Learning departments face many challenges in the workplace. One of the challenges is the ability to train sales reps in a way that keeps them engaged during training while at the same time, allowing them to see the value in the training. All too often training is viewed as something that must be tolerated, but time could be better spent in the field selling.
How can learning deparments motivate sales reps to embrace training as an imperative tool of the trade?
AND THE ANSWER IS...
Money, it makes the world go 'round.
That phrase that is thrown around quite often in modern society.
If you hear it enough, you may believe it to be the absolute truth in the sphere of sales and the corporate bottom line. In truth, it is the sun's gravitational pull, physics, and a host of other scientific anomalies that allow planet Earth to orbit in space.
Now that we have that cleared up, lets look at how we can make this spinning ball a better place to live. We can do this by having a genuine concern for the people in our circle of influence.
WAIT A MINUTE
I thought this blog was about training, learning, and measurement?
My job is sales training, not worrying about what happens to employees outside the workplace. What does making the world a better place have to do with training sales reps and ultimately, making money? Well, I am glad you asked.
Making the world a better place has everything to do with training and the bottom dollar. Concern for people in your circle of influence is the key to unlock your potential as an effective trainer. Let me explain.
PAINTERS NEED A CANVAS
Donald Kirkpatrick's four levels of evaluation for training have long been the measurement standard when evaluating the effectiveness of training. The four levels are fairly simple concepts, yet can go very deep: reaction, learning, behavior, and results.
If implemented in an effective and efficient manner, these four levels can be used to paint a masterpiece in your training program.
You can think of Kirkpatrick's four levels of evaluation for training as the tools used to paint a masterpiece and concern for your sales force as the canvas on which you paint. Without the canvas, you are merely placing paint in the air which, in the end, will fall to the ground in a big messy pile.
TO SELL OR NOT TO SELL
Learning departments are essentially the front line of the sales force and need to implement effective sales techniques that set up sales reps to become successful. Training that is not executed by the sales force is merely a waste of time. Training becomes a waste of time for the trainer as well as the learner. Not to mention, it does not give your department any validity within the company.
No validity is a quick way for the department to get cut when the budget gets tight.
So how do you "sell" your training? This is done by not trying to "sell" your training. This juxtaposition can be difficult to overcome as learning departments fight for survival while doing their best to keep training from merely becoming a necessary evil in the eyes of the sales force.
The learner needs to take ownership of the training before they can find value in what was taught. From there, the sales reps will eagerly put the training into practice. Learners will take ownership of the training when they know the person leading them has a genuine concern for their well being.
This can appear to be a difficult task depending on the size of your learning department and the method of training used. Investing in employee development is not a should or should not issue, it is a how to issue. Steve Fiehl explains on clomedia.com.
Investing in employee development is a requirement, not only to improve productivity, better serve customers and strengthen company culture but also to recruit and retain talented next-generation executives and foster innovation.
A WORD OF CAUTION
One very important caveat is that the concern must be genuine.
There is no way around this and no shortcut to authentic concern. Artificial concern is easy to recognize because it quickly becomes manipulative. Do not act concerned about people so they will do what you want because it only leads to distrust among employees.
Distrust eventually spirals into a lack of unity within the team. It also renders the training even more ineffective than a person who is honest that they are not concerned about the sales reps they are training. On a side note, if you do not have a passion for people and and a genuine concern for them to succeed, you may be in the wrong profession.
With that said, showing concern for your learners in smaller learning departments with in-house training is relatively simple. You have a unique opportunity to get to know the people you work with and what is going on in their lives.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT CONCERN
One way to do this is by taking time to congratulate employees for their success in life. This may be a career success such as closing a sale, reaching a goal, or getting a promotion. Remember to recognize personal accomplishment as well such as getting married, buying a new car, finishing a 5K race, and so forth.
If your learning department is large and based primarily on virtual learning, it can become difficult to get to know the people you are training. This becomes your challenge, not your excuse.
Concern for humanity comes out in the way you conduct your training, even if you do not know the learner on a personal level. Regardless of how you disseminate your training, there are people within your circle of influence that you can treat with genuine concern. Like the old adage explains: how you say something is more important than what you say.
A LITTLE TIME GOES A LONG WAY
Taking the time to get to know what is going on in the lives of those around you takes the focus off of yourself and places it on others. This limits selfishness and fosters a community of caring. Caring for the people you teach is the canvas on which you paint the masterpiece within the learning department.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Edwardo Salas explains that "If the supervisor cares about your future, you are going to be motivated." Recognizing the accomplishments of others with a handshake or pat on the back takes less than a minute of your day. That one minute investment goes a long way in making your training more effective. This in turn makes the work environment a better place to be and in the end, the world a better place to live.