I have been in sales for many years, well before joining Richardson last August. I have heard my share of objections from prospects and clients, and I thought it worthwhile to share some of the most common objections to sales training.
- I don’t have the budget. There is an investment component to training, and if prospects don’t have money in the budget, that’s a valid objection. If I’m talking with the right person, they certainly have a budget to run their business, but they may not have set aside money for training in that fiscal year. If they agree in the importance of getting people to do things differently to get better results, then the objection really isn’t about budget, but about timing. Even so, it is worth having a conversation around what the investment might look like, and whether there might be more value in exploring a sales development initiative versus another effort they currently have allocated money for. The framework for this conversation is to develop a mutual understanding of what it takes to get sales professionals to do something different to achieve better results.
- I don’t have the time. Sales leaders are extremely busy, trying to juggle competing priorities in managing their teams while achieving their financial targets. I understand their time constraints, while knowing they could achieve more if they invested the time to get their middle performers to act like top performers. If they agree their people need to work differently, then I offer to discuss ways that Richardson has worked with other time-constrained clients to show them how they can manage it all and still move a lever in behavior change. I talk about how taking the time for training can produce dividends many times over what their people would have achieved spending those days on the job. And with new skills and behaviors, sales professionals will begin operating differently – and that will lead to better results.
- I don’t know whether it will have any impact. The question of whether training will work is a valid concern. Prospects will say they did training before, or they invested money with another company, and it didn’t have any lasting impact. That may well be; one statistic reveals that within 30 days of a training event, 79% of what people have been taught is forgotten. The difference at Richardson is we don’t treat training as an event. We understand that true change and transformation requires a thoughtful approach, discipline, buy-in, and a regular cadence of communication and training reinforcement to achieve results. Training reinforcement, knowledge sustainment activities, and behavior adoption efforts are all part of our planning, and we focus on change and accountability across the organization in a way that drives productivity gains and outcomes.
- I don’t know whether to invest in training or technology. There are a number of relatively inexpensive options for training, including online courses that people can take whenever they have the time. This might be fine, depending on the objective of the training. But when the desired outcome is skill development and sales activities, I have two considerations. One, will busy sales professionals really take the time and attention to fully commit to a course of online study? Second, will their people have the opportunity to practice the learned skills? Any kind of behavioral or performance skill needs to be practiced to be mastered. Watching a video might impart a little knowledge, but to get good at a skill takes repetition. Just like basketball players shoot endless baskets, and baseball players take batting practice, perfecting a skill takes doing it over and over again. It also takes a coach who can observe, give feedback, and tweak performance. The reality in any sport or business field is that high performers are those who have mastered the skills that matter most.
The one objection I never hear is this: “I don’t know whether my sales professionals need to do anything differently.” Sales leaders know that change is needed to achieve better results in today’s increasingly difficult sales environment. They just need to understand that the way to achieve change is through a thoughtfully planned training initiative that ensures sustained behavior change and drives increased sales performance.