There are so many situations where inadequate product knowledge, damaged reputation, and inefficient or poorly executed sales processes come from having untrained salespeople.

David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co host Jay McFarland and I will discuss the incredible cost of untrained salespeople. Welcome back, Jay.

Jay: Hey, it’s such a pleasure to be here, David. Sometimes I think I’m that guy. I’m the untrained salesperson. So, this will be very informative to me, I hope.

David: Okay. Well, you know, there’s a difference between being untrained and untrainable. So, as long as you’re trainable, that’s a really big plus.

Jay: OK, I feel a little better.

David: No, I’m sure you’re trainable, but untrained salespeople can really cause a great deal of harm to themselves, to their companies, to their prospects, to the businesses they’re associated with.

It is really kind of epidemic and It’s largely unnecessary. A lot of it comes from, particularly in small businesses an employers desire to delegate it quickly, to get it off their plate.

Like, “okay, I’m not doing this as well as I’d like. I better hire somebody else to do it.” And they’re hoping that that person is going to know how to do it.

And if you don’t have protocols in place, like we talked about in our previous podcast, then of course that just makes it that much more difficult. But the biggest problems that people are likely to run into, the obvious ones are lost sales opportunities, right?

Cause I’m talking to somebody who could potentially buy, but I’m saying all the wrong things and I’m not positioning the company well, and I’m not finding the right needs that the people are actually looking for, and I’m saying the wrong things, there’s no way that sales is going to happen.

It’s a bad reflection on the salesperson and the company, and the prospect will walk away thinking that that company is not good at what they do because the salesperson did not do a good enough job of explaining what they do.

So, it creates a complete disconnect between what the business might be capable of and what the world is likely to think they’re capable of. So that’s a killer.

Poor communication is another one that when you have a salesperson who is not trained on what they need to ask, what they need to find out from the prospect, how they need to address those questions and issues, that defines poor communication, because they’re just going to say whatever comes to their mind or they’re going to say, “well, I have to find out, let you know.”

Now there are situations in pretty much any sales scenario where that might be the case, where you don’t have every single bit of information that they might need to know. So there will be situations where you might have to find something out.

But if it’s happening more than a couple of times at any particular sales presentation, you might want to look at the process that you’re using to make that happen.

The training that you have or have not received. Actually, this really does dovetail pretty well in our previous conversation about protocols. So if you’re seeing this podcast and you didn’t see that one, go back and watch that one as well because these things really tie together.

Jay: Yeah, a couple of things come to mind.

And the first is, how do you know you have an untrained salesperson? If they are not where you’re at, if they’re doing outside sales and they’re sitting in somebody else’s office, how do you know what they’re saying and how they’re interacting?

That can be very difficult. The second thing is if they’re on the phone making those calls, how do you assess their situation there?

Like I said earlier, we have a system that records all phone calls coming in and out. So that’s one way that we have to listen back to calls and give feedback. So maybe you have to go on those sales calls and listen. Maybe you have to have a hidden microphone, I don’t know what it is, but there’s two problems that you get with untrained salespeople.

The first is it’ll be hard to keep salespeople. Because if they’re untrained, they’re not going to perform. And if they don’t perform, they’re not going to make money. They’re not going to make money. They’re not going to be there.

And you may have a lot of potentially good salespeople, but they’re not getting any coaching. They don’t have protocols. They’re not getting training. And so you may be burning through salespeople when really, It’s on you instead of on them.

David: Yeah, and it definitely happens that way quite a bit. The first way you can know whether or not you have an untrained or a well trained salesperson is you can ask yourself, how well did I train this person? Right?

Did I train this person? Right? Because a lot of times if we’re not training people and they’re going out and they’re not doing a great job, we can assume that it either means that they are untrained or that they were trained poorly from their previous experience.

And as business owners we have to make decisions about how we want our business represented in the marketplace. Because the human beings who represent us in the marketplace, these salespeople, if they are not really crystal clear about what our organization is all about, what we do, how we do things, then they’re just not going to be able to perform at the level that we need them to perform at.

So if you’re wondering if they’re untrained, they probably are, right? Because that means that you didn’t do a good enough job of training them. I think recording phone conversations for sales managers, I think that’s an excellent thing to do.

When I worked in radio, when I was a teenager, one of the things that they required us to do is something called an air check,

Jay: Oh!!

David: Where… yeah, you worked in radio too, that’s right. You know about this. So what would happen, and sometimes they tell you they were doing it and sometimes they wouldn’t, but basically they had this setup rigged that when you would flip the microphone switch on, an audio cassette would start rolling. This is a long time ago. And it would start recording what you were doing.

So it would only record when you were talking. So you’re talking over the beginning of a song or whatever. It’s just going to record that portion. And then. What they would do as an extra treat is the program director would invite you into his or her office to share with you what you did the night before, the day before, or whenever they recorded this thing, when you didn’t know you were being recorded.

And you got to hear just the essence of what you’re doing. Now, when you’re on the radio and you’re playing songs, you’re having a vibe and everything like that, that’s great.

This doesn’t include any of the vibe. It’s you, you, you, you, you in these separate little things. Did you perform or didn’t you? Did you do the weather at the time you were supposed to do the weather or did you not?

Did you do your top of the hour station ID at the top of the hour? Did it happen at 10 after? You know, all those different things. And it created accountability. And I think that’s necessary in most sales situations.

I mean, there’s accountability for results, right? And a lot of companies do this. Okay, you’re required to generate X amount of sales in a month, right? That’s your quota or whatever. But that’s one of those lagging indicators, right? That’s a lagging metric. That’s the result.

What can you help that salesperson with before that happens? With the presentation, with the targeting, with the what to say and how to say it, the elements that need to be included in a presentation?

When you get that part of it dialed in, then the numbers will likely flow correctly. When you focus on the outcome rather than the how to get there, it’s like saying, get me to Detroit without a map. You know, you need a map.

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. And by the way, you just, you made me feel sick. I was in talk radio for 20 years and we had to do air checks once a week, and that’s the least favorite part of my entire existence.

Because they just randomly pick. They’re like, okay, and it’s all recorded digitally, so they’re like, all right. Just pick this segment, come in and listen to yourself and then be critiqued on what you did. Oh, it’s the worst.

David: Yeah, that’s brutal.

Jay: Absolute worst. But…

David: Yeah, we were doing like 15 seconds at a time. So…

Jay: Oh man, no…

David: Yeah, that was easy.

Jay: We’d listen to about 15, 20 minutes and I’m just like, “ohhhh.” And then I’m typically being judged by somebody who didn’t know the topic, didn’t know the show prep we did, didn’t know where I was going.

Ugh, but you’re right to liken that to sales. Because if your salesperson is not getting any feedback, then they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing. And there may be just one little thing that they’re doing, that if you could tweak that, all of a sudden the floodgates will open. Could be that simple.

The other part of this though, is if you don’t do this, you’re never going to realize that you might just have somebody who’s not meant for sales. Because not everybody is, and sometimes they need the money, times are hard, so yes, I’ll take a sales position.

But they’re not good for sales, and so if that’s the case, and you’re sending somebody out there representing your product, and they’re doing a horrible job, that’s not good for them, and it’s not good for your company.

David: Yeah, absolutely. I think there are so many situations where things like inadequate product knowledge, damaged reputation, inefficient or poorly executed sales processes, all these things come from having a salesperson that is not well trained.

And as you know, I do a lot of work in the promotional products industry, printers and promotional products professionals, and many of the promotional product businesses, even many of the larger ones, they would much rather bring in a new salesperson who has a book of business than to train the people they have.

And I have always felt that that is so very short sighted. I’ve had conversations with VPs and executive VPs of large organizations, and I say, well, what’s your training budget? And they don’t have a training budget.

They got an advertising budget to bring other people in from other companies, but they don’t really have a training budget. Or it’s so ridiculously small, they’re not going to be able to train anybody on it.

So I think if we recognize that this is not just a matter of an expense that you’re putting out to benefit your employees, your salespeople. This is something that’s going to directly impact your reputation. Some people in the promotional products industry, I’ve heard them say, “hey, listen, what if I train my salespeople and they leave?”

To which I respond, “what if you don’t train them and they stay?”

Jay: Yeah, exactly.

David: Right? Which is worse?.

Jay: What a great point. Yeah, yeah. I think the reality is, if people are going to leave you, you don’t want them there with you. I do think you can control how soon they leave and whether or not they leave.

I tell this story all the time. I could walk into one of the restaurants that I manage and I could know instantly, anything I needed to know about that manager. I could walk into a restaurant who I didn’t manage, and I would tell my wife, here’s what type of manager they have.

Because it reflects in how the employees smile. It affects how quickly they serve you, their attitude. That all comes from management and you can typically assess it instantly, knowing that that all comes from the top.

David: Yeah, you raise a great point there with just assessment, because you can’t just train somebody and then turn them loose and expect that all that’s going to stick.

It requires ongoing assessment. Are they following the protocol? Are they doing the things that are necessary, that are required as part of the job?

When business owners and sales managers, or if it’s a restaurant business and the manager of the restaurant, if those people have the protocols in place and they’re making sure that they’re being followed, it’s better for both.

It’s better for the people who have to follow the protocols and it’s better for the people who are creating them because they can find out where the problems are. Without that, it’s a crapshoot and you just don’t want to do that. It’s totally unnecessary at this particular point in time, especially.

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. So how do people find out more?

David: Go to Schedule a call with myself or my team. We’d love to see if we have a fit to be able to help you to get more of the prospects and clients you need to grow your sales and profits. If you have a situation where you’ve got sales people who are not performing up to speed, it’s very likely because they don’t have the systems and processes in place that would allow them to perform at their best level.

And in those situations, your business is worth less. I mean, by getting this sort of thing nailed down, it increases the value of your business, because now, a potential acquirer has something to spend money on.

They’ve got the likelihood of future revenue, and that’s going to make all the difference.

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. David, once again, it’s a pleasure talking to you.

David: Thanks so much, Jay.

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