Stop Hiring Blind Squirrels

The problem.

There is an old saying that “even a blind squirrel will find the occasional nut.” The same can be said to new salespeople in that “the untrained salesperson will make the occasional sale.”

Like the blind squirrel who finds enough nuts to sustain itself, the untrained salesperson generally make just enough sales to stay alive (and avoid getting fired!).

So why do companies continue to hire untrained salespeople (blind squirrels)? Two main reasons: 1) there are many, many more untrained salespeople out there than there are trained ones, and 2) we don’t insist that sales training be a requisite criterion when we hire a salesperson.

Why is it that we insist that the people driving our company vehicles delivering products out the back door be properly trained and licensed but the people who are responsible for bringing in money through the front door don’t require any training whatsoever? Curious!

The solution.

The solution is best explained using yet another analogy.

When a recruit joins the army, they don’t just give the person a riffle and a few rounds of ammunition and send them off to war. No, they train them first. At a bare minimum, they take the person to the rifle range and teach them how to shoot straight. The person may not end up being a marksman, but at least they can hit the target some of the time.

When most companies hire a new salesperson they equip them with all the latest sales literature (their rifle) and pump them full of product information (ammunition) and then push them out the door (off to battle) with a hearty, “Go get’em Tiger.”

This is the equivalent of dropping a fully weighted down individual into the deep end of the swimming pool and telling them to have a good time. They don’t!

What to do?

One answer is to train the new hire before you inflict them onto your unsuspecting customers, but the proper type of training.

Yes, product knowledge training is important, but even more important is sales training  on how to present that knowledge to the customer in such a manner that the customer want to buy. In other words, “sales training” not just product training.

Selling is a skill.

Selling is not innate. It’s not something most people do naturally. Selling is a skill and is something you need to be trained in if you are to learn how to do it properly.

Most companies use the “BLB” training method (the Blind-Leading-the-Blind) and send their new hire out with one of their seasoned salespeople where the newbie manages to pick up all the seasoned salesperson’s bad habits and a few questionable sales techniques.

A much better approach would be to dispatch your newly hired sales rep to a sales training professional for a minimum of a 1-day QuickStart workshop to firmly ground the new salesperson with the basic fundamentals.

This may not turn your new hire into a “marksman” but at least he may get to hit more sales targets than they would have without being given a head start in the sales race.

Straight shooters to marksmen.

Once you’ve decided to stop hiring blind squirrels, the next stage is to take your “straight-shooters” and develop them into “Marksmen.”

Contrary to popular belief, just getting more sales experience doesn’t necessarily sharpen your sales skills. As the old saying goes, “practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.”

The key is to practice the “right stuff” and that’s where a good sales training professional is critical. They are skilled at transitioning seasoned sales people from their learned bad sales habits into “the right stuff.” They help the salesperson refine what they already know and add a whole new level of selling skills that allow the person to go to the next level of sales professionalism.

Bottom line.

Here is yet another old saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

The bottom line is that if you are happy with the sale you’ve been getting, you’ll continue to get the sales you’ve always got. If your not happy with your current sales levels, you have to do something different.

Sales training may be THAT difference.

Let’s assume you want more sales and we know that doing the same old, same old, isn’t going to do it for us. Maybe, just maybe, training the people you have now to do an even better job at selling would make that difference.

Give it a thought.