Ep 47: Top Sales Training Hacks

BuzzSprout Audio

There is a lot of technology out there these days… If you can utilize technologies such as the loom, for instance, well then you can create quick videos over time… and then give the responsibility, maybe, to these individuals to get trained through them, bring them quality questions, and that will significantly decrease the amount manual effort that you are gonna feel and hopefully make a little less daunting.” – Taylor Barnes



Josh Sweeney: Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney, joined by my co-host, Taylor Barnes. Taylor, how are you?

Taylor Barnes: I’m tired, Josh.

Challenge Illustration

Taylor Barnes: I’ve been swingin’ and bustin’, some might say hackin’ away at this training that I’m trying to do for my sales folks.

Josh Sweeney: That sounds absolutely daunting trying to get everything together for training, right?

Taylor Barnes: That’s right.


Challenge Follow up ( I too have been through this… )

Josh Sweeney: Every time we add a new person, you got to iterate on training or a new role is even harder, right? You have to rewrite the playbook.

Taylor Barnes: Every time.

Josh Sweeney: All right, so —

Taylor Barnes: I’m starting to enjoy my metaphors a little bit. I hope our audience is.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, they’re getting better and better, I think —

Taylor Barnes: Yeah —

Josh Sweeney: I’m looking forward to the next accent though.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, that’s what a lot of people tell me, they miss Arnold. I’m like, “Okay, all right, I’ll get back to —”

Josh Sweeney: — bring Arnold back.


The leaders challenge/purpose

Josh Sweeney: All right, so, for the sales leaders out there, the challenge is you need sales reps to be trained quickly but you don’t have the time to create all the training content. So, you know, let’s talk about all the reasons, you know, training doesn’t happen. What are some of the reasons this doesn’t happen correctly?

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, kind of in the title but, I mean, number one, sales managers tend to get busy and they don’t have the time. Or maybe better said, they don’t make the time. I can’t tell you how many times that, I’m sure you’ve seen this as well, we’ll run into a sales organization, we’ll try to figure out what’s going on in the organization, and they’ll say, “These are my three new guys and girls, those are our tenured folks,” and this and that, and we go, “Okay, well, great. How long have they been with the organization?” and, you know, 3 weeks, 12 weeks, 8 weeks, and I’m like, “Great, run me through how you train them in that first week or two,” and they look at you like, “Uh, I gave him a phone —”

Josh Sweeney: Their eyes are this big.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah. “I gave him a phone and a Rolodex,” and I know I just aged myself with Rolodex but whatever the version of Rolodex is that these organizations have, that is the training. So, it’s one of those things. Okay, they might not have a program but, number one, they don’t make time to make the program because the hustle and bustle of sales is so go, go, go, and they’re just like sit down, make calls, let’s go. They just don’t make the time to do it.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I feel like that’s one of those situations too where like it’s time now or more time later.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: Right? So it’s like, “Well, I don’t have the time to do it now so I’ll train them on the go” —

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: — but really what that ends up delivering is a situation where now you’re training them through mistakes and you’re having to do a lot more one-off training so like, in the grand scheme of things, it actually takes longer.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: It takes more of your time.

Taylor Barnes: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, and, look, there’s another good reason here if there’s not much time but maybe there’s some sort of, I don’t know, confidence issue with potentially the sales manager being the one that runs them through training. Perhaps they aren’t a trainer and they don’t have the experience to train the individual and that’s understandable. A lot of sales managers are good at managing sales, they might not necessarily be great at training, education, onboarding, and really have a formalized program in their head. “Do I run them through company history? And then value adds,” and what have you. So, really, they just really might not be a trainer and they don’t have the experience so they’re thinking to themselves, Josh, like, “Why would I start? I’m not the guy.”

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, or, “We need a trainer,” right? Like, “We’re gonna get somebody else,” or, you know, “I’m not that person.” Yeah, you’re right. I mean, if you don’t have the experience training, I think one thing, it turns into this daunting task.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: You know? And that’s another reason this happens is, you know, you’re not a trainer and it turns into this daunting task, or maybe you think you have an idea of how you want them trained but still, you’re like, “Holy cow. This is gonna take up so much time” —

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: — and every time you think about doing it, you just kind of push it off because it’s overwhelming.

Taylor Barnes: There’s so much, so much. “Do I talk about coverage? Do I talk about, oh my gosh, did I introduce them to HR? Did I introduce them to accounting? Do they need to know this person and that person?” It becomes really, really overwhelming and I think what the sales manager many times does is they go, “I hired this person for a specific reason. I need to get them producing as fast as possible. And so all this other stuff is just way too much, too daunting, too overwhelming. We’re just gonna skip that and then we’re gonna get right into go zone,” and, I mean, look, guys, I’ve been there. I was trained that way. In 2002, I was given a phone, I was given a Rolodex, and that was it. Josh, I’m sure you were very similar. And — but once you get organized, right? Just think about it like that. You have to get organized to do it. People tend not to be organized. People tend not to have that organization kind of built in so it feels, from the sales manager point of view, so daunting, so overwhelming so instead of like, you know, like you said, getting a trainer, establishing a program, whatever, they just tend to just, “You know what, he or she will be fine. They’ll figure it out.”

Josh Sweeney: Yeah. And to your point on the whole “I just need to get them up and going quickly,” you know? The funny thing there is this is like, okay, well, if they’re going to get going on outbound and they’re like, “Okay, I need to get them dialing as fast as possible, I need to get them on the phone,” but then they have no context about the company, right? The minimum amount of information wasn’t there and all of a sudden, they don’t know how to answer when they do get a question.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: You know? Or they don’t have enough nuance or understanding of the organization. So, there is a concept, I think, of slowing down in order to go faster —

Taylor Barnes: Yep.

Josh Sweeney: — when it comes to training.

Taylor Barnes: And how about this one? How many times have you heard this from a sales manager? “Well, I was trained with a sink-or-swim mentality. I did it,” you know what I mean? “Then they should do it. That’s how we learned, that’s how great we became because we had to figure it out and we were in the trenches. We were just thrown to the wolves.” I hear that one all the time. And, look, I was the same way. I was trained that exact same way. I’m not saying that was the way to go and I will tell you, times have changed, man. That was 20 years ago, and even before 20 years ago, they were probably trained even worse in a sink-or-swim mentality. So, I think a lot of — one of the big reasons there, Josh, is, depending on the tenure, the age, as you and I like to say, depending on the season of the sales manager, he or she might have been trained in a way that they felt was best and they want to reiterate that way down to their salespeople, which could be a sink or swim, a figure it out, a whatever it is, and it might not be the best, but it definitely relates to the problem of needing them trained quickly but not having the time or the program or the process in order to do it.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and it’s probably even harder if that sales organization has been successful, right? So if everybody’s been sink or swim but it’s a really successful, high-performing organization —

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: — they’re like, well, there’s no reason to change and it’s — but, you know, there are probably better ways to do it. I kind of think of — you made me think of the analogy of like the parents who say, “Well, you just toss the kid in the water and they’ll learn to swim.”

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, that’s right.

Josh Sweeney: You know? Versus like going to the classes and it’s like, “Well, we’re not gonna factor in trauma.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: We’re just gonna leave that out.”

Taylor Barnes: Exactly.

Josh Sweeney: You know?

Taylor Barnes: That’s right.

Josh Sweeney: You know, we’re not going to factor in the trauma early days, you know —

Taylor Barnes: That’s right, we’re just crossing our fingers that they still like the water after we throw ’em out.

Josh Sweeney: Exactly. Like, “Huh, Little Timmy never wanted to go in again.”

Taylor Barnes: That’s right. “I wonder why? Hmm, how was he trained?” Yeah.



Josh Sweeney: All right, so let’s talk about some solutions. So, what are some solutions to some of these time elements?

Taylor Barnes: Yeah. I mean, number one is you obviously have to make time in order to do it. But, I will say this, there is a lot of technology out there these days and I think a lot of people assuming that if they get involved in training, it’s going to be this manual, week-over-week effort and just eight hours a day nonstop because there’s so much, and what I’ll tell everybody out there is that’s really not the case. If you can utilize technology, such as Loom, for instance, well, then, you could create quick videos over time and, you know, a little one minute here, two minute there, three minute there, and whatever it is, and then, you know, basically build this video curriculum and say, “Well, week 1, we’re gonna go through these five or six and week 2, we’re gonna go through these five or six,” and then give the responsibility maybe to the individual to get trained through them, bring you questions, and that will significantly decrease the amount of manual effort that you’re going to feel and hopefully make it a little less daunting. Now, I can say that Loom is a good solution all the time but, number one, you got to make time in order to make those videos, build those videos, make them quality and whatnot, but that little amount of time will pay big dividends. I think using your technology is number one.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. I mean, with Loom and other things like Zoom sales calls, you know, building up libraries, I mean, all it takes is just a little bit more forethought and, oftentimes, some of them take an extra 60 seconds, right? So, you know, when we’re on calls, when I’m on sales calls, I will purposely use Zoom and ask, “Hey, do you mind if I record the call just so I can go back through the notes?” and I use it for that but I also add it to our training library. And so, when we bring in new people, I can say, “Okay, let’s — I want you to go through this and tell me what questions you had. What were your takeaways?” So I give them a task where now they’re listening to a 30-minute intro call and this is the first discovery call or this is the third call in that series and all it takes is the extra moment to move it over to a folder, a training folder, name it, and then go back to it later. So, you’re really building that library on the fly.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, I think that’s a great one. And, you know, one of the ones that I know that you’ve talked about a lot in your history is there is a lot of training that’s available from your partners, from your resellers, from your distribution points, from your product reps or service reps, whatever it is. Have you seen that a lot, Josh, where people don’t necessarily lean into that?

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I think they just don’t even think about it, right? So we have multiple partners. We use, you know, DataValidation.com or HubSpot Partner and all these other companies and I don’t have to go reinvent any of that. There’s hundreds of YouTube videos on a lot of these products. Now, there’s other things that we have to record that are unique to us, of course, and that’s where Loom and Zoom and other things come in, but, yeah, the vendor training videos are across the board. Like I know another organization, I was talking to a head of operations and they were lamenting how hard training was and I said, “Well —” They were in the flooring industry. I’m like, “Well, don’t all these flooring companies have videos about like what it is and the benefits and all of that?” and they’re like, “Yeah, that’s a perfect idea,” and you just go out to those vendors and just pull down a bunch of videos for the person who’s coming on as a sales rep that maybe doesn’t have the industry experience. And I think that’s probably the unique position for that is if they don’t have industry experience but you’re hiring them for like their sales prowess or something else, you know, some of their skill set, well, then, the industry experience can come from a lot of other vendors and videos and they can learn that pretty rapidly. Now, you know, you probably need to go through and pick out the best ones for them so they get up to speed in time and they’re not just going through it, maybe give them a few exercises, but that’s — I mean, we’re talking minutes, you know, to pull some of that together.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, and a little bit of an education for those out there that aren’t necessarily connecting the dots, because we were definitely one of these as well. When I think of like a vendor or an OEM, a lot of times, that means like a big organization that really fuels our supply chain or fuels our service delivery. “To be clear, what kind of software are you using? What kind of prospecting software are you using? What kind of CRM are you using?” I’m talking those levels of training are available from what you’ve already purchased. So, go out there to the people that you bought the software from, bought the CRM from, whatever it is, and go ask for some training from them. I guarantee that comes in your package, right? Because the more you use, the more you need it, and the more you need it, the more they upgrade it. They got a vested interest in making sure you get trained too, I promise you. One of the things that we did, Josh, or I should say that I did for my team awhile back is I built what we call an RFP response library or an RFI response library. In many of the businesses out there, when you’re bidding for something in terms of a sale, you will have an RFI, a request for information, RFQ, request for a quote, RFP, request for a proposal, whatever —

Josh Sweeney: All the RF signals you can get.

Taylor Barnes: All the RF signals you can get. Well said, I like that, I got to remember that one. And so what we did is, you know, I took all the RFP responses that we had collected over a year and I compiled them into a library and separated them out by company and delivery and this product and that service and this and that, and then gave them a repository to go get it. It’s an FAQ on steroids. And that’s the kind of thing that keeps giving. So, when you can sit there and add to it and sit there and add to it, that really gives your salespeople the ability to learn a lot about the organization and get the general onboarding but that is a really heavy duty, applicable sales training to what they’re going to ultimately be going to market with so that is an enormous hack. I’d really recommend people go back in terms of what you’ve responded to, a lot of these RFPs or these formal bids or whatever you call them in your industry, and go compile some of those Q&As, document them, put them in a library for future training, that’s going to make enormous strides for your salespeople.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, most definitely. And then, in addition to that, I mean, the last solution I think we have is just outsource it, right? Delegate it to somebody else.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: You know, write up what you’re looking for, find somebody to take care of it. You know, if it’s going through vendor videos and pulling them together and prioritizing the list, you know, you can go to somebody else to do that or you can just outsource training. You can outsource it to somebody else that comes in and puts together a package for you and decide on, you know, how robust that needs to be based on your budget.

Taylor Barnes: Yep, fantastic idea. If you don’t — if you’re a sales manager and you’re great in managing sales and the people and the business and their customers but you are not so good at the training and education, guess what? You have a solution. Josh just nailed it. You ain’t got time, you know, you don’t want to make time is a better way of saying, go outsource it. Outsource what you’re not good at. I do it all time. And in this regard, that might be a really good solution for you.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah.


Final Question

Josh Sweeney: So, with all of those challenges and solutions, we’re going to leave you with the final question: What are you doing to get reps trained and up to speed quickly?

Taylor Barnes: And this has been Purpose-Driven Sales with Barnes and Sweeney. Now, go lead on purpose.

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