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ncreasingly, clients are asking for help in learning how to train their own salespeople.


Tey express a common frustration: “We’ve put our people through all kinds of sales training, and none of it seems to ‘stick’. We spend a lot of money and, a year later, we’re doing it all over again with a different supplier.” Tere are clear and understandable


reasons for this phenomenon. Let’s look at the obvious and significant advan-


tages to having your own training staff. ``


Cost savings – the investment required to find, contract with, evaluate and eventually change sales consulting suppliers can be an expensive gift that keeps on giving.


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Resources on site – having an internal ‘go-to’ team to refresh, trouble-shoot, and induct new sales staff can generate a nimble, effective response to the need for sales improvement.


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Articulating ‘your way’ of selling – perhaps the greatest benefit is that developing a sustainable sales academy requires you to understand your own selling process and the skills needed to follow it.


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Understanding and removing organisational blocks to sales success – having the same team working with salespeople and their managers can, over time, generate slow and steady systemic improve- ment throughout the organisation.


Tere are also significant challenges to be faced. We learnt this the hard way a few years ago when we suddenly needed to teach our own consultants to sell our services.


Why we took the plunge


Briefly, here’s the story of our own sales academy. When we started our company in 2009, we never considered the possibility of training our own salespeople. We were the sales staff – the two of us. We loved selling, we were good at it and, frankly, we’d had enough of running large organisations. Our aim was to create a boutique, effective and personally fulfilling business. For several years, this approach


worked well. Requests for our services multiplied, and we had a decision to make: scale up or put on the brakes. We chose the former path, but it


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came at a price. Te time invested in training other consultants to deliver our services was time taken away from selling our services. Our developing work continued to grow but, when our largest commercial client chose a sales training path that we were not willing to support, we suddenly had a huge hole in our pipeline. Tat’s when we decided to


develop our own sales academy. On paper, it was a great idea, promising all the advantages mentioned above. Additionally, since we were in the sales training business, we had a head start. We understood our sales process. We knew the skills it required, and we knew how to train people to acquire





Developing a sustainable sales academy requires you to understand your own selling process and the skills needed to follow it


new skills. And, we had a team of passionate, talented people already participating in our own academy learning how to deliver our services.


What we learnt


It was exciting. It also was exhausting, exasperating and expensive. Te results have been worth it, but we had a lot to learn along the way. Here are the key lessons and what they required of us to make our sales academy work.


Lesson 1: diagnose the problem before you design the solution Several times, we had to stop designing the sales academy and return to asking these questions: What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? How did this problem develop? How come we haven’t solved it before now? We had to get outside our


perspective to understand the sales problems our perspective had created. We asked our own people, our clients and other colleagues to provide insight into what happened when we sold well and when we didn’t. We diagnosed our sales problems


by asking three fundamental questions: what changes in attitude


 | November 2016 | 25


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