Whenever somebody asks me about sales training (or any training for that matter), I always challenge them with the “$5M Cash Test,  first.

95 times out of 100, it becomes apparent that they don’t need training, and they recognize exactly the areas that they need to work on.

So what is the $5M Cash Test? Obviously, I’m not giving them $5M (or even asking for it, in most cases…) 🙂

The test is this: Imagine you have a salesperson and you want them to close 100% more deals per month. Could they do it? More importantly, if you offered them $5M cash to accomplish that in one month would they succeed? Or would they fail miserably?

If you think they could, what would they be doing differently with that kind of money on the line?

If it’s just a matter of making more calls, polishing their pitches, being more diligent with follow-up, or anticipating and handling objections, then they could probably do it, and then retire comfortably.

In other words–if they could do it for an extra $5M, there is nothing stopping them from doing it today.

But what if they didn’t know what you were selling, and are only closing the (few) deals per month they currently do through sheer luck and numbers.

If they legitimately don’t know how to position your product in a way that’s appealing; if they legitimately don’t understand how poorly they’re presenting themselves to prospects and existing clients; if they don’t know that you can’t ask for the order before you demonstrate value; if they’re doing the best they can and they’re working 12 hours a day without slacking off right now.

If they don’t know the mechanics, in other words–then there’s no way that they’re going to walk away with that sweet $5M in cash.

Now, I want to be clear here–I’m not suggesting that the only options are “Train them or tell them to stop being lazy and perform.” Instead, I want you to consider the fact that 95 times out of 100 when a company believes they need more training (in sales, service, marketing, whatever etc.) what they really need are better ways to support their staff.

Let’s keep working with sales for the case of this tidbit.

Instead of the issue being that salespeople need more skills, it’s often the case that they’re being asked to do too much, with too little. They need better processes, better structure, better tools, and a better culture.

If your company hasn’t addressed these issues first, then training is a waste of money. People may learn some fun new tactics, and there may be a temporary uptick in sales, but without addressing the root of the problem, there’s no way to maintain higher sales numbers (Well, I suppose you could put $5M on the table every month?)

The flip side of that is that when you create a better sales environment by ensuring you have the right tools are in place, and there is a consistent selling culture and set of expectations, then your people will often do wonderfully even with no training.

And, of course, any training that they do get will be so much more effective because you will be able to ensure that it aligns with your values, culture, tools, and processes.

Your challenge for the week should be pretty obvious.

Do the “$5M Cash Test” or the equivalent for your business. Put some serious cash on the table and see if it’s truly a training issue. This is obviously not limited to the sales department–you can ask this question of anybody who’s performance you can measure objectively.