The success of a sales training initiative is based on multiple considerations as noted in my prior blog posts: How to Choose the Best Sales Training Company 4 Key Factors to Create a Sales Training Program That Delivers Results In reflecting on these posts, I quickly realized that not all criteria carry equal weight and that the “X-Factor” that makes for an outstanding training program is the facilitator.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella often speaks of how his career – and his company – have been shaped by empathy. He views it as a quality to be consciously cultivated, practiced, and applied – “not just as something nice to have, but as the core to the innovation agenda in the company.” He believes empathy can be a differentiator when working with clients. Empathy is the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s position and understand their situation. It’s the capacity to feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference. It’s not always easy to do.
How do you prepare for a meeting with a CXO or other important executive? A friend of mine who is a senior investment banker at a major Wall Street firm once told me, “I prepare for each meeting like it’s the Super Bowl.” My friend then explained the massive amount of time he and his research team put into preparing for each important meeting. No wonder he routinely meets with CEOs, CFOs, Boards of Directors, and major investors. On the other hand, most salespeople meet with key executives infrequently. They may even treat such a meeting as another demo or discovery call. That’s a mistake.
When companies experience sales challenges, they often view sales training as the solution. While training can impact sales performance, there are many challenges that go well beyond training. These include not hiring the right salespeople, an out-of-date or overpriced offering, or ineffective sales leadership. In most cases, however, the specific challenges companies want to address are intrinsic to the sales team and involve behavior change.
With in-person, instructor-led training off the table for over a year, companies had to innovate and leverage technology to deliver sales training to their remote sales teams. Initially, the onset of the COVID pandemic sidelined most training initiatives. However, companies quickly realized that sales training was an even higher priority since it was suddenly more difficult to connect with customers, and sales reps were limited to remote selling.