The last training session proved disastrous. There you were, at the front of the room, speaking enthusiastically about the challenges of turning reluctant prospects into satisfied clients. But the faces staring back at you looked skeptical. A couple of people seemed genuinely and openly uninspired by your unabashedly brilliant and animated presentation; others simply looked confused.

Isn’t this the sales-training class? What’s wrong with these new hires?

When managing a group of salespeople, it’s important to know them well enough to understand what drives them, what inspires them. The same things that motivate you may do little for them, especially if your personalities are on the opposite sides of the communication spectrum. You might be a passionate cheerleader, but if your trainees seem unmoved by your excitement, you’re simply expending a lot of unnecessary energy and wasting precious time.

Reserved types respond best to facts and figures. They tend to take on a consultative approach when selling and feel comfortable with a no-nonsense training approach. They almost always disregard anything flamboyant and may wince at the mere thought of playing team-building games. They can sell technical products or intangibles and usually relate best to sedate, bottom-line oriented prospects.

Of course, you may have the opposite problem. You might be the one who is rather reserved and pragmatic while your sales students seem annoyingly loud, garish and outspoken. These very sociable beings may be less than enthusiastic when listening to your well-honed presentation on the latest industry trends; with this in mind, try to employ a more creative approach when discussing serious, fact based sales topics. If you’re speaking one language, and they’re hearing another, your goal of bringing out their best will always be just that – a goal.

Gregarious personalities need to be entertained while you train them. They typically find straightforward lectures boring and like learning sessions that involve two-way interaction, perhaps some role-playing or the chance to earn impressive rewards or prizes. They can usually sell emotionally based products to almost anyone.

Before attempting to connect with any of your hires and mold them into successful salespeople you must be certain they have all of the necessary equipment – copious amounts of drive, determination and ambition. Make sure the smooth-talker in your class is also assertive and competitive. Be on the lookout for faux sales types – those who talk a bigger game than they can actually play. An outgoing personality might be a plus in sales, but charm alone is seldom enough to consistently close deals. Someone preoccupied with his or her own self-image may back away quickly to avoid seeming pushy when a prospect seems uninterested.

You probably know all too well that hiring the wrong person for the job can be a painful and expensive mistake.

Will the new hires take on a consultative sales approach or a persuasive one? How do you know whether your trainees respond to bells and whistles or facts and objectivity? The answer to these questions lies in knowing more about whom you are hiring before you show them to their desk. Interviews may give you a clue, but remember that many people can and will project the image they think you want, or say the things you like to hear, just to land the job.

Fortunately, there are hiring tools available that can tell more about your potential new team members. The Omnia Profile is a written personality-based evaluation that underlines strengths, flags weaknesses, and provides management advice. Assessments of this kind can also help restore cohesiveness within the sales department.

When developing a sales staff many other factors come into play, including the pace and sensitivity of the trainee. Someone who tends to be unhurried will become flustered if required to rush, while a very time-driven person may dislike working through long sales cycles. Thin-skinned business people often become deterred when their ideas or sale pitches are rebuffed, but those who are very resilient can sometimes disregard constructive criticism and be challenging to manage. Remember that your trainees’ unique traits can bring about both positive and negative effects that should be considered when coaching.

Being a successful trainer requires more than just wanting to work with people. To teach effectively and bring out the best in your new hires you need to know what motivates them and what stops them cold. Once you learn to use these triggers to your advantage, you can save time and money.

You might even realize that it wasn’t really them after all — it was you, who didn’t get it!

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