The top reason good sales people leave an organization is their boss. A sub reason is that their boss doesn’t invest in their development. Providing simple sales training is easy. Developing a systematic approach to skill development is not.
Training is your responsibility as a sales leader. Don’t leave it to L&D, the training department, or a 3rd party. They may assist, but the ongoing development of your people falls squarely on you.
There are many reasons why sales training efforts fail. We aren’t going to focus on those reasons in this article. We are going to focus on making training successful. For Sales Leaders, training success is defined as sustainable skill improvement that can be monetized. Training should lead to observable behavior change in your team. It shouldn’t be focused on your product or company.
Execute training as outlined below and your team will value it. The best part is that you can start doing this today. You own it.
The first step is training on the right topics. Don’t train on yesterday’s topics. Click here to download the top 5 skills for today’s ‘A’ player. I also provide a training meeting agenda template you can use for your next meeting. Download them now to make your people better. Investing in your best people will keep them engaged.
Pick the right topic – don’t train on your product or service. Train on a skill your customer finds valuable. The topic should require interaction and be a complex skill. If the topic can be learned with self-study, don’t waste your team’s time.
Set Clear objective(s) – be very clear why the training is taking place and the results expected. Baseline both leading and lagging metrics.
Assign Pre-work – get your team thinking about the topic prior to the meeting. Have them bring examples and questions to make the session more productive. Use e-learning/LMS systems to start teaching the topic and get the participants engaged.
Set Expectations (5 mins) – let everyone know what is expected of them during the meeting.
Cover the topic (15 mins) – transfer knowledge on the topic. Give everyone a clear understanding of what the skill is. Make the topic impactful by incorporating video, audio, and humor. Also have your A players lead some of these sessions.
Use Cases and the contrast method (20 minutes) – take a recent win where the skill was executed properly. Then take a loss where it wasn’t. This will transform the discussion from theoretical to real. Theoretical training doesn’t stick. Make it real with use cases from the field.
Role Plays (40 minutes) – “Perfect practices makes perfect” – John Wooden. If you aren’t utilizing role plays, you are failing your team. They work. Roles play the skill and have your team provide feedback to their peers. This builds peer accountability and teamwork.
Wrap up/Next Steps (10 minutes) – gain commitment on what behaviors will change. Ask the participants what they will do differently this week. Ask how they want you to help hold them accountable and support them. Leave with a clear understanding of the path forward.
Reinforcement – don’t do training if you aren’t planning on reinforcing it. You are wasting time. Here are the forms of reinforcement that are most effective?
- Peer Accountability – have influential participants reinforce the key concepts with the team and lead by example.
- Direct Observation – get in the field and see if they are using what they learned. Nothing beats real time coaching.
- Immediate Best Practice Sharing – when you see someone use the training tell others. Make them feel good for attempting, whether successful or not.
- 1-on-1 Debriefs – keep talking about it. Your team is watching to see if you are serious about sticking with it.
- Positive Reinforcement – make people feel good about the little wins related to the training. This will encourage usage of the new behavior.
Determine what you are going to measure and broadcast leading success indicators. Use multiple channels to do so. i.e. – CRM social features like Chatter or Jive, meetings, email.
5 different levels of indicators:
- Level 1 – Observed behavior change
- Level 2 – Advancing deals
- Level 3 – Winning deals
- Level 4 – Quota attainment
- Level 5 – Lagging company indicators (revenue & margin)
Make your sales development program more effective today. Train on the New ‘A’ Player Topics. The investment will keep your top people engaged and improve results.