I was sitting in a restaurant, getting caught up on email and social media waiting for a former colleague to join me for dinner. As I did my thing, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation from the table next to me.

It was an older gentleman in a conversation with a teenage boy. I first thought it was a grandfather and grandson having dinner, but as things developed, I realized it was a formal mentoring program, perhaps Big Brothers / Big Sisters taking place.

“That’s good to hear. You don’t want to be defined by your past,” was a statement from the older gentleman that brought a smile to my face. The boy was truly trying to improve his life, and thankfully he was involved in a process that helped him achieve that goal.

With your sales team, are you an organization that has a process to help your sales team achieve their goals, both personally and professionally? Too many times, the answer is no.

Finding sales talent is extremely difficult. Sometimes that means you have to ‘grow your own’ so to speak. That means finding someone with the personality and character traits that hopefully will translate to a quality sales person, and then teach them how to be that superstar sales person.

Too many sales organizations are hiring, but doing very little to enrich and improve the people that represent their company in the field in front of their customers. I would suggest there has never been an excuse for sales managers and companies for not offering training, but that is especially the case today.

A quick Google search of “free sales training programs” returned about 6,240,000 results. Of course many of those training options are not necessarily free or even industry appropriate. But the point is that there are resources available for a manager or company if they are willing to devote the time.

Specific to the newspaper industry, there are several excellent free resources for sales training that you can consider. Sales training in general is abundant online, if you’re willing to invest the time in developing your team. Many media associations, including the Hoosier State Press Association have resources online to help in this process.

  1. If you’re a member of the Local Media Association, check out their archives of training at http://www.localmedia.org/archived-webinar-access/
  2. If you’re a member of the Hoosier State Press Association, consider signing up for the weekly training email from Sales Radio. For more information on that, check out http://www.hspa.com/sales-training-for-hspa-members/

As a manager, you don’t have to go it alone! No money to pay for training? No problem. Use one of the resources available online. Better yet, have one of your more experienced reps take on a quick training session on a topic that they excel. It is a way for you to acknowledge their skills and help to make them a leader with your team. There are several books that you can either buy or get at the local library on sales training and training games. Find something you like and adapt it to your team’s strengths and needs.

With limited budgets and resources, you can still find ways to enrich your sales team and quite often you end up enriching yourself in the process. Don’t be defined by your past! Become the mentor you are suppose to be as a manager and a leader for your sales team. And be sure to find your mentor as well, so you keep growing.

 

 

Pete Van Baalen, general manager for Fort Wayne Newspapers, is a member of the HSPA board of directors and president of Indiana Newspaper Advertising Executives Association.