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Three secrets sales trainers don't want you to know


Training is a tough business. The old saying, "Those who can, do – and those who can’t, teach," makes an already challenging business something you can’t even be proud of doing. To protect their fragile egos, trainers have a secret language that makes them feel a bit more important. Sorry, fellow trainers…I’m breaking the code of silence.

After 17 years of sales, sales management, and sales training experience, as well as having conducted thousands of assessments, profiles, and interviews to determine what separates winners from underachievers, I have come up with a list of the top three secrets that trainers don’t want you to know.

1. It’s not the trainer.

The trainer wants to appear to you as the guru and will typically avoid anything that might diminish their celebrity status.

Prior to facilitating a two-day training course for a close-knit group of people who had worked for the same company for at least l5 years, I was invited to go to dinner with them. Never having had an invitation like that before, I asked my mentor (a typical training guru) what I should do. He told me that I would lose my guru status by going to dinner with these people. He said that I should show up, train and leave immediately. Disregarding this advice, which seemed inauthentic to me, I went to dinner, learned more about each participant, and had a much richer training experience because I found out what made each person tick.

2. It’s not the material.

When hiring for a sales position and deciding between two seemingly qualified candidates, I advised this same client to hire both of them, put them through their internal training program, and see which one worked in the end. If they both worked, great. If only one worked, at least they didn’t spend any additional time and energy training two people at different times.

The training process the two candidates went through was identical. They started the exact same day, spoke to the same people, and ate the same boxed lunches. One was a success the other didn’t make it. The training program was not the difference.

3. It doesn’t take a long time to see big shifts.

As an expert in business development and sales growth, I am invited to speak to associations, organizations, and companies across the country. While the message is motivational, it is designed to be 90 percent no-nonsense content. I want people to take what I teach and use it right away. After a 45-minute keynote address at a conference sponsored by the Women’s Business Development Center, an entrepreneur named Anna approached me to thank me for the concrete ideas I had shared.

Before I got back to my office I received a voicemail from Anna. “I just used your technique to make sure that a closed deal sticks and uncovered an issue that could have cost me $85,000 in new business had I not done what you said.”

Big shifts can happen quickly.

Okay, so if those are the secrets trainers don’t want you to know, what is the secret that allows good material and good trainers to make big shifts in short periods of time?

One word…Belief.

What makes training work is not the dynamic trainer or presenter. It is your belief, as the trainee, that you have what it takes to learn what the trainer will teach you.

What makes training work is not a foolproof system. It is your belief in your ability to be open to learning and executing new skills.

What makes training work is not just being patient over a long time until it works. It is your belief in what is possible for you that gives you the guts to go beyond your current comfort zones.

Let’s be clear.  Training works, but only when the trainee believes that they are capable, willing to learn, and willing to apply what they’ve learned.

Any training program that omits the step of first assessing a trainee’s core beliefs and measuring a trainee’s personal beliefs about self-worth and money concepts is malpractice in my world. Sure, we do great training, but only for people who are clear about their commitment and desire and ability to be trained. For them, there is no limit as to what is possible.

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Merit Gest

Merit Gest is President & Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in on-boarding top sales talent.  She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, on-boarding and retaining top sales talent.  Reach Merit at 720-980-1286 or Merit@MeritGest.com

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