In our last post, 4 Things You Should Consider Before Committing to A Sales Training Program, we recognized a severe pitfall of training initiatives: Focusing on the WHAT vs. the WHY. In this post, we’re uncovering the next pitfall of sales training: what happens after sales training courses.
Pitfall 2: Investing more in what happens IN the workshop than AFTER the sales training courses.
Everyone understands that training is a process and not an event — it’s almost a cliché. But because most either don’t understand the process or lack the buy-in to implement the process, the truth doesn’t get applied.
So, what is the process? What do most organizations miss in creating their sustainment plan? They lack a plan to ensure that managers are equipped to drive change after their sales training programs — a process that holds sales leaders accountable to develop the competency to lead and coach and the discipline to follow the process. At ASLAN®, we address this through certification.
Significant change happens one-to-one, not in a workshop. Therefore MORE investment is required in developing front-line managers than in developing reps, but all too often, the reverse is true. To ensure managers are equipped to drive change, a certification process should be created that holds managers accountable to:
- Understand the terms and language of the program. They may understand the concepts, but if they fail to use the exact terminology, confusion sets in, and reinforcement is lost.
- Role-model the core competencies. It’s not enough that they understand the terms; they must be able to role-model the necessary skills and strategies taught in the program.
- Accurately diagnose the root cause of the performance gap and prescribe the most effective development plan to bridge the gap.
- Consistently coach their reps, not just talk to their reps about performance or provide tips about how to improve. Coaching requires observing rep’s performance in the field or on the phone. This is THE biggest barrier to sustaining a sales training initiative. If managers don’t free up the bandwidth to consistently observe a rep on a call and create a development plan, training becomes little more than a motivational session, with a few additional tips added to the rep’s bag of tricks.
What about your sales reps?
Similar to the manager, reps need accountability to kick start the learning as well. If the program was successful, participants will leave the classroom with a strong desire to apply what they learned, but change is hard and they need a boost to get over the hump.
The key is to break the program down into a 90-day, self-development plan, one that focuses on one major concept at a time. Very shortly after the sales training course, ask the reps for a commitment to the plan. Then create a mechanism for reporting their progress to both the rep and management.
Our recommendation is NOT to make the application punitive. If you do, the “program” will be seen as the enemy and not as a resource. Results are always the goal, the program and reinforcement tools are just tools to accomplish what THEY want to accomplish. (In the case of a rep that has been consistently below quota or new to the company, we would make adherence mandatory).
As one of the top 20 sales training companies in the country, we understand that it’s important to increase coaching effectiveness while decreasing the time invested. So if you have any questions about our sales training courses, feel free to reach out to us. And stay tuned for Pitfall #3 in our next post by subscribing to our newsletter.