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"The T Word"

April 26, 2012|Jim Ninivaggi

Anyone who has ever worked in this profession understands that no two sales calls will ever be the same, and that ultimately the training given should prepare reps to “improvise” – letting their training take over when in doubt (just like those NYPD rookies).

“We are not a sales training company. We are a sales performance improvement company.”

The year was 1992. I was a salesperson for Learning International, a sales training – I mean a sales performance improvement – company. We were at a national sales meeting, and our CEO wanted us to drop the word “training” from describing what we did with our clients and prospects. My fellow reps and I exchanged skeptical glances. After all, we sold a lot of training and were proud of the work we did with our clients.

Fast-forward 20 years, and the debate continues. In the blogosphere and in discussions we have with sales training providers, the word “training” still seems to be a dirty one. They insist that they too are sales performance improvement companies – not training companies.

It’s understandable to a certain extent; the word can have some negative connotations. After all, dogs are trained; people should be improved. But there are plenty of examples where the word is positively connected to certain professions. A pianist can be classically trained. A chef, trained at Le Cordon Bleu. And a dancer, Juilliard trained. Athletes attend training camp.

A great example of professional training (not performance improvement) is the training that rookie New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers receive before they can ever walk or drive a beat: Intense academy training for six months, followed by three months of in-the-field mentoring. My cousin, a former NYPD officer, shared their mantra: “When in doubt – let the training take over; our training was designed to help us prepare for the unexpected.”

The same holds true for sales. It’s ultimately a skills position and, as such, requires training. Anyone who has ever worked in this profession understands that no two sales calls will ever be the same, and that ultimately the training given should prepare reps to “improvise” – letting their training take over when in doubt (just like those NYPD rookies).

So, rather than run from “The T Word,” embrace it as part of a complete sales performance improvement system.

Jim Ninivaggi

Jim Ninivaggi is Service Director, Sales Enablement Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. Jim’s focus is on helping to deliver data, knowledge and insight that our clients need to improve sales performance and drive ROI. Follow Jim on Twitter @jninivaggi.
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