer/coach comes in.

Talk with and get the sales success resume of the actual sales coach/trainer that will be working with your team, prior to hiring them/the firm. Often, the person selling the sales training will not be the one providing it. And, did you know that the vast majority of sales trainers/coaches have never had elite or even lasting successful sales careers?

Most trainers work for large franchises, with up to hundreds of locations and thousands of trainers. And what percentage of people are actually the best and elite at what they do? 1%? 2%? If you want the best and most effective sales team training, invest your training dollars in the best individual trainer/coach. Only those capable of consistently closing the deals that they are training your team on, should be training them. First, because they will have the successful insight to help them succeed. And second, because your team will only fully buy into the training if they believe that the person coaching/training them is qualified to teach them sales success.

As I travel the country working with sales teams, I regularly hear stories from prospect experiences. I recently completed a training with a company that explained that their previous trainer (from a well-known firm) started the training by blowing up a large beach ball, rolling it across the room and saying, “Now let's get the ball rolling!” Their training with them did not go well. I just had another conversation with a prospect on LinkedIn (abridged below):

Prospect: Hey Jason - we just did some sales training with X (well-known firm), ultimately picking them over XX (well-known firm). Do you have some information comparing & contrasting your approach to others?

Me: Hi X, thank you for your reply… The disadvantage with both (other) firms is that they are so large that they typically provide you with hired trainers that aren’t or weren’t elite salespeople. They train them on sales to train your team on sales and could not consistently close the deals that they are training on. The trainer, their experience and success at sales is the most important part. Sales philosophy/program is next and that can be discussed in advance with the trainer before hiring them. Hiring sales training is like choosing the large franchise (McDonald's) or a boutique restaurant with a great chef.

Prospect: Thank you, Jason. Your point resonates - there was a marked gap between those who were selling the training and those actually doing the classes which was frankly disappointing. Let me bring this back to my group...

The best sales coaches/trainers are current and or former elite salespeople with a strong and proven sales team training program. My advice is to not accept any less.

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