Training Issues? ~Tequila Sales Team~

Tequila probably won’t fix your training issues, but it’s worth a shot. An extra heavy pour of Patron, in the glaze of our cake, will make reviewing your team’s last shop call scores a bit easier. The orange and chocolate are excellent carriers for the 80-proof alcohol in cake form and the ganache filling has been whipped into shape, which is more than we can say for your team.

Your training isn’t working. You are officially up you-know-what’s creek because your team’s closing ratios show decline. A decline? How can they go to training and come back less capable you ponder to yourself on the verge of meltdown. Your grandiose dreams of total market domination have been crushed under the heavy weight of nightmarish mediocrity.

The Gods have obviously turned against you and not even the sacrifice of your self-esteem will appease their wrath.


You spent $10K on fancy training and your team came back to the office pumped and excited to put their new skills to the test. Only they don’t. As a matter of fact, within a week’s time, the after-glow of out of office time has completely faded and you’d swear by listening to the last round of shop calls that your team never went to training. The scores are the same or maybe worse because, I was busy catching up and didn’t have time to ask all the questions, your sales manager nonchalantly explains. OH, REALLY, you silently scream. Adding insult to injury, when you quiz on topics you know were covered like, what is the method for overcoming objections, you receive the blank stares akin to early onset dementia. To recap, you invested $10K, they learned nothing and you lost 2.5 days of productivity for a negligible and short-lived morale boost. You wonder why you didn’t just take the team out for flaming margaritas because it would have been much less expensive and achieved the same results. Now what?

Skip the ideas below straightaway because they are a total waste of time and will not improve performance:

• Imagine the training is incubating in their brains and results will manifest in good time. It doesn’t.
• Get exasperated that your team is not learning by the same methods you did nor do they seem to care that they are not learning. Oh, sales people!
• Conceive that the training is somehow outdated and therefore not working for your advanced team. Nice try.
• Use browbeating repetition in daily meetings hoping it will sink in. It won’t.
• Assign a different training topic for each person on the team to present during sales meetings. Makes no difference.
• Send team back for more advanced training imagining that it will take better the second time. Same thing happens – nothing.
• Have threatening chat with managers pre-training so there is a clear understanding that you expect improvements. Then flat out demand improved closing ratios upon their return, or else. #epicfail #badleader

Common practices that you think are improving closing ratios but aren’t:

• Pipeline meetings. This is more for forecasting purposes than coaching the sales process. You will catch your unorganized managers that have not followed-up on leads but it’s usually too late to save the business.
• Approving contracts before they go definite. It is obvious that if you are at the contract stage then there is a high likelihood the business is going to close and you are just making sure that the manager didn’t give the house away.
• Reviewing lost business. While a post-mortem is a good idea in theory, unless an inquiry with the exact same circumstances is happening right now, then the learning will likely not be applied. It’s helpful for other strategy but not your sales team’s selling skills.

Training, you have concluded, is a total sham. You are officially giving up and joining the other Directors of Sales in your company that merely check the training box and pretend it worked. You’ll just feign ignorance of what a closing ratio actually is or how to find the information altogether because that seems to be working for everyone else.

This phase of despair can be overcome with chocolate, tequila and the following:

• Training must be specific. As in, a real inquiry or target account for each manager. If our brains don’t understand how to apply a theory it gets moved out of the way for more important details like what happened in the last episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
• Sales leaders must review how real inquiries are being handled and ask the sales manager to demonstrate the sales process that he followed to uncover the customer’s needs. It’s training, in the moment with a real piece of business, which gives the sales leader the opportunity to impart wisdom and improve closing. This is where the battles are won. This is where you will impact closing ratios and nothing else really matters. Nothing! Note: you may have one exceptional person in your company that studies and applies the training without any additional coaching but this is atypical. For those that are incredulous, review the closing ratios.

Improve performance by:

• Restructuring the RevMax meeting so it’s a one-to-one review with each manager. Dig into the details and coach until each manager demonstrates a consistent and thorough use of the sales process. You are going to use the same allotted time on your calendar but make it significantly more impactful.
• Focus on the biggest and most complex pieces of business in the pipeline. Assist with the target accounts that are also using your top competitors.
• Enlist Sr. Sales Managers to assist with the process.
• Watch the numbers. Hold yourself accountable and work through it together until you see the quality of the sales process improve and then the numbers follow.
• Cancel other meetings if necessary and hyper focus on this method until each member of your team is proficient.

Posturing that training improved performance when there is no measurement in place to validate your assumption is precarious bluffing. 

Please don’t:

  • Cite the smiley face ratings from the post training survey as proof that it was beneficial. Perhaps it was from a morale boosting standpoint; however, the fact that your team was entertained is probably of little consequence to the owner of the business seeking tangible improvements for the significant investment. Expect a sad face rating on your next performance review if you don’t take this serious fact to heart.
  • Hide behind so and so is making her numbers so it doesn’t really matter. It does matter because there is assuredly more market share or better business to be developed. Creating a culture of continuous improvement will ultimately serve everyone’s best interest.

Be open with your team about what you are changing and why. Also, be prepared for pushback because their pride is going to have some trouble with this type of training. Ignore the grumbling the same way you do when they complain about the lack of low fat salad dressing options in the cafeteria. Better to have a few temporarily ruffled feathers than you failing to train your team properly.

The moral of the story is: do not believe that there is any resource out there that is going to magically train and transform your team into ninja sales warriors for you. Sending a team to a class so they hear another voice saying the same things you do may offer benefits; however, please know that the heavy lifting will be done by you, the sales leader, working through real leads and practicing the sales process until it’s mastered.

Now that you’ve whipped yourself into shape, it’s flaming margarita time!


Recipe adapted from Orange-Yogurt Muffins Recipe found in
William-Sonoma Muffins & Quick Breads

Flaming Margarita Cake

5 Tablespoons butter
2 cups flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
¾ cup sour cream or yogurt
¾ cup milk
Chocolate chips (adjust amount according to the type of filling and frosting being used)

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 Tablespoon Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur
2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)
Pinch of salt

Whipped ganache

Pour 80-proof alcohol on citrus rind and carefully light a match

The cake is baked in two greased 5” rounds for approximately 30 minutes at 375 degrees

Disclaimer: The story and recipe above should not be considered advice as the readers and users of Chocolate Cake Mondays are not clients and therefore CCM is not liable for reader’s reliance on the information herein.

Published by HIRED GUN.