With Wimbledon fast approaching we came across a Wall Street Journal piece announcing “the big-serving boom is over”. In the article, Tom Perrotta suggests: “A big serve alone no longer carries the day at Wimbledon, or anywhere, because everyone in the men’s game knows how to serve well. When everyone learns to do something well, those who do it best have less of an advantage.”
We think there are lessons here for sales and sales training.
Historically, companies focused on hiring the best sales force available and then provided them with good initial training. While still a good idea, a problem has emerged. Recruitment + initial training alone no longer carry the day because sales people don’t sell into static buying environments. This means that the initial training they receive, like the big serve, over time often yields skills parity, not a competitive edge. Today, success requires companies to not only build the best sales force, but also to maintain it.
While true for most industries, it’s particularly noticeable in industries facing major shifts, such as medical sales. Hospitals are being driven by federal policy reform and a push to provide higher quality at a lower cost per patient – yet deliver solid financial results. With reimbursements declining, metrics changing, competition expanding, physician alignment growing, and the demand for services increasing, the challenges facing U. S. hospitals is transformational. Sales people need to be able to sell successfully in this new environment.
We believe this means companies shouldn’t stop training their sales force after they “graduate” from new hire training. Companies should view sales training as an ongoing process, not an event upon hire. So whether selling for 18 months or 18 years, sales people need to continuously hone their skills (i.e., the spring training analogy) and to learn the current best practices that are resulting in sales success. One very effective way to achieve this goal is for companies to capture successful best practices across the sales force and share them is through sales training.
In markets undergoing rapid changes, such as medical sales, updating the sales team to adjust and adapt to the new market realities is an investment worth making.
Check out other posts on sales effectiveness at the Sales Training Connection.
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