I work with a variety of Birmingham, Atlanta, and Chicago organizations in various fields, from healthcare to restaurant equipment. Over the years, I’ve seen many companies achieve sales growth that far exceeded their goals after investing in training.
– One healthcare client achieved a 33% increase in referrals, the life-blood of their business, in just eight months.
– Another saw in 8% increase in net profits and increased referrals by 150%.
– An industrial supply company realized a 15% growth in sales in only 12 months.
These companies achieved more than they thought possible, while others basically threw away the money they spent on training.
So what’s the difference? What makes one company wildly successful, while the others never see a significant or lasting increase in their results?
It boils down to the attitudes their leaders take toward sales training. There are two simple reasons world-class sales organizations get the results they do from their training programs.
1. They regard training as a process, not an event.
Most managers arrange training in a transactional format. There is a day and time for the event, and it only happens once. They hold workshops, seminars, and web-based learning sessions. The attendees show up, listen, and leave. That’s it. There’s no repetition, no follow-up, and no long-term measurement for retention and application. That’s why no measurable or sustainable change takes place.
People who get more than their money’s worth from training commit to a training process that is done over a period of time. They know that short training segments that incorporate and are followed by repetition helps their sales reps retain the information they learn. Instead of booking a four-hour workshop, they hold four, one-hour training sessions on the same topic. Each session reinforces and builds on what was taught in the previous one as new material is introduced.
2. They participate in the training themselves and help their sales reps implement what they learn.
Sales managers who don’t attend training sessions may as well be throwing their money into a fire. Your sales reps’ learning must be reinforced through evaluation and coaching. You can’t possibly perform those functions if you don’t even know what they were taught.
The most successful sales managers participate in and track the progress of the training. They speak the language of the new material or process, and they help their reps put it into practice.
When they find employees not effectively applying the information or new process, they give a re-medial learning assignment. When it is complete, the manager follows up to ensure the employee can apply the information.
“But what if I can’t do this?”
To achieve true and lasting change in sales results, you must have buy-in from everyone, at all levels. Participation by senior level management is a major step in getting buy-in. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
If you are a sales leader and you do not want to participate in training and coach your sales reps, I humbly suggest that you are in the wrong line of work and would be happier doing something else. It will be difficult for you to achieve success and you will be throwing training dollars away. Your arm’s-length position tells your people the class you’re sending them to is not that important, and no one will be holding them accountable for what they learn.
If you do want to participate, but don’t know how to coach, that is something you can outsource, for now, and learn to do in the process. Your commitment is the key factor. Choose a training program, take the training yourself, and engage the trainer to teach you how to coach. If you commit to an ongoing process of internal transformation, you will be one of the successful leaders who realize the greatest possible ROI for their training dollars.
Want to design an ongoing training and coaching program to transform your company into a world-class sales organization?
Contact me for a free consultation today!