Here is a statistic that may shock you. After college, less than 2% of adults in America ever read a book. Reflect on that for a moment. This should help you realize why sales are not getting better. I know I was guilty of that for quite some time. I wrote a post a couple weeks ago about reading books and why it is so important. Today, I want to talk about training your team and why it is crucial.
BEFORE WE GET STARTED WE NEED TO AGREE ON ONE THING
Put simply, training is an investment, not an expense. If you do not see it that way or are not open to seeing it that way, I cannot help you. I strongly suggest spending some time in deep personal reflection. Remember, you manage things and lead people. The Manager mentality views training as an expense, the leader mentality, an investment.
Many of you reading this have seen this quote before. I don't know where it originated, but It resonates with me. Speaking from first hand experience, most training suffers from a few key common problems.
FIRST KEY PROBLEM: TRAINING NOT RELEVANT
You've probably sat in on training before and thought "why am I here? This has nothing to do with my job." Some training like that is necessary; legal mandates and compliance can play a role in these items. What counts as relevant? The training directly impacts the ability of the trainee to do their job better. What's the fix? Instead of all day seminars for big groups, think smaller breakout sessions, with specific goals to achieve (perhaps a specific skill).
SECOND KEY PROBLEM: THROWING THEM IN THE FRYING PAN
This probably sounds familiar too. You expect your sales managers to train your people (or maybe you don't, that is key problem 2.5). One day, you tell your sales managers to "start sales training tomorrow." Then you run away and hide, at least that's what it feels like to the your sales manager. Here's the thing, most of your managers have done little to develop themselves since being put in that role. ( If this statement offends some of you, one of two things; you are one of the good ones, or you have a unreasonably high opinion of yourself). Because of this lack of development, they tend to think back to what their old boss used to do and it rarely works. They love to encourage role play. Here's the problem with role play. The person playing the customer can make up anything they want at any moment. That often results in these far flung customer scenarios that really don't help anyone do anything better. What's the fix? Role play is really meant to help with three things: get your people asking the right questions, get them comfortable thinking on their feet and get them comfortable speaking. With that in mind, I suggest starting a Toastmasters group for your sales team. If you don't have enough people to start your own group, their are thousands of them around the world and joining costs less than $100 a year per person. Also, instead of role play, have your reps share the questions they got from customers in the past week and open the floor to let all team
members give their response. That is a great way to learn from one another.
THIRD KEY PROBLEM, FIRE HOSE AND NO FOLLOW UP
There is a tendency in training to make your people drink from a fire hose for 2 or 3 days and then send them out to the world with almost zero follow up. The managers don't want to do it, they are angry they were taken out of the field for 3 days. The reps are also angry for being out of the field for 3 days and they know that whatever they were "taught" will be forgotten in a few months ( maybe even less). Pick a program that gives your people small, short duration sessions that come with assignments building to completion and certification. Dale Carnegie Training has a class simply known as "The Dale." It is 3 hours, one night a week for 8 weeks. Once you finish, your world has changed, for the good. Seek out programs like that.
CALLS TO ACTION!
First: Believe that training is an investment, not an expense.
Second: Help your leaders lead; give them guidelines, ask them for feedback, share ideas between departments.
Third: Contact me, I love talking about this topic. 443-808-1670 or firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS IS GRATUITOUS SELF PROMOTION, I HOPE YOU LIKE IT.