Why Training Doesn’t Work

This may sound like a career limiting statement coming from someone that you perceive as a sales trainer, but sales training that is conducted on an “event” type of basis simply does not work. There are ways to achieve positive change through training, and there are ways to spend several thousand dollars for no change.

Over the years we’ve been hired by clients for a 1 hour kick off motivational keynote, we’ve been hired for 3 days of intense sales process training and we’ve been hired for everything in between.  Different types of training accomplish different goals.  We’ve learned a few things along the way. If your goal is to transform the organization to achieve goals like increasing sales or increasing profit margin, then the actual training itself is only10% of the overall process.

Consider the following before you spend your valuable dollars on sales training:

Step 1: Change begins with the Implementation Plan

Begin your transformation with the end in mind.  What are the metrics that will be measured for the sales person, managers and related team members to achieve?  Is the leadership going to hold them accountable for achieving goals? For example, to achieve 10% growth in revenue, you’ve calculated that each sales person needs to meet with 1 additional qualified prospect per day; the skill being developed is new business development.  How do hold them accountable for that number? The measure of success could be an email that the sales person sends to the customer as a summary of that meeting.  This is an auditable measure by the manager and the manager’s manager.  Those emails not only provide a quantitative measure, but managers, even the CEO, can peek into an email and see the quality of the customer interactions. How well was the skill being utilized captured in the follow up e mail? Is this a qualified prospect as defined by the metric to add 1 new per day?

Step 2:  Reinforcement and Coaching as part of Management’s “Operating Rhythm”

Sales skills enhanced or gained in a training session are 80% forgotten after the first 30 days.  Why?  When not practiced or measured with a 3rd party, there’s often little to no change in behavior.  The formula for reinforcement is:  a) apply the skill learned b) share results with the coach and then c) reinforce the behavior.  First, get attendees to apply new skills in the field, and do this one skill at a time.  This could be a verbal or written sales skill, then coach.  Ask the individual specific questions pertaining to the outcome desired. For the example above, did they meet (or converse) with 1 new, qualified prospect. Frame questions that help them to understand what went well and where correction needs to happen. Next, ask them how they can improve their results. Effective coaches help the person being developed to find their own answers.  Finally, ask would happen if next time you tried…. and insert a specific recommendation.  Another method is to reinforce a skill that’s lacking by reviewing a video of someone who is good at the skill execution, or practicing a future conversation with a recording.