Why Sales Training is Like Cycling with Chris Hoy

I was invited recently to meet and take a bike ride with Sir Chris Hoy – the 11 time world champion and 6 time Olympic champion, the most successful Olympic cyclist and British Olympian of all time.

Why Sales Training is Like Riding with Chris Hoy

Anyway, no surprise to the regular reader that, as we made our way through the Cheshire countryside, I couldn’t help but spot a few similarities with a number of things that happen during a day’s sales training.

1. There’s No Need to Show Off

Before we got on our bikes, the chap who was organising the day pointed out that in the presence of Sir Chris, only an idiot would attempt to show off.

Whatever you feel you need to prove,” he said “it’s not going to impress anyone here. Enjoy the day, the opportunity, pick up a few tips, ask a few questions and see what you can learn.”

And what’s that got to do with Sales Training?

I had an old boss who regularly reminded colleagues, that training should be a time to learn new skills, try out new techniques in a safe and non-judgemental environment.

But there are always a percentage of sales people who can’t wait to tell everyone about their existing skill set – a bit like going for a Formula One driving lesson and desperately wanting to show the instructor how good you are in your company car.

2. How Far is it from Talented Amateur to Seasoned Olympian?

Our route was fairly flat, but I’m told a similar event in Sheffield was far from an easy ride.

Chris Murray and Chris HoyRight at the beginning, from the very first daunting hill, there were a couple of riders who got off and decided to walk.

And what’s that got to do with Sales Training?

Certain managers recognise where their team are and the training that they really need – others unfortunately don’t.

We have a number of methods to help customers understand the ability levels and training requirements of their teams, after all, ensuring people receive sales training that makes a real difference is the reason we do what we do.

When sales people think they already know enough or are just too lazy to invest a little time at foundation level, you can end up with a group who suddenly realise they’re way out of their depth – not only because they can’t keep up – but because they were blissfully unaware that the hill ahead of them even existed.

3. Some People Get Selected, Some People Don’t – Don’t Moan About It, Become Selectable

Even though it was a commercial event – it was a secret.

Numbers had been kept down because Sir Chris wanted to make sure he could spend quality time with everyone there, both during the ride and afterwards.

If it had been advertised there would have been hundreds – great for the masses and possibly a few more bike sales, but less of an experience for those who had been chosen to attend.

That’s a bold call for what was essentially a marketing day – hats off to whoever made the choice.

A few members of the public stumbled across it by accident, Sir Chris graciously signed autographs and a couple of kids got a photograph and a special pack of goodies to remember their day.

One lady was very put out that it hadn’t been made public – she didn’t think that was fair at all.

And what’s that got to do with Sales Training?

Recently, one of our customers wanted to recognise their star performers by creating a platinum level within their existing sales academy.

The idea was that we took the top 5% of the sales team and helped increase their current results by an extra 5% – can you imagine the effect that kind of growth has on business at that level? Massive!

Of course some of those who weren’t chosen were furious.

Interestingly it wasn’t the ones who just missed out – that group were determined to make the grade next time round – prove their worth and show the value they could deliver if the business gave them the chance to grow.

Oh no, the sales people who felt slighted by their omission from the platinum group were way off the top 30% and had no intention of changing anything about themselves – as far as they were concerned they were already good enough to get in, it was just that the business couldn’t see it.

4. There’s Always Something New to Learn

It was great to listen to the experiences of someone who had battled hard to be the best at what he did.

There’s a huge difference between having 20 years experience and simply living the same year twenty times.

Some people think they have the experience but have actually only served the time.

I’m not ashamed to tell people that I’m still learning – I read (fanatically), I attend seminars, I’m a member of a round table group and have a couple of mentors.

And I’m willing to pay the price for the RIGHT information – whether that price is time, effort or money – because the cost is usually always a tiny percentage of how much that knowledge pays me back within a very short time frame.

What’s that got to do with Sales Training?

I reckon if your sales team don’t make the cost of the sales training back in new sales and profit within a month of attending – then they probably either weren’t paying attention or the training didn’t work.


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