How To Train Beginners To Sell


1. Sales Training For Beginners

Beginners who just started with selling will find it's essential to start their training right. Sales beginners come from various background. Some have experience in sales, and some are totally new.

In training, the experience becomes secondary ...

... The first part is to get it right [Here's a note I've made if you're just started]

2. Selling Beginning Skills

Selling beginning skills start with a sales strategy. It is a plan properly documented for positioning and selling products or services to qualified buyers in a manner that separates your solution from that of your competitors. Sales strategies are established to deliver clear objectives and direction to you and the sales organization.

One of the basic sales skills for those of you who are just starting is to practice turning a prospect’s objection into an opening for further commitment. Those with strong selling skills regardless if they are beginners or experience salesperson can empathize with a potential customer's objections, ask questions, and propose clarity to help the prospect overcome their indecisions.

The first step in beginning to sell or the step that sit on top of a typical sales process is prospecting. At this point, you find potential customers and evaluate whether they have the need for your product or service—and whether they can afford to take up your offer.

By applying the golden rule in selling, you sell to others the way you would like to be sold to. The effective beginners and experts of sales practice the Golden Rule to sell with the same honesty, integrity, understanding, empathy and contemplation that they would like someone else to use if those people are selling to them.

Without prospects, there is no chance for transaction to take place. If you want sell successfully, you need to be continuously seeking for new prospects. This is where the first step of sales beginning skill applies to.

Salespeople need to continue and not only start. Strengths common to salesperson regardless of personality type to keep going include initiative, resolve and influence. Weaknesses that they want to overcome to prosper in a sales career consist of social ineptness, shyness and fear of objection.

2.1 What was the training like when I first got started?

It was simple.

I remember that there was just a handful of us.

The trainers were mainly the sales managers, for sales skills training, and product physician for science and product related training. They took a turn during the training period and honestly, the product training was the period I did not look forward too.

Perhaps, I was just coming out of school, and the subjects look too familiar.

Plus ...

... We were tested on product knowledge.

There were writing and multiple choices questions.

And I was not keen with tests those days.

Well, I was not keen with the test now, either!

2.2 The sales skills training, on the other hand, was a different story

They were new to me.

I admit that I've read a bit about sales and motivation before applying for the job but facing the real thing, for me, was really fascinating.

I get to discover so many polish "communication" skills.

At least, that was what they appear to me: communication skill.

If you think about it ...

... Selling skills were really communication skills but with commercial intent attached to them.

I believe, even for beginners, they can adapt to sales training pretty quickly because they have actually practice them indirectly.


2.3 What am I trying to achieve through this post?

I want to convey an essential message to all sales beginners:

I won't be spending my whole life selling, and I will put a full stop at one point in my career. Before I do that, I want to leave a favorable impression to those who just started.

My hope is:

They will go out and leave a similar or better impression on sales career for future salespersons.

2.4 Why I have such hope?

After spending a good chunk of my life in sales, I could see how others perceive selling. I can tell you that not much has changed since. If it did change, people understand selling as being more robust and annoying.

To me, the annoying part is not a good thing...

... And since their career begins with training, I want beginners to start right.

I want them to be able to practice good selling that prospects "beg" to do business with them.

I want them to prosper long term and not get carried away with short term gain.

2.5 How am I going to do this?

In short:

By being different.

I won't be preaching what others were.

I acknowledge different school of thoughts, different strategies and various tactics for selling.

I acknowledge different industries out there, and they require a different sales approach.

Having said that, there are good selling practices that work regardless of products and industries.

3. How To Best Train Beginners?


I'm fond of adapting the methods found in Newsell when it comes to sales training, especially for beginners.

I've personally adapted that into my own sales practice, and I've found a massive contrast between those methods and what typically taught by companies.

And I believe the training wholeheartedly!

I'll break the methods down in my own interpretation for more fundamental understanding and whenever applicable, to be used in your personal quest in sales training.


Beginners need to go through two parts of training - conviction, and practice

3.1 In conviction part

Beginners will be exposed to materials that reinforce the choice they've made by choosing a sales profession. It may sound trivial right now but losing grip on the reasons why they're doing what they do could result in an early walk away.

I mean:

People come and go in this profession, but when they leave, they have the tendency to create stories about things they not fully understand.

Non-sales people will start to form the wrong perception of what salespeople do.

I've read quite several blogs and forum posting online, and listen to the point of view of people on the street about how they misunderstood selling.


Wrong info!

I'll stop there.

Enough to say that conviction training is needed when people just started selling.

Perhaps, the "seasoned" ones can also benefit from quick "re-tuning" of mindset about their current job.

3.2 In the practice part

During this phase, the learning happens quite differently from the classroom learning people used to.

In this phase, learning is done through action.

It's known as "action-based learning."

You learn by doing.

You progress by doing and move forward from that point on.

The direction you move to depends mostly on the action taken.

The critical point here is:

To "log" training hours.

There should be a particular hour logged before they're expected to show progress.

I know that I did not spell in details, in the step by step fashion, on how to adequately train new salespeople.

As I said:

Different industries call for a different approach and implementation.

But the underlying concepts are the same: conviction and practice.

There's a need for new training strategies for beginners ...

... And there's a need to expand this new idea.

4. Assessing Sales Training Needs: How To Do It Effectively?


4.1 How is your sales training need to be assessed?

Did your trainer use a specific tool to do it?
Did your company even have such a tool?
Does everything is left to chance?

I believe it's fair for the salesperson to know how the training needs assessing.

Doing it effectively could mean better sales performance and thousands of dollars saved.

Some companies have the right resources to do this, and some just moved along.

Pause right now and look at your own sales training need:

Can you figure out how it's being determined?

I'll share my experience and see if you can find the answer in your own situation.

The first ever company that I've worked with had sales training ONLY when you just joined.

After that, the kind of training you'll ever have as product training.

The sales managers were the persons who assess and develop your selling skills.

In such a dire situation, what prone to happen is your training needs correlate to your relationship with your managers.

Not an objective and the ideal environment is all I can tell you.

The second company I served had a very structured and organized training schedule in place.

In fact:

It had been recognized as one of the most desirable employers to work within one of those years.

Sales reps were classified into competency level.

It has, at that point of time, four levels.

The knowledge, skills, and behaviors for each level had been spell out concisely. The assessment was done by dedicated trainers and sales managers. Both parties will compare and combine their evaluation, and what comes out of it will be used to determine whether the reps advance or repeat.

Yup, some salespeople spent more times at one level more than others.

Of course, the company will say, "It's for your own good."

Yeah, sure!

In comparison:

The second company had more advantage than the second one in training the sales reps. For example, the amount of money spent to run training was well budgeted and can be controlled objectively, based on numbers of trainee, venue, duration, etc.


This is not a fair comparison since the previous company had no training program in place at all!

But the wisdom of management principle tells you that those things you do not measure, you could not manage. That totally applies to the former company.

Not all training programs in a typical company are structured this way. Only companies with adequate budget and other resources can run such program.


4.2 What's the solution for those companies that don't have the budget and resource?

Are companies see the importance of training?

I've written the dilemma of sales training where people leave after being trained, or people stay and continue selling without any preparation.

To some companies, the defining factor is sales figure - if it keeps coming in, no training is needed. We're doing OK.

And out of nowhere, a fantastic event struck, like the Enron Scandals, and the company has to build everything up from ground zero!

Will it repeat what it has done before?

I can tell you:

If it did, the only comment that will come out is:
"What went wrong? These strategies used to be killer strategies before?"

Well, Hello!

Wake up and look around ...

... There's no World Trade Center anymore ...

... And Hosni Mubarak was no more President of Egypt!

Things change:
Sales strategies need to change with the current customers' behaviors and economic conditions.

When I worked in the field with my sales manager, he will tell me what I need to do to achieve better sales performance.

Just today, we discussed this issue, and I bring up a simple question after he commented about me not hitting my sales target.

I asked, "Sir, have you take a closer look at my sales figure? I know that I'm not hitting my budget but did you look at the GROWTH?"

My growth is in the FOUR digit area, and what is being focused on the discussion is only how short the figure was from hitting sales target.


I wish it changes to something amusing when I say that word, just like what happened to Harry Potter during one of his "spelling" classes with Professor Lupin...

But nothing actually happens because this is the sales target. Huh!

4.3 What this got to do with training?

You see:

If I were to be assessed based on sales figure alone, and by my manager alone, the outcome would not look bright and shiny on my side. The dark clouds will cover the good things I've done, and the cloud size will determine the kind and training intensity I'll have to go through.

All because of such "loop-sided" sales assessment criterion ...

... the sales figure.

If the growth numbers were looked at, it probably me, instead of my manager, who will be training my other colleagues about selling, and what it takes to grow the area significantly.

Of course:

I can only dream of it, and my vision of earning higher incentives now slowly drift into oblivion. The trace of it is getting pale every ticking moment.

I do not wish the same thing to happen to you.

I don't know your current sales performance and how your company evaluates the kind of training you need to support you to haul in the revenue. The company might have it planned, or it might wait for you to proactively request for it.


It deliberately let you sink in poor performance, and sooner or later use it as an excuse to chop you off the sales team.

Who knows right?

In the current situation, everything is possible.

Look on the bright side:

That might be for the better.

There's more than enough for everyone to go around in this universe.

Share your thought on how you're being assessed on sales raining needs in the comment box below.

Perhaps, you have a way to it effectively.

5. Sales Training Consultants: General Guideline To Choose Training Consultants


I'm going to outline general guideline to choose sales training consultants, based on personal experience.

It's not going to be something exact, definitely, but just enough to cover what's needed in the selection process.

Many factors go into selecting the right consultants, so, I'm going to share my personal experience and recommendation for each criterion.

Use this as a guideline and nothing more.

The final say must come from you ...

... It's in your hand.

First off let's answer a few qualifying questions:

5.1 Who needs to be trained?

Are the sales reps need training or managers?
Are trainers need training?

Deciding who will be put through training is a crucial qualifying decision.

Different folks need different strokes.

In one pharma company whose name is kept secret for privacy reason, a sales manager was called by his supervisor.

The reason:
About half-a-dozen of his team members had tender resignation.

Another half were still hanging on...

...and the sales manager's supervisor was thinking:

"Should I send the balance team to be trained on how to follow orders OR should I send the sales manager to managing people effectively training?"

"Should I send both to team building training?"

Now, put yourself in the sales supervisor shoes: which one do you choose?

I leave you at that, but the point I'm driving is, decide thoroughly who to send through training.

5.2 What kind of training they need?

Other than choosing BASIC over ADVANCE or anything like that, it's essential to evaluate which area is critical and needs the most improvement.

Once that evaluation has been made, the company can decide what kind of training and how deep it want its employee to go through.

5.3 Who can train them?

This is the final question on the list.

It supposed to be this way, but many companies choose to go the other way around. They decide who to train their staffs, and justify it with appropriate cost and manpower.

Things happen but that not suppose to continue when we know the right thing to follow.

And this is the central theme for this post :-)

I consider myself as a "free sales consultant" ...

... Free means no cost to hire, and it also means I can move as I please.

The latter seems to be a better representation of my preferred situation.


Since I consider myself as a consultant, I have a relatively clear idea of what is needed by sales reps because I'm one, myself.

It's like the local Caltex slogan: "How do we know what our customers want? Because like them, we're customers too."

This blog has become a functional catchment area to get insights into what sales reps want. It's at the front-line of getting into what they need and want.

At one time, the pharma company I worked with the call in a consultant to motivate us, sales-force, on how to win more sales.

The guy was 'averagely' good ...

... I say average because of his background. He was from the car industry. He had successfully managed his branch in the past, but he had never, ever touched the pharmaceutical sector before.

The only insight he had was from acquaintances.


We can speculate how credible that is, right?

If that guy knew me, I could give him a bird's eye view of the critical issues in medical sales.

But that was years ago.


This is my recommendation:

Find sales training consultants with relevant, in-depth, specific experience in the related industry. Find consultants that know about car sales, talk about selling a car. Find a consultant who know about medical sales, talk about selling medicine.

It's that simple ...

... It's common sense.

And when you find these consultants, prepare to pay for them. I guarantee you they don't come cheap.

A story was told about a guy who calls a piano repairman to his house. The repairman came, straighten a few strings, and charge the owner 500 bucks.

"Five hundred bucks for straightening a few strings? I can do that myself from the look of it," said the owner.

"That might be true. But knowing which string to, that skill cost you that much," said the repairman and happily walk out after collecting his payment.

Ask any salespersons, and they would tell you they know everything there is about how to sell.

But for a sales consultant:

Knowing which skill need "tuning" the, that's worth paying for.

No matter as an individual salesperson or a company as a whole, looking for sales training consultants who understand the process and the industry is ideal.

Cost is part of the equation ...

... Getting the highest possible return from such investment, is really worth it.


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