Most salespeople are below or just at their quota because they are not trained on selling skills. This is a hot debate when I go into Fortune 500 companies and tell them their training sucks, or there is a lack of training. They obviously tend to disagree with me.

Then I say, “Hey, Mr. CEO, tell me about your on-going training for your salespeople.”

They look like a deer caught in the headlights.

This is frustrating because we are going backward in the professionalism of our salespeople. There were more better-trained salespeople who had great selling skills and understood their profession 30 years ago than there are today. This is a sad fact for the business climate today because everything starts with a sale.

I ask people, “How much money do you spend to put on your head (shampoo, conditioner, highlights, etc.)?” Then I ask, “How much money do you spend to put in your head (training, such as books, tapes, courses, DVDs, etc.)?”

So what happened? Who knows, but that great sales climate does not exist today. This problem is easy to fix with a basic plan and a little consistency:

1. Find a sales program you like and teach selling skills, not just product knowledge.

2. Constantly practice the selling skills by role playing. These exercises should be conducted at least six times a year. Role playing can be fun if done properly – usually in groups of three, where one person is the salesperson, the other is the customer and the third is the observer.

3. Have your salespeople invest in a pocket dictator. This way they can record their sales calls and listen to them later for their own personal sales training to see what they did well – and not so well.

4. Leave yourself a two-minute voicemail. Record a message you might leave other people and critique it. Is it the kind of voicemail you would want to listen to if someone else was leaving it for you?

Hal Becker is a nationally known author and speaker on sales and customer service. For more information, go to www.halbecker.com.

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