Why Tailored Sales Training is Not the Answer

I have consulted with hundreds of companies over the years, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the comment, “Our business is different.”  I understand, and I agree. But I would take that difference down another level or two.  Every salesperson and every sales call is different; to treat them as the same is a huge mistake.

If that is true, then you might think it would be a good idea to shop for sales training programs from providers who promise to tailor their sales training courses to your organization, your industry, your product, or your particular selling challenge. But if the promise of “tailored” sales training sounds good to you, think again.

The fact that every sales call is different is exactly why it is vital to provide sales training that is focused on developing universal sales skills that can be applied toevery situation, rather than attempting to identify the perfect situation where sales training should be focused.

That is the fatal flaw in the promise of sales training programs and sales coaching plans that supposedly will be tailored to your company’s situation. The promise sounds appealing, but it ignores the fact that your situation is fluid, not static.

When sales training companies say they will tailor their programs, they usually mean that they will make adjustments in their standard content so that it applies to your environment. That might work fine for a month—or a week, or a day. It might work longer, but only when a particular situation arises in the field.

In today’s evolving sales environment, sales training and sales coaching need to be as nimble as the atmosphere in which you work. Furthermore, sales training programs that are truly worthwhile need to last a salesperson’s lifetime, not just until something changes or another selling challenge arises.

Sales training should last a lifetime

How, exactly, will a sales training company tailor its programs for you? Typical areas for customization include topics such as positioning against the competition, price negotiation, cross-selling, and handling objections. Here are a few flaws in that plan:

  1. Activities such as positioning, price negotiation, cross-selling, and handling an objection all involve the correct use of several sales skills. It isn’t a matter of applying just one skill per activity.
  2. Each salesperson has a different level of competency in each of these sales skills.
  3. The circumstances in every sales call will always be a little different.  You can’t possibly give enough examples to cover every situation in which an objection, a negotiation, or a cross-selling opportunity will arise.

The same fatal flaws apply in cases where “tailoring” sales training means that you are invited to pull a module here and a module there from someone’s “training library.”  There just aren’t enough modules to handle the unique needs of every salesperson and every sales call.

So forget that brand of tailoring. What you need instead is a flexible selling system that focuses on developing a few key, core sales skills that can improve every salesperson’s ability to handle every selling situation.

How can you teach a single sales training program to every salesperson so that each becomes capable of handling every selling situation they are likely to face now and in the future? The answer does, indeed, involve customization. But what you need is a customizable sales training approach in which each individual can tailor the content to fit themselves as well as the situation they face.

To the best of my knowledge, the only sales training system that takes this approach is Action Selling. It is completely customizable because it focuses on the common buying decisions that all customers make. It develops critical sales skills within a flexible process that applies to every selling situation and every salesperson.

Now, that kind of tailoring is worth a second look.

For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling.  He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations.  Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).