I read a provocative article this week, and it has generated quite an interesting set of reactions* from others with whom I’ve shared it:
Sales Training – Avoiding the Unfixable Fix
What are your thoughts on the points brought up here?
One of our professional colleagues in pharma training even put it this way: “You can always tell a bad hire within the first week of training.” Do you agree?
I’d love to know what steps companies are taking to ensure better “matches” for hiring practices so that trainers are not left trying to fix what cannot be fixed… If you’d like to discuss, but don’t feel comfortable leaving your thoughts in the comments, always feel free to contact me directly (stevew at impactiviti dot com, 973-947-7429).
*A selection of reactions that have come in via e-mail:
I agree training and coaching are linked through the value of manager direction and support. And hiring right is more valuable than training right.
No, you can’t fix a bad or unmotivated sales person (occasionally it happens when you have an excellent manager). But that’s not Training’s job. Training (and sales management) should focus on identifying the skills and behaviors of the top performers (and seek ways to engage and grow this group) as well as spreading those behaviors to the middle 60-70% to raise their game.
In my experience, the best reps (and best trained) have all the attributes mentioned in point #3. It is this breadth of knowledge (and these days, especially the business and financial drivers of medical practices or hospitals), and productivity that justifies the investment, and the time out of the field to acquire it. In pharma, I’ve had MD’s pull me or the rep aside to thank them for literally saving a patient’s life (oncology drugs) with the information they provided, or created access to. THAT is when the rep is regarded as a partner and ally, NOT a “rep”, and is valued still by MD’s.
I am finding I have to break a lot of habits in new hire training to get our sales teams think and acting differently because of they way they were trained at other pharma companies. Detailing is still alive and well. From there, it becomes a process of time and investment matched with the individual desire to be successful or not. As you know we can’t train passion, but we can hire to it and then nurture it fervently!
While we can argue the merits of what to train, how to train it, etc. I would make the argument that more investment should be made in selecting the right people for the job, as described in the article. The reason there is an 80/20 rule in sales is because 80% of people in sales shouldn’t be!
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