Many sales managers have become frustrated with sales training programs and have largely given up on pursuing training for their reps. They have paid thousands of dollars for training in the past and received little or no return on that investment.
Unfortunately, instead of trying to find the root causes behind why the training didn’t work, they sometimes default to assuming the trainer they hired didn’t do a good job. They may even conclude that sales trainers are all hype. Or they may decide that their people just don’t have what it takes to be really stellar sales reps.
The reality is that most sales managers in this situation are unaware of the ways in which their own decisions and actions set them up for failure from the beginning.
Here are three actions that will wreck your training initiatives:
1. Choosing a training course for the wrong reason
Many decision-makers think first about the cost of training, in terms of both money and time, as though it were more important than the results the training can deliver. They choose a training program based on price or how long it will take their reps out of the field. This approach is a mistake.
Unless you’re a car dealer, you probably don’t focus on being the low-cost provider as you promote your own products or services. You focus on the exceptional value you provide. If you wouldn’t sell based on price, why would you buy that way?
Make your decision based on total value rather than the size of the check you’ll have to write or the revenue you’ll lose while the reps are training rather than selling. It is better to take your sales force out of the field for two days of intensive training that will help them produce more than to take them out for a half-day seminar that isn’t deep enough to result in real and lasting change.
Choose training based on the long-term revenue growth it will spur rather than the short-term cost.
2. Choosing “fake training”
The majority of “training” is geared toward knowledge transfer – telling people what they need to know. But if knowledge transfer is the goal, training is not happening. The class or seminar may be called “sales training,” but in reality, it is merely sales product or sales process education.
Real training is geared toward behavior change, which cannot be achieved with a one-time shot. Training only happens if it is followed by practice and repetition.
Think of a sports team. The coaches may present a lot of white board plays and review a lot of films, but nothing happens until they practice on the field. In sports, practice happens every day and the players get continuous feedback from their coaches on how well they are implementing what they’ve learned and how to be more effective. The players and coaches work together until they are consistently doing things the way they must be done to win games.
The same is true for sales training. If the end goal is to help your players win more often, you must go beyond transferring knowledge or presenting a concept. They must get on the field, practice what they’ve learned, and receive regular coaching until they are consistently doing things the way they must be done to win sales.
3. Not participating in the training yourself and owning the results you get
Your sales team is looking to you for buy-in. If you don’t participate in the training, you are sending them the message that what they’re doing isn’t important enough for you to be involved.
Furthermore, they know from the outset that you won’t be holding them accountable for implementing what they learn. How can you hold them accountable when you don’t even know what they’re supposed to be doing? The good reps will take away a few good principles and attempt to apply them, but how well they do will be left up to intuition and guess work. Left unmeasured, the mediocre reps will give up at the first challenge they encounter and will revert to their old habits within 30 days.
As their leader, you must be invested in the training yourself before, during, and after. It’s up to you to identify and monitor key performance indicators to measure how well they are applying the new skills, and to know those skills yourself well enough to provide ongoing coaching to help them keep improving. That’s a proven way to get the maximum value from your training programs.
Ready to make real training work for you?
There are several training options ranging from monthly, self-paced learning to customized, in-house courses and topic-specific workshops. Contact me for a free questionnaire designed to assess where your team needs to improve.