Paul provides seven things you must do to ensure that your next training initiative sticks.
Focus on the leaders among your sales team, those folks that others look to for advice. Get them onboard with your training initiative and then leverage that bandwagon effect.
Once your team starts utilizing what they’ve learned, it’s imperative that they share their success stories. Salespeople learn from others’ success.
Focus pre-call planning on the recent training objectives. This ensures that your team will review the content before every sales call.
Post-call review. Do it every single time, whether the sale is won or lost.
How do you make training stick? You never stop. Make training part of your culture.
Did you enjoy the podcast? Go to Apple Podcasts to rate/review the podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-q-and-a-sales-podcast/id1485103513. Click “Listen” then the “ratings and reviews” button.
Visit www.ToughTimer.com to get started on the 30-Day Tough-Timer Challenge!
Click here to purchase the latest edition of Value-Added Selling!
Interested in our public seminar offerings? Click here to learn more.
Thank you for tuning in. Our show is updated weekly with the questions you ask. So, please go to the home page to ask the question that you want answered.
Thank you to our production team at The Creative Impostor Studios.
Be sure to follow our show in your favorite podcast app and share this episode with a colleague or friend.
And most importantly…make it a big day.
How do I make training stick?
(Transcribed from podcast)
So yesterday, I was having lunch with one of my clients and there was a topic that came up that many sales leaders have discussed and have grappled with over the years. And the question is, “How do we make the training stick? How do we take this, one-day, two-day, quarterly training, and how do we reinforce that? How do we keep the message alive?” And that’s what we’re going to focus on in today’s episode.
What I’m going to share with you are basically seven ideas. These are seven ideas that I share with my clients, so, you’re getting it straight from the horse’s mouth. This is what you need to do to make sure your next training initiative will stick. Now, clearly, we focus more on sales training on this show, given it’s The Q and A Sales Podcast, but many of these techniques can be utilized whether you’re talking about leadership training, any type of training that you’re engaged in. So, we’re going to get right into it. How do I make training stick?
Now before we do that, just a reminder to pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. Earlier this week I read an article showing that the—. I guess Wall Street Journal interviewed their economists and they put the chance of a recession at 48%. So, that number’s actually down. It’s been over 50% for the past year or so. But either way, I mean, it’s a coin flip at this point, if we are going to get into a recession. The last thing you want to do is, a year from now, say, “Gosh, I wish I would’ve read Selling Through Tough Times. Right now is the time to prepare. Pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. It’s available wherever you get your books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, you name it, you can find it there.
So let’s get back to that question: How do I make training stick? Well, anytime you’re going through training, you’re going to need the help of your team. In this case, you’re going to need help from individuals on the sales team to make the training stick. And I encourage sales leaders to focus on those top supporters. These are going to be successful salespeople. Salespeople that others look up to. They reach out to them for advice. They are, oftentimes, leaders among the sales team. Your goal is to get them on board with what you’re trying to accomplish. Your goal is to get them fully engaged in the training. And what will happen is you can leverage the old bandwagon effect. As these salespeople demonstrate their commitment to your initiative and what they’re trying to do, more people are going to come on board. They’re going to attract people to this movement. And so, we want to target those top supporters, get them fully engaged in the training. And I would encourage you to get them involved early in the process. Have whoever is conducting the training talk to your top people, get their feedback, their thoughts, make them part of the process from the beginning. They’re more likely to commit throughout the entire engagement, so focus on those top supporters.
What does that look like? Well, let’s say you have a team of a hundred salespeople. These are going to be the top 10%. Look at the top 10% within your sales team, and those are going to be the likely targets. These are the individuals we want to get fully on board. Get them on board. Everyone else will fall in line. That’s tip number one.
Tip number two, share success stories. After any training engagement, whether it’s a seminar, whether it’s a virtual session, a 60-minute keynote, you name it, one of the action items should be require each one of the participants to apply one idea, one thing they’ve learned from the training within the next few days. That’s critical. We want them to take one idea, one takeaway, one action, and apply it within a few days. And then once they apply what they’ve learned, we want to get success stories. This is critical. We know that salespeople learn from other sellers’ success.
I can’t tell you how many times this happens when I am working with a sales team. Let’s say it’s a group of 20 or 30 salespeople. We’re sitting around, we’re having lunch. One salesperson will talk about a challenge that he’s trying to deal with. Another salesperson will say, “Oh yeah. I recently have experienced the same thing. I was able to do this, this, and this, and it helped me get through.” That seller is looking at what has been successful, and they want to do duplicate it. That’s what good salespeople do. That’s what good professionals do in general. They look at what is already working, and they try to apply the same logic. So once your people take action on one item, and they’re able to see some success, they’re sharing that with the rest of the group, that is continued learning. Share success stories at every meeting, every conference call. Every time you’re working one-on-one with a salesperson, find a way to share successes. Salespeople learn from others’ success. That’s critical.
Number three. This is a no-brainer, and it’s the one thing your people can do that will help them become more successful immediately. And that is to pre-call plan. Pre-call planning that is tailored to your training will help your salespeople be more successful.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you conduct a training on how to present more effectively to customers. That’s the training. What you want to do is tailor your pre-call planning around the content that you learned. For example, let’s say in part of this presenting-to-customers training, you highlighted,
- Okay, let’s communicate the impact of our solution.
- Let’s ask these three questions.
- Let’s present using this type of analogy.
Those three items can be pre-call planning mandates. You can set up a pre-call planning guide based on the objectives from the training that you just experienced. And in doing so, what you’re doing is you’re forcing them to review the content before every single sales call. So pre-call planning is critical. Our research shows that 95% of top achievers routinely plan every single call that they go on. So you must simply take the objectives from your training—the key action items or key takeaways, whatever it may be—make those the focal point of their pre-call planning routine. Very simple, but very powerful.
The next piece—conduct a thorough post-call review. Our research shows this is where most of the learning takes place. It’s not during the sales call, it’s not before the sales call. It’s after the sales call where a salesperson can take an open and honest look at the information exchange, at the sales call. They can review what they just covered in the sales call and determine how successful they were or not: Was it a good information exchange? How was the chemistry between you and the buyer? Did you achieve your call objectives? Were you successful? Why were you successful? If you weren’t successful, what went wrong? How can you improve on it next time? These simple post-call review questions will help you learn.
Now we learn from our successes, too. I know we often say, “Hey, you learn from your failures,” and that is true. But you can also learn from your successes. So don’t just focus on our review when you fail; focus when you succeed as well. That’s another great way to reinforce the training. And part of your post-call review can, again, be tailored to the training content that you just covered: Did you check these boxes? Did you do this, this, and this? Again, it’s a way to keep it front and center.
Next, repetition is key. If you’re the sales leader asking, “How can I keep this message alive,” it means you are the one who has to keep it alive, and you do that through constant repetition. The best sales leaders that we’ve worked with make it a habit to do what other sales leaders don’t want to do. And one of those things is training. You know, they assume that the training department or an outside consultant can handle the heavy lifting there. You really have to take ownership and you have to be the one cheerleading this. So as the sales leader, at every conference call, make sure you’re dedicating time to training. It could be 5-10 minutes. At every company meeting, dedicate time, whether it’s a half day, full day, or even just 20-30 minutes. Make training part of your culture.
And, it has to be a campaign. It can never stop. Training is not an event. How do you make training stick? You never stop training. That’s how. If you find yourself saying, “Gosh, I think I’ve said this too much,” you probably haven’t said it enough yet. Every time you repeat it, it’s going to stick a little bit more. We want to make this part of who they are, how they sell. Repetition is going to be key, so look for those opportunities.
Next, let’s look at some case studies. One of the best ways to train salespeople is to get them involved. Yes, role-playing is critical. So, yes, continue to role-play, but also consider case studies. Case studies are common business scenarios that your salespeople face every day. What I would do is create one of those real scenarios. Have one of your salespeople type up a few paragraphs just describing, “Hey, here’s what I’m working on right now. Here’s the opportunity. And then get in small groups and have your team members talk through how they would apply what they’ve learned through training, to this scenario. This is a way to engage all salespeople, to get some information sharing.
And again, what we’re doing here is we’re getting them to think like the salespeople we want them to be. We’re getting them to think through training: talking, sharing ideas, concepts. And what happens here is they start to think, and we know that our attitude drives our behavior. We move in the direction of our thoughts. So the more they’re thinking about it, the more likely they are to apply it. And if they apply it and it works, it sticks. So you make it sticky through case studies. That’s one example.
And then, finally, demonstrate your commitment to this training. You have to be the cheerleader. You have to be the one making the tough calls. You have to be the model that you want your people to mimic. So how we do that is we have to have a clear understanding of the concepts, the ideas, the principles. We have to make them our own. We have to constantly connect the content from the training room into the real world. You have to be the translator. You have to be that connector and demonstrate your commitment to the overall principles of what you’re trying to teach.
One example from a client—. You know, with Value-Added Selling, our mission is to help salespeople sell more profitably and compete on value and not price. So this one client had a great tool that they would use to help demonstrate their commitment. To encourage their people to sell more profitably and hold the line and not discount, they put some new parameters in place. Number one, they took away their salesperson’s ability to offer discounts. They went to a structured pricing model to where salespeople could not deviate from that model. The price is what it is.
Next, if the salesperson was requesting a discount, the manager had a three-step process they would go through to see if this situation warranted a discount or not. And, basically, those three parameters were outlined by the training that they went through. For example, they were coaching their people to meet with all the right decision makers. They were coaching their people to differentiate their value-added solution, and they were also coaching their salespeople to present a compelling reason why the customer should buy from them.
And so the management team used those parameters to determine whether a discount was worthy or not. They turned it into a conversation. And if they don’t feel the salesperson has basically differentiated their alternative or communicated impact, they don’t grant the discount. They force them to hold the line. So, I love these parameters put in place. It demonstrates commitment.
Well, that is the show for today. Just a quick recap. Here were the seven ideas:
- Number one, target top supporters.
- Number two, share success stories.
- Number three, thorough pre-call planning expectation.
- Number four, thorough post-call routine as well.
- Number five, repeat the training. Repeat the training.
- And also use case studies. That’s number six.
- And finally, number seven—demonstrate your commitment.
Make it a big day.