Do you train your employees? Odds are, NO!

Employee training should be the gold standard for every company, but over a life-time of working for companies, I realize it is not. The position most lacking in training is also the most important to the company … sales. The very position that generates the revenue that supports the company.

I have worked for far too many companies in my life and with only one exception, the training is as follows: “You see that map of our territory? You can call on anyone east of this line. Now go sell something.” And that is one of the better ones, but at least it pointed me in the right direction.

The one exception? Lanier Worldwide. They took training to a level I had not seen before nor since. A new sales person spent the first month in the hiring office studying spec manuals for their products, followed by a week at Corporate putting that knowledge to work. The emphasis in their training was on how to communicate that information to the prospect and make them a customer. They were also the best company I worked for at communicating information, but I’ll save that for another shortcoming of companies article.

I’ve heard lots of excuses for the lack of training programs … it costs too much, it takes too much time, it’s not practical, the new hire is experienced, etc. If I had a dollar for every sales person thrown into a territory completely unprepared, I could retire. And I suspect the results reflect the training. Little training, little results, fantastic training, fantastic results. I know this from my personal experience.

I’m curious, how much time does your company take to train the sales people it hires? Now don’t count the time the new sales person spends in the office filling out paperwork and meeting with HR. I mean real product, territory, and sales training.

In my experience, the only position that receives less training than a new sales person is the newly promoted Sales Manager.

2 thoughts on “Do you train your employees? Odds are, NO!

  1. Dave J.

    The best reply I can muster is a hearty ‘sigh’.

    We tend toward hiring/promoting our service people into sales. They have a proven knowledge of the product, don’t mind travel, and are experienced in talking to customers. Then, as our current noobie, is given that ‘there’s your territory’ training and sent to annoy everyone in that area to the point that no one will want to hear from our company again. I could go on, but I know you know all about this sort of situation.

    1. Larry Hendrick Post author

      Yeah, it’s a shame, but that seems to be the normal. I did work for a company that would not let a new sales rep contact an existing customer until they had been on the job for about six months. There wasn’t a lot of work in preparation, but I think they wanted to make sure the new rep was around a bit before seeing anyone.


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