Traits to Look for in a Good Sales Trainer

At Janek, we’re fortunate to have great sales trainers who’ve been with us for years. But from time to time, we’ll also welcome new hires to the staff when an individual with an exceptional background in sales and education applies to become a sales trainer for us. Among other things, the steady flow of resumes has helped us establish benchmarks for our organization and create a solid list of what we consider to be the characteristics of an effective sales trainer. If you’re looking to fill a gap in or expand your internal training team—here are some traits and qualities to look for:

It may sound logical, but the No. 1 quality you should look for in a sales trainer is sales experience. Has the prospective sales trainer held sales positions in the past? There’s the old saying, “Those who don’t do, teach.” That might cut it in acting class, but in sales you have to have spent time in the trenches of this profession—actually selling; successfully selling—in order to turn around and teach someone else how to sell better. No one wrote the book on sales without having first lived a sales life. Besides, there’s no way to sell your credibility as a trainer if the reps you’re instructing can tell that you’ve never been out in the field. Being a thinker but not a doer can quickly undermine your credibility with trainees.

Again, it seems obvious, but a good sales trainer needs to be a good communicator. When it comes to sales training, you’re typically looking at lots of information packed into a very condensed program. So it takes a talented trainer to turn complex concepts into easy-to-digest, actionable ideas, and then move on to clearly communicate the next key concept. Additionally, the trainer should take a facilitative approach to training—leading participants toward understanding by asking questions that prompt them to think about the nuances of selling and rethink the way they’ve been selling.

We’ve all been in one form of training at some point in our careers—be that for sales or other positions. And we can sense when the trainer’s energy is high, and when it falls flat and kind of atrophies on the floor in front of them. Trainers need stamina to be “on” for several days in a row—sometimes they’re wearing their trainer hat for as long as eight hours a day, even on breaks. Who’s not going to think of them as the trainer just because they’re stopping at the coffee carafe like the rest of the class? They’ll get and answer questions while not getting a bite of that chocolate donut in their hand. Being “on” is part of the job. Good sales trainers get that, and they’re expert at it. In your sales trainer search, look for individuals who are naturally high-energy. They’re great facilitators because their energy is infectious—it spreads to the participants.

When looking at possible sales trainer candidates, ask yourself, “How invested will that individual be in the success of their audience?” Or “Is this person driven to train because they measure their own success by how successful they help others to become?” More than that, a good sales trainer will cultivate and welcome classroom feedback, and going forward will watch for indicators of the long-term benefits of their training. Because a good sales trainer is invested in the future; they will want to measure the change they’ve helped set in motion.