stock business meeting

Being a sales trainer is a lonely job and it is slowly becoming a dying profession. Over the last 35 years, I have had the joy of being able to help people become better trained with respect to their profession in sales. The information provided has helped them look at their occupation differently, and hopefully made people understand that to become great at something takes time, knowledge, practice and the desire to excel.

The problems were there from the start. Salespeople do not want to be trained. More than 90% of the entire sales force in the United States has never read a book or even attended a sales class, yet they want to call themselves professionals. Even in the 1980s, you had to convince companies it was important to train their salespeople.

Today, fewer and fewer companies offer any kind of sales training – and just having an annual meeting and talking about sales is not training. So many companies think that bringing in a speaker to their meeting will be the answer to training their sales force.

As they say, “Not gonna happen.”

Here is the amazing part. If there was a seminar offered at almost any company, or even open to salespeople to attend at a public event, hardly anyone would show up. The people who would be there would be either the top performers who understand the importance of knowledge, and those who take their professions seriously. Maybe even some younger people who just graduated college and want to accelerate their career would show up. That is still only the 3%. Most salespeople think, “Hey, I don’t need this. I am doing just fine. In fact, I am really good at this because I talk a good game.”

We sales trainers are the enemy in most cases – the one person who the sales rep does not want to meet or get to know. We are the inconvenience to their day and the last individual they want to spend time with. I am talking about the norm, not all. There are some great salespeople.

Here are a couple examples of those who have the desire to raise their bar.

Example No. 1: A person who loves golf is usually willing to take a golf lesson and spend an evening or a weekend day with a golf professional to help adjust their swing, hit out of the sand with better accuracy or sink longer putts. They are thrilled to spend their money on this endeavor.

Example No. 2: An amateur musician who loves to play piano, guitar, saxophone, drums or any instrument, and who wants to join a band and further their hobby, will sign up for music lessons.

I find it so humorous that people who want to be better at their hobbies will seek out knowledge and professionals who can guide them. In addition, by practicing the lessons taught, they can be better at whatever they are trying to master.

Not so with their profession of selling. People think they got it and do not need any type of training. Yes, sales is a profession. Yes, selling correctly takes knowledge and the skills must be taught, learned and practiced in order to be a top sales professional.

Next time you are on the golf course and you hit a bad shot, think about the best golfers and what their coaches would have them do.


Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.

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Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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