Recently, Salman Sayed posted this question on LInkedIn …
“What essential skills do you evaluate when hiring an external sales trainer?”
A great question. Just as there are sales reps who are misplaced in their professions – so there are misfitted sales trainers as well. I know many of you have experienced boring training sessions, prideful speakers, irrelevant materials, and a lack of follow up in important improvement areas. The result? Ineffective coaching, a lack of results, and bad atmospheres actually hampered performance and doing things better.
After thirty years of watching trainers, I’ve arranged seven essential skills for consideration when hiring a sales trainer.
The Seven Essential Skills of a Sales Trainer
1. Asks questions, listens, and summarizes the present sale’s situation with its needs and problems.
2. Designs and presents a training solution to fill the needs and solve the problems for ‘all’ stakeholders – company, management, trainees, prospects or customers.
3. Creates a measurement process, with management, to monitor and validate improvement in important steps or habits leading to desired results.
4. Includes a follow up series of weekly activities (in-the-field with manager accountabilities) lasting a minimum of 6-8 weeks for simple solutions … or a 3 month to 1 year or more series of phases for more complex ones – like installing cultural changes and systems in recruiting or coaching.
5. Plans how to arrange training so that both new hires and experienced sales reps benefit.
6. Makes sure, with thought out introductions and involvement, that the sales managers are champions for any skills or habits taught them or the sales force.
7. Uses an experiential or facilitative training process (brainstorming, flip charts, group discussion, awards, games, etc.) as opposed to classroom lecture.
To evaluate these skills, watch how sales trainers handle themselves. Do they listen? Do they ask questions? Do they paraphrase or summarize when needs are discussed. Check how they answer questions like, “How would you handle experienced and inexperienced reps in the same class? or, What follow up process do you believe to be important? or, How should we measure habit and behavior change leading to results?”
Now, go out and hire a trainer. And be careful. Treat this as you would when hiring talented salespeople. The choice you make will impact retention, first year production, and overall team production. Lance.