training in sales management

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Sales training

Originally contributed as a guest blog on SellingPower.com

By Mike Esterday

If you’re like most sales leaders, you’re constantly hunting for the “secret sauce” of sales success. You’re convinced that, once found, that secret sauce will put your organization over the top – and into the rarefied group of consistently top-performing companies.

Look no further. Chances are good that you already have all the ingredients you need. You’ve just added them to the sauce in the wrong proportions.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association to find out what top-performing companies focus on that’s different from the others. The answers were revealing and, in some cases, surprising.

We surveyed leaders at more than 200 sales organizations. We asked them to rate how a salesperson’s achievement drive – that is, their attitudes, beliefs, and passions – affects their performance. Likewise, we asked the same of them about how a salesperson’s product knowledge and selling skills affect performance.

Here’s what may surprise you: More than 80 percent of the respondents rated achievement drive as being of equal or greater value than product knowledge and selling skills in terms of positively impacting sales performance. However, only a quarter of the respondents said they were very effective in delivering sales training that focuses around achievement drive.

That is a tremendous gap between importance and effectiveness on what is potentially the most important driver of sales success.

Here’s the kicker: Those who said they were effective at focusing sales training on achievement drive reported 20 percent stronger results than everyone else.

What about you? Does your sales training emphasize achievement drive and ignite motivation?

What’s Causing the Gap?

If so many executives recognize the value of achievement drive, then why don’t more companies address it in training?

Well, ostensibly, it’s just plain easier to provide salespeople with product information and techniques on what to say and when – and then manage numbers and activities.

But relative ease is only part of the story. In fact, there are plenty of ways leaders rationalize focusing on skill and product training – even when they agree that attitudes and achievement drive play a bigger role in performance.

Based on our study, here are the top four reasons sales leaders ignore attitude and achievement drive in sales training:

  1. Skills and product training are just easier to deliver and measure.
  2. We expect people to have this already when they’re hired.
  3. The subject matter is too personal for corporate training or coaching.
  4. We’ve never done this type of development in our organization.

This isn’t to say that training on product knowledge and selling skills isn’t important. But it will only take your team (and your organization) so far.

When training goes beyond product knowledge and techniques – when it gets to the motivating attitudes that increase achievement drive – that’s where your competitive edge lies.

Top Performers Focus on These Three Critical Conversations

So, what advice can we take away from the lessons of the top-performing companies in our study?

We learned there are three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals:

  1. The conversation I have with my customers – How will I interact in ways that are seen as valuable by customers? This is where training around selling skills/methodology, account strategy, and product knowledge falls.
  2. The conversation I have with myself – Those moments of reflection, inner belief, and personal values are sometimes seen as “intangibles,” but the impact on performance is quite real. This is where training focused around achievement drive comes into play.
  3. The conversation I have with my coach – One of the key determining factors for growth is coaching. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation – a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that salespeople are having all the time – with themselves.

This holistic approach to development requires ongoing commitment from the top and alignment throughout the organization. But, as our research shows, it can be the turbocharger for your success.

When you think about it, it’s not all that surprising. After all, who among us hasn’t felt the undeniable power of self-belief and self-drive? And who wouldn’t want to work for a company that is committed to developing people in a way that unleashes their inner drive and potential? And, just as important, who wouldn’t want to do business with a company that values each salesperson as a whole person – not just a selling machine?

Take a closer look at your sales training approach. Are you missing any of the key conversations that could be the “secret sauce” of your sales success?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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Author and sales expert Dave Kurlan doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the state of sales: “Ineffective salespeople—weak and poor performers—make up a whopping 62% of the sales population.” It’s common that many sales managers feel the daily weight of this statistic.

What contributes to it? We know there is no shortage of books and trainings trying to fix the problem, so why are so many sales professionals struggling?

To answer that question, I asked Alan Allard, founder and CEO of Genius Dynamics, Inc. He is an expert in human behavior and performance improvement for sales professionals and sales leaders and specializes in performance management in organizations.

In my interview, I wanted an answer to this overriding, troublesome dilemma in the sales community, and so posed this question: “Despite all the money invested in training salespeople to sell more, there is still a substantial deficit in the number of effective salespeople. What’s your take on that?”

Alan provided 4 key reasons, which can be used in any area of talent development:

1. Training alone won’t solve our sales challenges – follow-up coaching is essential.

Training is the main go-to resource for increasing sales, but it does not truly facilitate behavior change. Coaching is ideally suited to meet that need. Training can raise awareness, impart important information but it falls short in changing behavior. So, as an example, if a salesperson isn’t consistently asking for referrals, a workshop telling him or her effective language to use is necessary—but not sufficient.

In my experience, this is the challenge with any skill training initiative – talking about a skill, does not a skill make.

2. We’re not asking the right questions.

Alan suggests there are two primary questions sales professionals must be able to sufficiently answer if they want to increase their sales and income.

The first is: “What behaviors or action must I consistently engage in to sell more, to sell faster, or to sell bigger?” The answer would probably entail prospecting for new business, asking for referrals, following an effective sales model, selling on value and not price, providing great service, and so on.

The second question is “How can I get myself to execute the things I already know to do?” Alan went on to share a very important insight that can help sales managers utilize their training budgets much more successfully.

Sales professionals (even new ones) know “what” they need to do. It’s getting themselves to do what they know, and to do it consistently. Every salesperson knows they need to prospect for new clients. But few do it day in and day out. We can learn all the how-tos from sales managers, workshops, books, podcasts and blog posts. The challenge isn’t the knowing—it’s the doing.

3. Sales professionals aren’t adequately dealing with very common performance blockers – guilt and shame.

The ongoing “what” messages they hear without successful change generates guilt and shame. All the continuous training or input from a manager encourages and reiterates the “what”: motivate yourself, be optimistic, and bounce back from your setbacks. But if it doesn’t occur, they feel guilty about not doing what they know to do to reach the next level. That emotional weight then makes it harder for them to do what they must do to sell more effectively.

Sales professionals know guilt and shame slows them down but they don’t know how to stop it and ironically they are too embarrassed to discuss it and many sales managers don’t have the emotional intelligence and therefore insight to sufficiently addressed.

4. Generic sales training is not a one-size fit all – but is treated as such.

They are not customized for the unique needs of each salesperson and leave out “asking the how question”. It’s not that generic training can’t be helpful on some level, however, they do fall short because the how to apply the generic tactics will be very different for each salesperson. We all know motivation is as unique as each person is.

These four reasons really can be applied to any professional skill that needs to be developed from leadership to time management. They summarize the challenges organization have in approaching training, skill, and capability development from a generic, singular, one size fits all approach.

Strategies to Implement

So what’s the solution? Alan suggests and uses a high-impact solution to address the low percentage of successful sales persons. It is a two pronged use of coaching.

External Coaching: This can be done as a one-on-one format or as a facilitated peer group coaching. The first is faster but the second can be very effective. Coaching is ideal for finding specific answers that work for the person being coached. Coaching allows the coach to ask enough questions to dig deep enough to find answers to that “how” question for each sales person.

Internal Coaching: Alan teaches his clients how to utilize self-coaching to reach higher levels of sales success and has done so no matter what level of struggle. The best way to learn how to self-coach, Alan suggests, is to start with being coached by an expert coach. But even if that doesn’t happen, a salesperson can do so with a proficient self-coaching model and external support.

Alan calls his coaching model “GPS.” Here’s a simple introduction to it:

G = Goals (Identify your goals. Are they yours or your sales manager’s? Do you own them?)

P = Plan (What’s your action plan that will get and keep you going? This is where you consider what you’ve been doing so far—what’s worked well and what hasn’t worked so well? What obstacles to your plan have you run up against? What are your solutions?)

S = Support (This includes external and internal support. External support includes a number of things: Do you need more support from your company in some way? Do you need training on your CRM? What do you need from your manager or what do you need more of? Can a colleague help you in some way? Do you need to understand your sales model better—perhaps practice it with your manager or a colleague?)

Internal support means learning how to play the inner game better by self-management, including training psychological and emotional training, mental mastery, and emotional intelligence. This element is the foundation to the rest of the “GPS” model.

Alan’s suggestions teach us that taking a much more committed and strategic approach to sales training and development is absolutely necessary if we do not want our sales force to reside in the 66%. “if you want to learn more about how Alan helps increase sales, visit his website.

As a sales manager or individual sales professional, what next steps will you take to integrate the insight and advice that has been shared?

JoAnn Corley is a passionate champion of human potential with a focus on leadership and organizational success. She has the crazy belief that we can create our best leaders and businesses from the best of our human selves. Her overall mission is to help companies put the human back in human resource though holistic talent management. She leverages her knowledge of human behavior in marketing her boutique consulting firm across a variety of channels. She has been consistently recognized as one of the top 100 most social HR & management experts to follow on social media @joanncorley.

Source:- https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/09/biggest-reasons-sales-not-where-you-want.html

 

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Johnny Walker

Changing behavior isn’t easy. Not only does it take a lot of hard work, but it requires a concrete process that you can trust and follow on a daily basis. Most training courses give you great content, but if that content isn’t deployed or delivered effectively, it is a waste of time and money.

Many organizations not only look for great content, they also look at the entertainment factor: Is the training fun? Is the speaker engaging? Did we get positive feedback from the participants?

These are important, but you can have a perfect score on all of them and your training can be a total flop, simply because the participants can’t apply the principles. It’s not because they aren’t capable of learning and applying the principles; it’s because the deployment methodology isn’t effective.

Too often content is delivered too quickly and too much information is given. It’s like drinking from a fire hose, and it leads participants to forget most of what they learned in 48 hours or less.

To combat this, we need to pay attention to three important components of learning:

1- The Forgetting Curve


I have literally asked thousands of people this question: “How quickly do you forget the information you learn at a corporate training?”

The answers vary, but not by much. Here are a few:

  • A few days
  • A few hours
  • A week
  • 2 weeks

Then I ask, “How much of the training is actually being applied 3 months later?”

The answers are almost always well below 10%. That’s a lot of money being spent on information that is quickly forgotten and never applied!

A study by Ebbinghaus and Goddard found that we typically lose approximately 75% of what we just learned within 48 hours.

After 3 weeks this “forgetting curve” is at 93%. That translates to 7% retention across the board, unless there is accountability to apply the material.

But let’s be honest and admit that the vast majority of the time, the accountability to ensure application of the training material is left up to the managers, many of whom many never have been trained in facilitation techniques or how to coach their people.

It all looks good on paper, but the forgetting curve is seldom overcome. Even at 25% retention, that is a lot of time and money wasted.

50 dollar bill among crumpled pieces of paper. Wasted business idea money waste concept.
With the consistency of follow-up coaching, studies show that retention can be as high as 87% after 30 days. What does this mean for you?

Your training needs to have follow-up coaching built into it for greater comprehension and accountability for application!

2- The Spacing Effect


Just having follow-ups isn’t enough. They have to be spaced out appropriately.

Spacing effect studies indicate that having the follow-ups too close or too far apart decreases recollection and application of the material learned. A month apart can be too long. People forget about the training and simply rush to do the homework. It’s more of a reminder of what they should be doing instead of holding them accountable to applying the principles on a daily basis.

Follow-ups that are too close together can create information overload, and retention rates will decrease, making your follow-ups ineffective.

For soft skills training, we have found that one week is the perfect amount of time for participants to apply what they are learning, and not so long that they forget about it between follow-ups. These are not reminders to see if they can get a question correct, but follow-ups with groups of their peers to learn from each other, share experiences and be held accountable to applying the information. We have seen two weeks apart work, too, but the further apart the follow-ups are, the less effective they become, as daily accountability begins to decrease.

Virtual work environments and dispersed employee populations need to be considered as well. Having the option for group follow-ups by phone is important since many organizations have team members all over the country or even the globe.

Ignoring the spacing effect of retention can cost your organization thousands of dollars in wasted training and greatly reduce the ROI of your training efforts.

3- Limitations of Working Memory


Studies show that if follow-ups have too much information in them, participants won’t be able to retain it all. Recent research has estimated working memory capacity to be about four (4) pieces of information at a time.

This also explains why 1-3 day training sessions are ineffective, no matter how enjoyable they are.

Having a 1-3 day training is fine, if it is only intended to introduce concepts. But because of the limitations of working memory, it is unreasonable to expect that any of your participants will remember more than 25% of the skills covered, let alone be able to put them into practice.

This principle also applies to the follow-up process. The information must be broken down into fewer than five pieces of information per follow-up if you expect people to remember to apply them throughout the week.

So, what does all this mean for training today?

Well, it simply means that for training to be effective you have to make time to follow up with the participants if you want to get the greatest return on your investment!

Deployment matters! The greatest content in the world is useless if it isn’t deployed effectively.

About Author

Johnny Walker

Johnny Walker

 

Johnny Walker is a Business Associate with Integrity Solutions and an executive coach working with both individuals and companies. Through coaching he has been able to assist professionals and teams navigate through difficult changes in company culture, increase job satisfaction, increase job performance, reach goals faster, and increase life satisfaction. A version of this blog post originally appeared here.

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