Seven Awesome Tips to Reinforce Sales Training
For those of you who know me, I vacation on Martha's Vineyard every summer, hence the name, Menemsha Group. A couple of years ago I decided to take a kite-boarding lesson. While it was fun and a great day on the water it actually surprised me with how much there is to know and do while navigating the kite/harness and maintaining your balance (and not letting the wind blow you into shore or Europe for that matter). Despite the fact that the instructor properly managed my expectations by telling me "plan on taking at least two lessons before you get up and get the hang of it," I returned to the house feeling frustrated and defeated. The problem was my expectations were completely out of whack! I was planning on catching 20 feet of air!
I got home, my wife saw I was disappointed and basically laughed at me. She said "you tried it once for like 3-4 hours and you expected to do what?" That got me thinking. Specifically, I started thinking about how much time a professional athlete such as Tim Brady or Peyton Manning puts into being a top quarterback. Or how much time Tiger Woods spends at the driving range. I started thinking about how much time, education, repetition and dedication it takes to become a professional at anything. In fact, there is a statistic that says in order to become an expert you need to invest 10,000 hours. 10,000 hours! I put in a whopping 3.5 hours into kite boarding!
I've come to learn that most staffing owners and CEO's have inflated expectations when it comes to improving sales performance via sales training. When sales are down and people are not hitting quota, management's tendency is "we'll fix sales with a one day workshop or motivational speech or webinar." The problem with these "quick fix" solutions is that they typically fail to come with a plan for leading change, reinforcing the skills and sustaining sales transformation including the new and desired behaviors taught in the training. Very rarely is the material ever followed-up or are team members tested on their ability to execute what they learned. As a result, the material sits and collects dust and management sees no improvement. Everyone is frustrated and disappointed. What staffing firms really need is a sales enablement solution, not another training event!
Here is what usually happens after trying to apply a sales training "event." Sales professionals usually say....
- "I don't remember what was covered in the sales training"
- "I don't have the tools to apply the sales training material"
- "I tried the suggestions from the training but it didn't work"
- "Give me more time to practice the new material"
According to ES Research, 85-90% of sales training has no lasting impact after 120 days. Another study by the Harvard Business Review showed that only 10% of the population has what they call "a learning mindset." What they mean by that is only 10% of the population will go home after attending a class or webinar and repeatedly study the material until they internalize it. This of course is all supported by the Forgetting Curve.
So, why isn't sales skills training (or event) training not enough? Well, I can watch a Step Curry instructional basketball video, but does that mean I will shoot like Steph Curry immediately following the video? Of course not. Say for example you teach your sales team the skill of asking "pain probing questions." Would they know exactly when to ask each question in a conversation immediately following the video? Would they be able to deliver it with the right tonality and within the context of the conversation? Would they even have the self confidence in asking these questions with little or no practice (role play)? Would they be able to ask "pain probing" questions across a cross segment of your customers? Probably not. Why? Leaders need to understand change management and how to effectively lead change. Your change management plan needs to include a user reinforcement and adoption plan which brings me to my point.
Seven Awesome Tips to Reinforce Sales Training
1.) Use blended learning that incorporates both "class room" training (this can include webinars as well) and online learning with certification exams, reporting and analytics.
2.) Make training materials (handouts, job aids, sales play books & videos) available on line for sales team members to quickly review and reference when needed
3.) Use content email to reinforce key concepts and drive specific sales behaviors with your team members
4.) Host weekly "fireside chats" with team members to discuss topics, issues and reinforce key concepts
5.) Conduct weekly team calls to share success stories of where the new training material paid off
6.) Role play daily. Yes, daily. Do it and you will win, simple as that.
7.) Provide one-on-one sales coaching daily. A manager or sales leader should sit with each individual sales representative for a few hours each week providing coaching and reinforcement of best practices. This drives change in sales behavior.
To learn more about how sales enablement differs from sales training download our ebook, The Staffing Leaders Guide to Sales Enablement.