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Why is More Important Than How

3 min readJuly 22, 2020

Sellers Need To Know The “Why” Behind The “How”

Sales reps and sales managers would benefit from more sales education and less sales training.
There is a vital difference between sales training and sales education.

Sales training is all about the “how.” Sales education is about the “why.”

Sales education provides the context and framework for sales training. It provides the intellectual underpinning and justification for why the skills learned in sales training will help your customers make better and faster decisions.

Sales training is all about what the sales process and what the sales rep does. Sales education focuses on the buyer’s process and the critical ways it should shape how you sell. How do they gather information? How do they make decisions? And how do these influence the strategies a salesperson should employ to earn their business?

Sales training teaches fundamental and repeatable sales skills. For instance, how to handle objections. However, in the absence of sales education that teaches the reasons why customers raise certain objections in certain situations, then that sales training loses some of its value.

Sales training on its own, without being preceded or accompanied by sales education, focuses on the rote repetition of prescribed sales processes. Sales education teaches sales reps to be mindful, thoughtful and deliberate and to treat each sales interaction with a prospect as a unique value-driven event.

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who also knows why will always be his boss.”

To update Emerson’s quote for our modern sales world, it would read “The seller who knows how will always have a job. The seller who also knows why will always close the deal.”

How should you go about educating your sellers?

First, sales education is not about teaching sellers in a classroom. Second, here are some simple ways to start.
Start by building a true learning culture in your sales team.

This is simple and easy. Start with a perpetual reading program. It’s a mandatory “book club” for sales. Read one book per month. Have a weekly reading assignment that will be discussed each week during your sales meeting. Assign one individual from the team to be the discussion leader for each book.

Elevate your coaching.

Train your managers how to coach. Most salespeople report that the people who were most instrumental in helping them learn how to actually sell, were managers and mentors. Coaches. So, if you want to educate your sellers, invest in training your managers how to effectively work with sellers. (Start by reading The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. The best book on coaching you can find.)

Formalize the sharing of stories and experiences within your team.

Set aside time every week for one individual contributor to share a story about one of their successes or failures. This could be part of a weekly sales meeting. Alternatively, each week you could designate an IC to record a short video that tells their story. Then create a library of the video stories that can be viewed by teammates and new hires.

Have your customers talk to your team.

Every month integrate a 30-minute conversation with one of the key decision-makers from one of your existing customers into your sales meeting. Have a manager interview the customer about their buying experience with your company and your competitors. Ask tough questions that give the customer permission to dig into what you did well and what you could have done better.

What type of seller do you want to be?

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