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salespeople, and you will see two habitual behaviours: presenting and persuading. People can know they should act


differently, but put them in a selling situation, with customers demanding a demonstration, a case study, a proposal, a quote, and the tendency to revert to pitching is overwhelming, especially if they are anxious. So, lots of real-time coaching and support is needed.


Lesson 6: invest the time, talent and money You’ll need to invest in all three: Time – invest a lot of time


leading sales conversations while others observe, and then coach them as they step up to try it themselves. Talent – hire staff to help train,


coach, monitor and plan new modes of teaching. We’ve not repeated our clients’ mistake of asking salespeople to coach or teach in addition to their day job, but this has taken, yes … Money – in addition to funding


academy faculty, we’ve invested in compensation, referral bonuses and sales commissions that are generous enough to attract the commitment required for success.


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Lesson 7: be watchful, flexible, willing to fail … and don’t quit! Tis seems obvious, but it’s hard to do when mistakes are made, progress is slow, and money is hard to come by. You’re an L&D and HR professional – you know this will happen. We had a firm commitment to stick with this project, and this resolve was tested by circumstances. Te key learning here is that


surprises will emerge: not just problems but their solutions as well.


Questions to ask before setting up a sales academy


Two years in, we can say with confidence that this is working. We have referrals, people selling, and a pipeline that is solid and growing. We encourage companies to explore developing their own sales academy; we also encourage them to ask five questions before doing so: 1. How will we develop a penetrating understanding of the problems we think a sales academy will solve?


2. How will we develop a clear understanding of our own, successful, selling process?


3. What skills and practices must our salespeople acquire to lead our selling process?


4. What changes in sales management, systems and processes are needed in order for our academy to flourish?


5. What investment of time, talent and money will it take for this to work?


Your answers to these questions will help shape your approach to training your salespeople. Whether you do it yourself, outsource it, or create some sort of unique hybrid that serves your needs, we encourage you to embrace the challenge. Your sales staff deserve, and actually require, your best efforts in this regard.


W Roy Whitten and Scott A Roy are the co-founders and directors of international sales consultancy Whitten & Roy Partnership. They can be contacted via www.wrpartnership.com and LinkedIn.


Reference 1 Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, The Challenger Sale, Portfolio Penguin, 2011


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