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5 Ways Online Sales Training Can Fail (and what you can do about it)

Posted by John Parsons on Nov 10, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Since the birth of the Web, proponents have dreamed of the perfect “virtual classroom,” where geographic and financial barriers to learning are no more. Sadly, online training in general—and online sales training in particular—too often fall short. Here are five danger signs, and some good ways to avert them.

The phrase “online training,” like its predecessor “computer-based training” can mean different things to different people. To some, it’s putting a WebEx or PowerPoint recording on YouTube. To others, it’s hosting a full-blown LMS—complete with online quizzes and compliance metrics. In any case, the dangers of failure are surprisingly similar to those inherent in all forms of training: live, online, or hybrid.

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Real Coaches Train Us To DO!

Posted by Michael St. Lawrence on Nov 8, 2016 1:00:00 PM

In sports and other types of performance coaching, team members are shown—repeatedly—how to DO things, and eventually how to do them well. Too often, that’s what’s missing in sales coaching.

Imagine for a moment you wanted to learn a new sport like tennis or golf. Or perhaps you wanted to learn to play guitar or piano. So you look for a teacher or coach to help you. If that person is a good teacher-coach, then he’s going to spend a lot of time demonstrating what to do. He’ll demonstrate how to swing the tennis racquet or golf club—or hold the guitar. He’ll show you how to toss the ball for a tennis serve, or play sections of a song on the piano to show you how it’s done. Then he’ll hand you the racquet (or the guitar) and watch you play.

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Sales Training Lessons from an Uncivil Society

Posted by Elizabeth Allebach on Nov 3, 2016 10:08:00 AM


In a democracy, we participate in elections where each side tries to sell us on their candidate. Throughout American history, we’ve seen passionate, but mostly civil elections. This year has been a shouting match of incivility, unrest, and unwillingness to listen. Both sides are failing at salesmanship.

As annoying as political rhetoric is, politicians and their teams have a job to do. Successful campaigns are built on modern marketing principles, as the late Joe McGinniss explained in his 1969 book, The Selling of the President. To get elected, candidates deliver their best sales pitch and value proposition, using every known channel of communication. They have a deadline and a hard quota to meet—for votes, not sales orders.

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Understanding Sales Coaching

Posted by Michael St. Lawrence on Nov 1, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Virtually every sales organization of any size has some kind of sales coaching program or initiative in place. There’s not a sales executive on the planet that doesn’t agree: sales coaching is essential. They approach it different ways—with online sales training, remote coaching and various technology-based coaching tools. And yet...

I recently completed 150 interviews of sales executives, mostly from larger sales organizations. I asked what was the number one weakness in their sales organization. Amazingly, 147 of them had the same answer: “poor sales coaching.” This was disturbing. With all the focus, resources, and attention this topic has received over the last 20 years, how could that be possible?

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Trick or Treat (How Halloween’s Catchphrase Can Offer Insight Into Best Practices for Sales Training)

Posted by Sean Mitchell on Oct 27, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Halloween is around the corner. In the U.S., Britain, Mexico, Ireland, and elsewhere, children are preparing to go door-to-door. They will knock and shout “trick-or-treat” in the hope of scoring a sweet haul. It’s fun—but it’s also a metaphor to learn from.

In the U.S., traditions of trick-or-treating for candy date back to the 1920s—roughly same timeframe as modern advertising. It’s really much older, dating back to 16th century Britain and Ireland, where there are plenty of tales of people singing or performing for food and drink. Today, it’s a fun excuse to get into costume and character. Trick-or-treating is a creative escape (with sweet rewards) that kids and adults look forward to every year. But let’s take a closer look.

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Video Practice is the Best Way to Learn

Posted by Carrie Strohl on Oct 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

As a young Bullfrog at Bret Harte High, to win scholarships for college, I entered speech competitions. I’d stand in my bedroom, practicing gestures, making eye contact with pictures on the wall, and giving my speech out loud. Repeating the live motions, as close to the actual event environment as possible, was the best way for me to learn my speeches and provide a consistent performance.

The way we encode skills hasn’t changed. Humans must practice. Practice makes you consistent, but does that lead to improvement in a skill that matters? As Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” So, practicing the wrong thing just means you’ll consistently do it wrong.

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Interactive Training Basics: You Were Taught, but Did You Learn?

Posted by Donna DeMarco on Oct 20, 2016 10:29:52 AM

Interactive training, whether in-person or online, is just one part of the learning process. Whether you’re a professional sales trainer or a proactive team leader or mentor, you need to know how humans learn—and assimilate that knowledge into their daily lives.

There are many perspectives on the learning process, but the most helpful overview I’ve found  is Noel Burch’s Competence Hierarchy. As you develop courses—video-based or otherwise—it’s always wise to consider your trainee’s journey on this path—and how to move them forward. Here’s a quick visual overview:

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How Remote Work has Changed Professional Communication Skills

Posted by John Parsons on Oct 18, 2016 10:00:00 AM

In his book The Social Animal, cultural commentator David Brooks argues that our subconscious minds, influenced by countless nonverbal cues, determine how we behave. Salespeople and other influencers already know this. For years, they’ve been successful because they communicate well with nonverbals. But has the rise of remote work, and the decline of face-to-face contact, changed this?

First off, let’s admit that some communication skills that will never translate well as virtual experiences. There’s no true online counterpart to a warm handshake or a hug. (I disagree with my friends who insist that such things can happen in VR.) Many nonverbal cues Brooks describes can only be experienced in a live context. Think about meeting a prospect or client for lunch or a drink—where ambient sounds and smells help good communicators thrive. Trying this in a virtual world would be unsatisfying, to say the least.

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Online Sales Training & the Art of Kung Fu

Posted by Bernie Selvey on Oct 13, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I’ve been a fan of Kung Fu ever since I was a kid. I loved all the movies, the David Carradine series, and of course the weekly “Kung Fu Theatre” episode that would drag me into the house on a Saturday afternoon. Now that I’m all grown up—mostly—I see some amazing similarities between martial arts and sales enablement.

To be proficient in sales, it’s not as much about how your body is positioned. It’s about how your relationship with the prospect is structured. It’s also about “learning the right moves,” not robotically but naturally—responding in the moment by knowing intuitively what a prospect is feeling or thinking. That doesn’t happen from watching a PowerPoint.

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The Evolution of Cold Calling: Understanding the Biggest Paradigm Shift in Prospecting

Posted by Ron S. LaVine on Oct 11, 2016 8:01:00 AM

Cold calling is getting a bad reputation. In B2B situations, the best sales training teams are replacing cold calling with Smart Calling or Intelligent Calling.

The latter is defined as the use of a combination of sales and marketing communication channels (i.e., the web, phone, video, physical mail, email, advertising, etc.) to gain Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action (AIDA). The difference today is that, for a salesperson to become more effective, each of these sales enablement strategies need to be combined.

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