How Sales and Negotiation Skills Training Can Fail the Front Line

I recently noticed and greatly enjoyed Dave Stein’s LinkedIn Pulse post, “If I Have to Sit Through One More B.S. Sales Training Class…” Dave discusses the major pet peeves of a sales “heavy hitter” who bristles at the thought of sitting through sales training meetings conducted by people who have never sold, don’t know sales’ specific challenges or how to have sales people leave the session with clear steps that will help them sell more.

Stein identifies a number of root causes for why sales leaders bring in the wrong training at the wrong time. If you have ever had a hand in sales training procurement at your organization, I highly recommend reading the post to see if you are walking into any of the pitfalls that Stein illuminates.

As an organization that delivers sales and negotiation training, teaching people methodical ways to define and deliver value while closing bigger deals is a pillar of our practice. Our workshops must adhere to the same standard. If you are thinking of sourcing training for negotiation skills for your team, here are a few important pre-requisites for success. If your training organization isn’t delivering on these, then something important is missing!

Do your negotiation trainers understand the roles and objectives of your negotiators?

Negotiation is not a monolithic practice; your procurement team is going to need slightly different training than your business development team. In turn, the needs of each all these major roles can vary greatly by what business unit they’re in, their target market and where they’re doing business.

You can easily find universal negotiation wisdom in any blog. But if you’re investing in particular outcomes, you want trainers who understand the landscape in which your team operates.

How many deals have your trainers negotiated in your chosen niche?

Again, if you’re investing in specific outcomes, this is no time for general theory. A “been there, done that” instructor who has actually had to find a win in a grueling nine-month service-level negotiation is going to help your software sales team much more than a “textbook lecturer.”

This person can more readily tailor training to deal with the situations he or she knows your team will face and craft general negotiation training curriculum to be more effective. Which leads to…

Did the trainer send your team out the door with practical, applicable ways to be a better negotiator than when they walked in?

We follow up with our trainees and survey them to ensure that our sessions are relevant, and more important, provided measurable progress toward their desired outcomes. Additionally, we conduct detailed role play in situations specific to the group and impart follow-up tactics that can be immediately applied and measured. We consider this a must-have part of the training.

Negotiation spans all business activities, but general principles are more effective when delivered in the context of business unit roles and goals.

Have you ever been in charge of upgrading your team’s sales and negotiation skills? Did the experience deliver the outcomes you targeted? Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and experiences!