Sales training and development.
If you work in learning and development, you understand that creating an enjoyable learning experience is harder than it seems.
Everyone in the learning field has experienced feelings of frustration. Sometimes conducting a training event seems like a herculean task. We've all tried to teach someone only to be met with blank stares, or worse yet, participants who fall asleep during boring training sessions, or fast-forward through a tedious e-learning exercise.
But take heart: There are scientifically proven ways to improve the learning process or at least make it so that employees don’t avoid training events.
And when your sales reps participate in their training, they open the door to improved skills and more effective behaviors.
It may take time, but you can design and deliver sales training that will benefit your employees and your organization.
Let me ask you this question…
Are You Sick And Tired Of Lackluster Training Sessions?
According to Accenture, companies who want to take action to improve sales effectiveness need to
"build talent strategies, competencies, learning models and analytics capabilities to create agility, speed and stronger integration inside and outside the organization."
Nothing wrong with focusing on sales effectiveness to hit revenue goals. Except for one problem.
Research by TrainingIndustry.com found that “aggregate metrics for sales effectiveness have failed to reach pre-2000 levels at any point in the last decade. With revenue growth as job number one, it’s critical to identify core reasons as to why companies aren’t attaining a higher return on their educational investments in sales.”
So why do employees resist training initiatives? And what can L & D practitioners do to overcome these barriers?
Help People Learn By Zeroing In On the Causes
If you teach anything to anyone, you know if performance isn't improved, you’ve missed the mark. Best practices for effective learning and development programs can give you some help designing training that makes an impact. Ask yourself the following questions to nail down exactly what’s derailing your training events.
- Do your employees care? In many cases, training participants lack motivation. This could be caused by many factors. Maybe they don’t see any benefit to the training. In their eyes, your training topics may not seem relevant to your employees’ jobs.
- Are you the chairman of the bored? Are your training events dull? Not many folks get excited about another boring slide deck. If you don't involve the participants or if the class is too long, don’t be surprised to see eyes glazing over and people nodding off.
- Does one size fits all really fit your participants? One of the biggest hurdles that learning and performance professionals must deal with is that student skill levels vary. If you fail to take into account the different experiences of the learners, your training efforts may fall flat.
- How does your staff view training? In many sales organizations training isn’t linked to workplace performance. When the message is about getting it done, not about what value training has for your sales reps, they tend to look at training as a chore….or worse yet--a punishment.
There is no doubt that many of us responsible for learning events could use some help. But one thing is certain: More of the same won’t work.
There is a better way.
How To Make People Line Up And Beg To Get Sales Training
Want to know how to turn brain-numbing training into a learning experience that promotes strong sales skills? Follow these suggestions for improving learning instruction and course delivery.
- Earn their attention: If you want participants of training to reap all of the benefits, you need engagement. As bestselling author Scott Berkun observes, “no one learns anything when they’re bored or unconscious.” Tell your employees how the training will benefit them. And then deliver. Find ways to make your training engaging, educational, and entertaining. Also, don’t assume your lesson is perfect for all participants. Help all of your sales reps improve by using differentiated instruction. That means you’ll need to teach the same topic, but on different levels.
- Improve delivery: 85% of every dollar spent on classroom training is spent delivering it (instructor time, travel, etc). It’s time to fix that. Michael Rochelle, Chief Strategy Officer for the Brandon-Hall Group notes that "In a world of learning and development where complexity is the enemy, [organizations need a] simple and nimble approach to delivering high quality learning, anywhere, anytime." Software and mobile tools can help reduce the cost of training delivery, leaving more funds for learning content development.
- Involve your employees in training: Not long ago, a wise teacher with many years of classroom experience told me, “In the classroom, he who does the work, does the learning.” What he meant by that was if you want people to learn, you need to get them involved in the process. If you think that’s only true in the classroom setting, consider this: According to Fast Company, “at Google employees teach about 55% of the company’s official classes…[because] the company thinks it’s a good business idea to have employees teach employees.”
- Provide context: One of the first orders of business is to help sales reps see the value in their training. In the highly-recommended book How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, the authors observe that “the context, the culture within which education is offered usually is a major factor in terms of how receptive students are.” In other words, if you want to get your sales reps motivated about learning, you need to show them how the training will help them do their jobs better.
- Connect training to producing business results: Is your sales training generating sales? To know for sure, you need to be able to discover the ROI of a training event. Only by tracking employee behavior and can you create an environment that bridges the gap between program learning and producing measurable business results. Plan to reinforce learning after training in order to extend the impact of learning events.
- Involve the sales manager: In his book Getting Your Money's Worth from Training and Development: A Guide to Breakthrough Learning for Managers and Participants, Andrew Jefferson, J.D. suggests L& D leaders “fully exploit the relationship of each learner with their own supervisor, since the quality of that involvement around training and development is the number #1 indicator of successful transfer from learning to improved job performance.”
If you want to boost sales performance through training events, these tips can help you connect better with employee learning. Your sales reps will appreciate it.
Are you struggling with your sales training? Leave a comment and let us know, or join the conversation by tweeting to @HireVueSales
(image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Dan)