4 Reasons Your Best Sales Rep May Be Your Worst Sales Trainer Blog Feature
Dan Fisher

By: Dan Fisher on April 21st, 2016

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4 Reasons Your Best Sales Rep May Be Your Worst Sales Trainer

leadership | Employee Training

Lone sales rep

When you think about it, it only makes sense to put your best sales performer in charge of training the rest of your sales team. Who better to show new and underperforming sales reps how it’s done than the person who’s shown they know how to do it, time and time again?

As it turns out, making your best sales rep your sales manager or trainer is not as good an idea as it sounds. As a sales coach for IT staffing firms, I see this as one of the three main things stopping companies from really taking off, growing beyond that $10 million annual revenue threshold.

In sales for IT staffing, your best rep can either be a player or a manager. They can’t be both. Here’s why:

Your Sales Leaders Are Bringing in Too Much of Your Revenue

At many of the IT staffing firms I work with — those that are perpetually stuck in the startup phase — one person is responsible for 70 percent or more of the firm’s revenue. Often, this is the owner.

The problem with this model? It’s entirely unscalable. If your sales manager (or you) is bringing in most of your firm’s business, when are they going to find time to train other reps? Not to mention  everything else sales managers have to do: territory management, compensation and commission plans, customer segmentation, sales strategy, revenue forecasting, goal setting, and generating reports.

(Read my article on why IT staffing firms should be keeping their eyes out for “Mr. Scalability,” not “Mr. Superstar.”)

Their options are either sacrifice the sure-thing revenue your company needs to stay in business or squeeze sales training into the few hours each week they aren’t selling. Neither choice is very good.

I’ve found that effective sales training — training that sticks — takes at least 90 days, ideally more than that. One-day training sessions and three-ring binder documentation dumps just don’t cut it.

Your Compensation Structure Doesn’t Reward Sales Leaders for Training Others

Who can blame a salesperson for focusing on fattening their own wallet over those of new and underperforming reps? Very often, sales managers of IT staffing firms are compensated better for their own books of business than the rest of their team’s.

You might think that if you offer your sales manager an override on all deals closed by their sales team, it will encourage them to dedicate more time to training. But in my experience, the allure of their own sales is too much for managers to resist.

Your Sales Leaders Know How to Sell; Not How to Train

Just because someone is good at selling — in many cases, extremely good — doesn’t mean they’re any good at training other people to sell. They’re two very different sets of skills, as Inc. points out in this article.

I find that sales managers tend to be pretty good at telling their people what they want: “Get more meetings. Make more placements. Close larger deals. Expand account wallet share.”

What they struggle with is telling their sales reps how they should accomplish these goals. In other words, they’re great players but lousy coaches.

To be fair, It’s not always the sales manager’s fault they don’t know how to train. Frequently, they’ve never been taught how to train. So, lacking training on training, they revert to shadowing, having their reps try to glean what they can from observing them in action.

Shadow training is inefficient at best, useless at worst. My first piece of advice for IT staffing firms looking to improve their sales training programs is to ditch the shadow training. Here’s what I said about it in a recent post on building a scalable sales organization:

Even top sales performing sales reps have their weaknesses and faults. What this means is when a new sales rep shadows a top performing sales rep, the new rep still doesn’t get trained on ALL of the most effective ways to execute the steps in your sales process. They only get exposed to the sales reps strengths and tasks they're comfortable with. How does your new sales rep learn best practices for executing the steps and activities that your top sales rep struggles or neglects to execute? They don’t.

Your Sales Leaders Aren’t Leading By Example

When IT staffing firms launch a sales training program, strangely enough, they typically only put their sales reps through the training — not the manager. When you don’t enroll your sales managers and executive leadership in your sales training program, it sends a strong message to your team that training is really not that important.

Even if your sales manager feels they have nothing new to learn, they should still complete the training to set a good example for other reps. This is critically important for getting the rest of the team to buy into training.

Who is Training Your Sales Team?

Have you fallen into the trap of assigning your best salesperson to train the rest of your sales team? Have you avoided it? I’d be interested in hearing how it’s worked out for you. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

But I’m talking about the things you’re doing wrong in this article. What could you do right? That’s what I write about in my newest eBook for IT staffing firms, “5 Ways to Drastically Overhaul Your Sales Training Program and Boost ROI.”Follow the link to get a free copy for yourself.

5 Ways to Drastically Overhaul Your Sales Training Program and Boost ROI

 

About Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.

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