Tips for New Sales Trainers
New Trainers – By Vicki Colman
So, you’ve just been promoted from field sales representative to sales training manager. You, maybe with a few family members in tow, have relocated to your company’s headquarters. Congratulations!
First things first: Take a deep breath. Now take another. Yes, you are here because people believe in your potential. You’ve earned it! Along the way, you have shown those in positions above yours that you are hard-working and have the aptitude to have a bigger impact on the organization. Take another deep breath and remember, a lot of what you need to know, you’ve already been exposed to.
Inner Workings & Interactions
Chances are, many of you who are entering a training role may have been a field sales trainer or a district trainer while in your previous sales position. While that may have afforded you a bit of an inside look at the inner workings of the training function, it’s not an imperative.
In sales, we all interact with the sales training team. Remember back when you were hired? Other than your hiring manager, and maybe the sales director, the first people you met were your trainers. They were your lifeline, the folks who helped you navigate the deep dark learning management system (LMS).
Your trainer was the one who helped you reset your passwords and with the quiz you needed to re-take; she gave you a virtual high-five when you scored 100% on your Predictive Index (PI) assessment and when you nailed the role play in Phase II. She handed you the award for overall stellar performance in front of the vice president of sales!
Right now, you are ready to get up in front of that class and show them what a superb role play looks like. But what if they don’t do a great job? What if they fail that PI quiz? What if they don’t join a conference call when it is scheduled? Hmmm, sounds as if it may not be rainbows and sunshine every day.
Chances are, you won’t be put into any of those positions without preparation as to how to handle them. Most companies have processes to follow and your hiring manager will provide guidance to you as needed. Keep in mind, if you aren’t sure, ask for help. It’s all right to not have all the answers.
Slow Your Roll & Know Your Role
Okay, it’s time to take another breath. Take a step back and remember what your new role is, sales trainer. Your job is to help people learn content and develop skills. Yes, modeling what good looks like can be a part of that, but it certainly is not all there is to it.
Be patient with yourself. Maybe you were interested in training because it is your career path to becoming a sales manager. Or perhaps you want to explore training as a career or see where it may take you in the future. Once you step foot inside the home office, the possibilities are endless.
But let’s step back for a moment and refocus on what you need to learn to be the best trainer you can be. Let’s shadow one of our training colleagues for a day.
A Day in the Life
Hard to believe it’s not even noon and the two of you have been in three meetings and answered a dozen emails already. He’s gotten text messages from reps who stay in touch and managers who have openings, and he must put comments into the online document review system before the Legal/Medical /Regulatory meeting at 1 pm. After that he says he will be making edits to the documents to get it approved before the end of the week so it can go live on Monday.
Also, by the end of the day he needs to get a report of who completed the certifications in the LMS to the managers so they can remind their teams to get them done before the impending due date. Oh, and he wants to view a virtual training for his own development today too!
It may be hard to believe that those trainers did not just spend time with new hires. That’s right, you remember seeing them at all those sales meetings. They were the ones who created all those workshops, and sometimes facilitated them too. Yes, that will be a part of your training role too. Yet there is much more to it than that. And you thought when trainers weren’t with new hires or at the sales meetings they were sitting at their desks or hanging around like the people on “The Office.”
Absorbing the Culture Shock
Admittedly, there are office dynamics, and it can be a bit of a culture shock to go from the autonomy of your company car to the open environment of corporate living. You will need to arrive within a certain time and stay until a reasonable hour. It’s generally a good idea to take a break around noontime and socialize a while during the day. Developing rapport with your colleagues is a good thing in-house, just as it was in the offices you used to call on.
So far, we’ve identified a few of the roles and responsibilities of a new trainer and uncovered some of the dynamics of working in a corporate environment. Fortunately, training directors typically have an onboarding plan for their new hires laid out in advance of their arrival. Don’t be afraid to ask for the rules of the road and guidance to help get you started. Depending upon the size of your organization, you may be assigned a mentor within the department to answer questions and help you to navigate the corporate labyrinth. If your goal is to become a sales manager, perhaps assigning a second mentor in field sales management would be in order as well.
Who knows? Maybe someday you will be running a training team of your own and promoting people from the field into sales training. Then you can tell them, “Take a deep breath; we will do this together and you are going to do just fine. Don’t worry, just take another breath and we will get right to it!”
Supporting the New Trainer
This new series of articles spotlighting the new trainer will appear in future issues of LTEN Focus on Training magazine, but it’s one of many LTEN resources for new trainers.
Be sure to visit and bookmark L-TEN.org for the latest information and access to resources including our on-demand, self-directed library of articles, webinars, conference resources and materials.
You’ll also want to download the LTEN On-the-Go app, where you can read and respond to posts, add your own questions and comments for industry peers and access all aspects of your LTEN membership.
Be sure to use either the app or website to check out the LTEN events calendar for upcoming events, including our in-person workshops. You can also connect to the LTEN eLearning Lounge, where 14 microlearning modules can help you build your skills.
Vicki Colman is senior manager, sales training, for LEO Pharma. Email Vicki at
VICUS@leo-pharma.com. The opinions expressed in this article are hers and do not
necessarily represent the views of LEO Pharma.