Sales Pros Don’t Practice…On Their Prospects

No Practice

As a sales manager, sales trainer and just a student of the art of selling, I am constantly looking at ways to improve what I do and what my clients do. Obviously, practice is a big part of that process. But, I’m continually surprised at how many people practice on their prospects–learning on the job and experiencing a lot of firsts at the expense of a potential customer.

Recently while looking to purchase a fairly high ticket item with my wife, we came across a salesperson who was nice enough but readily admitted he was new. That’s fine, we were all new at one time.

As we asked more and more questions it became apparent he was more than just new. I asked him, “So, how new are you?”

He smiled and said, “Well, today’s my first day.”

“First day out of training?”

“Nope,” he smiled almost proudly. “First day on the job. Just got hired. In fact, you folks are my first prospect.”

I didn’t share with him what I did but continued to probe a bit only to find his training was non existent. Nothing. He didn’t even shadow an experienced salesperson first.

I went from feeling sorry for him to being almost angry at his employer. They had undoubtedly set this young man up to fail. He had a great attitude, seemed to be likable enough but was totally clueless about what he was selling.

We were a pretty good prospect. (The key word being “were”.) As much as I would’ve liked to help this young guy start his sales career off with a bang there was no way I was doing business with this company. If this is what they thought of their prospective customers, how would they treat me once I was a customer?

I’ve said it hundreds of times. Train your people. Not only for their sake, but for yours. An untrained salesperson makes everyone look bad from the president of the company on down.

Now, before you think this was a forced situation due to a high volume of customers–it wasn’t. As best I could tell there were plenty of experienced salespeople working and therefore plenty of time for this person to get some proper training.

If we would’ve purchased this product, I doubt seriously they company would’ve had it installed or delivered or assembled by an untrained person, would they? But, none of those people can do their job until it’s sold and they let that rest in the hands of someone who knew less about the product than the prospect.


Smarten up. Train your people.

For all of us.