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Want a Great Sales Team? Stop Training Them. Start Developing Them.

Posted on in Retention Strategy

Sales can be tough.  It’s often an easy profession to get into, but one that quickly eats up and spits out new graduates, career changers, and even some of the most experienced sales pros.

Many sales professionals work hard and become “good enough”, but very few become great.  You know what I’m talking about.  You have one or two salespeople that are standouts, but many are simply “good enough.”

Yes, they understand the product and market position.  Yes, they know how to sell value, not features and benefits.  And, yes, they always make their quota.   Of course they do.  Why?  Because most sales training programs are turnkey “how to” courses focused on product and process.

We train people on the specifics of our product or service, show them what our sales process is, and tell them that if they master these two things and generate the right amount of activity (“Just keep making those calls!”) they’ll hit a tipping point and make a sale.  And when they struggle?  The conclusion often is….well…they must need more training.

I realize this is both a generalization and a bit dramatic, but here’s the point.  Most companies are so focused on training” sales talent that they lose sight of how to develop” sales talent.  Huh?  Yes, it’s nuanced, but it’s critically important to understand that developing your sales team goes beyond product and process training.  You must help them develop their mindset.

Before you roll your eyes and worry that this is going to get all touchy feely, hear me out.  In order to get your good sales reps to become GREAT sales reps, you need to determine what is holding them back.  More often than not, you can trace any challenges to a deeply rooted belief that’s getting in their way.  Ever hear one of them say “I can’t close this account”, “Nothing I’m doing is working” or “I’ve tried everything”?  This is what I’m getting at.

In Carol Dweck’s book Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success, she discusses the two types of mindsets: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.  Research shows it’s not just our abilities and talents that bring us success, rather it’s the mindset we bring to any given situation.  How might mindset be impacting your sales organization?

Briefly, growth oriented mindsets allow salespeople to see challenges as opportunities, feedback as a gift, and a confidence in their abilities such that they can learn new things.

Fixed mindset salespeople are those who throw in the towel quickly, take feedback personally, and are quick to make up their mind whether or not they can do something.

Growth vs Fixed Mindset

Source: Colorado State University

Stop and think about which mindsets you have on your team.

If we focus our development efforts on coaching our sales teams on mindset, along with the requisite training, the rest will follow.  This is the key to developing them from good to great.

I’ll end this with the following points:

  1. For the growth oriented mindset readers out there, if you think there could be something to this and you want to learn more about developing the mindsets on your own sales teams, email me and I will introduce you to a sales coach that can work with you on this very issue.
  2. If you think this is the most ridiculous blog post ever, see point number one. We need to fix your mindset.

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