Every time you offer the course, the room is on fire with enthusiasm, and sales reps that attend can’t stop gushing about what an amazing learning experience it was.
And, yet…you can’t help being a tad disappointed with the lack of traction you are getting from such a powerful and popular program.
Sure, you see some reps applying a few of the tools and techniques they learned.
But, for the most part, it’s pretty much business as usual.
What on earth is going on?!
I’ll share a secret with you. Most people can’t connect the dots. They don’t know how. This is true for even very smart people.
Few people know that I started my career in sales. I was a sales rep for an agency selling temporary and recruiting services. And, I was not good at it. This was a problem. The job was mostly commission based and I was relying on that commission check to pay my rent.
The “mother” agency in NY finally sent a senior sales manager, Gloria, to work with me. Her feedback was both devastatingly eye opening and ego crushing. It was, however, incredibly helpful. You see, Gloria told me exactly what to do and what to say, down to which words to use as well as the exact systems and routines to set up.
My sales performance shot up. In just a few months, I was neck and neck for the honor of being the highest earning rep in the company. The sole reason for this meteoric rise in results was that Gloria had connected the dots for me.
She honed explicitly in on what I had to say and do to make the sale for our company. Her training was composed of in the trenches best practices she KNEW reliably and consistently worked for us.
Contrast Gloria’s approach with a networking class I recently took in my ongoing quest for professional development. The course had some excellent tips on how to connect with thought leaders in your field and even some great practical exercises to complete. But, I was left wracking my brain trying to figure out how to apply what I’d learned to my specific situation.
Could your sales people be in the same predicament when they leave that highly acclaimed sales training program you invested in?
So, what should you do?
Why not use your own version of Gloria’s highly successful approach to craft a course that is specific to your company?
Here’s the high level plan:
1) Identify the top and bottom 3 to 5 reps. This can be trickier than it seems. Watch out for pockets of reps that are doing really well or really poorly. The reason for their results may have more to do with their situation (a market with lots of low hanging fruit or a terrible manager) than it does with their skill. You also want to make sure that you select top sales reps who won’t be threatened by sharing their best practices.
2) Interview these reps to find out what specifically they are doing and saying. Ask about questions, stories, rebuttals, routines, systems, metrics they use to stay on track, how they spend their time, etc.
3) Ask for work samples, whenever possible. This could be emails, connection requests on LinkedIn, post-sales call notes, sales planning notes, scripts, etc.
4) Shadow both groups to see if you can pick up anything that they didn’t mention during the interviews.
5) Look for critical differences. This is what you want to especially focus on during the training. You can think of a critical difference as being the 20% of the things that they are doing that get them 80% of their results.
6) Build the training around the best practices of the top sales reps with an emphasis on the critical differences. Include as many of the explicit in the trenches best practices that you collected as possible. Provide tools and templates for use after the training.
7) Follow up the training with on-the-job coaching so that learners can get direct, relevant feedback on how well they are applying what they learned in training.
8) Co-opt these same learners to peer mentor the next batch of trainees. In this way, you bake the best practices into your culture so that they become “the way we do it here.” Plus, you deepen the learning for these newly minted peer trainers.
9) Develop a system to capture new sales best practices as they emerge. Update the training and share the new best practices with the sales team on an ongoing basis.
Is this a lot more work than plunking down a bunch of money for a canned sales training course? Well, yes, yes it is. It will also get you ten times the results.