An Innovative Approach To Sales Training?


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The web provides endless amusement in understanding new approaches to selling.  I recently found the following post in a sales training discussion blog I participate in.  It was posted as “Huge Favor:”

Hi! My name is Melanie and I need a huge favor. I just started a new sales job providing (Some product from a big company). As part of my requirements for graduating from training I need 10 referrals to let me call them to present the offer. You do not have to buy anything at all. (Of course, you can if you want to and I can get you a system for free). If you would be willing to let me call you, send me your name and number to (Melanie’s email address)  with the best time to call you. After I call you I will put you on the “do not call list” so you won’t get any further calls. I know this is asking a lot since you don’t know me. But if you wouldn’t mind, I would be so grateful!!

I’m fascinated by this new approach to selling:

  • “I want to pitch my product, but you don’t have to buy anything.”  Stated otherwise, please help me go through the motions of making a sales call.  Please invest your valuable time in a meaningless exercise.
  • “If you do want to buy, I’ll get you the product for free.”  This is really a cool offer, if you convince me to buy your product, you’re already talking to me about not paying for it.  Cool idea, tell me, how do you and your company make money?  If I want to buy stock in your company, do you pay me the purchase price and guarantee me a growth rate?
  • “After I call you, I promise I will never call you again.”  Well, if I give you my name, I am probably giving you permission to call me.  I might ask you not to, but why make that decision for me.  Would you consider letting me make the decision myself?
  • “I need to call 10 referrals to present the offer.”  I get it, we’re after making the calls, not producing result.  Neat, I can do that.  What’ s the commission plan?

I’ve been curious about innovation in sales training.  Melanie’s approach, based on her sales training is very different than anything I have ever encountered.  I had always thought a sales person’s job was to create revenue for their companies.  I thought we wanted to establish ongoing relationships with customers.  Apparently, I have been under a misconception that sales training is to help us prepare for this, and the best practice is to go out and do it.  The best test of how well we do it is if the customer pulls out their checkbook to pay, or if the customer says, please keep me informed of your offerings.

I guess I don’t understand the new workl of selling?  Can someone help me, I’d really like to understand where I am going off base.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


  1. Dave: there’s plenty of room for innovation in sales training, but this doesn’t sound like it.

    On the one hand, this no-obligation, no-risk venue sounds like a benign experiment, but if there’s no purchase need and no expectation for a decision, how would you, I or anybody know whether our approach, our communication, and our “pitch” are effective?

    Is your example from a sales trainer who is reticent to field test what he or she is promoting? Seems that way.

    “Offline” training has advantages, but I haven’t found a better way to learn sales than by being in the situation.

  2. Andrew, thanks for the comment. I “lifted” the message from a popular sales discussion board, “changing the names to protect the witless.”

    Apparently the author had a final exercise to complete her sales training course. She was supposed to make 10 sales calls. The assignment was a reasonable assignment. Her execution was what was interesting to me.

    From the start, she seems doomed to fail. Using the discussion board as a way to prospect was novel, I can’t really find fault with it except knowing the product she was selling (could only be sold local to her actual location). So from the outset, she was practicing on “live customers” rather than doing the real thing.

    In a training environment, role plays, simulations, and other sorts of practice are great. When calling on real customers, why do a simulation? Why not do the real thing? The fact that she couldn’t bring herself to do the real thing was what I found ironic about the whole thing.

    As always, thanks for taking the time to comment. Regards, Dave


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