Nothing is more frustrating than investing the time to identify the need, design, develop, and deliver great sales training and then discover that sellers aren’t implementing what they learned when they get back to the field.
Whether you’re delivering product or soft skills training, participant time away from the job is expensive and your organization has a right to expect to see a sizeable return on their investment.
Executives and sales managers often lament that while they can quickly tell us how much they’ve spent on training their sellers in a given quarter or year, pointing to actual behavior changes and sales increases is not always as easy. Increase the value of your training by changing the way you think and plan for sustainable implementation.
Design and Develop: Confirm with your stakeholder, the business value and observable behaviors the organization is expecting at the end of the training, then 3 and 6 months later. Are they looking for an increase in new client opportunities in the pipeline, reduced sales cycles, or more up-selling?
As training is designed and developed, use learning objectives and module goals as beacons to create the training content. Conceptualize and then validate exactly what it is you and the stakeholder expect from participants at defined milestones. Use those measurable behaviors as a yardstick. Hold the developing content and activities up against it to ensure their value.
Deliver: Tell sellers early exactly what’s expected of them by the end of the training. Show them the WIIFM, what’s in it for them, and how the improvement in their skills will directly impact their sales results, goal attainment, and pocket-book. Finally, tell them how their skills will be observed and measured by their manager.
Today’s adult learners are sophisticated, constantly seeking short cuts to get results quicker. We’ve found that compulsory learning paths don’t always work, especially with sellers. Learners will implement only those skills and tools that make them more productive, faster. We’re amazed at the success achieved when we involve learners as much as possible in the interpretation and application of the content. They feel a sense of ownership and want to try new techniques. Be flexible in your delivery even if it means diverging from the path you’ve defined. Let them share their own experiences and hardships and apply them to the techniques you’re training.
Use the measurable sales behaviours as the goal you’re all striving for. For example, if you’re focused on moving a solution sales force to a consultative approach, measure behaviors like executive meetings and quarterly business reviews.
Evaluation: Involve the managers and team leads who’ll be supporting and helping implement the desired sales behavior changes throughout the design, development and delivery process. They’re busy people who’re often challenged when told it ‘s their responsibility to “coach” their teams. Managers that we repeatedly work with expect us to interview them early in the training process to clearly understand their team’s current – and desired behaviors. With a clear picture of how the sales training is designed to help reach the measurable business goals, they buy-in early and support participation from pre-class prep work, through delivery, and into implementation.
A component of our classes that managers now look for and appreciate is a checklist of content covered paired with expected, observable sales behaviour, and desired business results. As managers discover what behaviours to look for and have available resources from the class content and activities, they’re ready to “coach” at every possible opportunity from listening in on a sales call to participating in an on-site demonstration or assisting in negotiating the final contracts.
Waiting until after sales training has been delivered to consider how it will be implemented and who’ll be responsible for supporting it doesn’t work. Insert the implementation conversation earlier in the instruction design process and watch how quickly sales behaviors change.
About the Author:
Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, author of the award winning book Selling Against the Goal and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events.