CPR for Sales

Most of you are probably familiar with CPR, Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. For those who may not be familiar with CPR, it’s a method of assisting someone who is having a heart attack.

I’m a big fan of CPR and the older I get the bigger the fan I become. In fact, I want everyone around me to be familiar with CPR, just in case I have a heart attack.

Failing the Test

I’m a huge proponent of the virtues of CPR and increasing its awareness with the general public. Recently, I decided it was a good time to re-take the test. Digging up some of my old CPR information I asked a colleague to put me through an impromptu test, just to see how well prepared I was to take the real one.

Imagine my dismay when I, the great one, the all-seeing, all-knowing, the over-refreshed one, failed the test! It’s not that I failed miserably but I probably would have done more damage to the victim than good.

How could that be? I’d been through the training several times so why didn’t I remember the three simple steps of CPR. Then it came to me. I didn’t remember the things I’d been taught during the training because I wasn’t practising them on a regular basis. Now that’s understandable because you can’t go around giving CPR to perfectly healthy people, and finding people who are experiencing a heart attack is a challenge.

I got to thinking about the problem of remembering things you have learned at training sessions. I thought back to when I was getting my multi-engine rating as a private pilot. Almost all of the ten hours of training consisted of my instructor “pulling” an engine and my going through the “dead-foot, dead-engine” routine over and over and over again until it became second nature.

Even then, whenever I went flying I would review the “dead-foot, dead-engine” procedure in my mind several times during my drive to the airport. In other words, I not only learned and practised the basic skill, I continued to review and refresh the information on a timely basis.

Get Sharp, and Stay Sharp

So, how does this apply to sales and selling? We determined that what was happening to me and what happens to many of the people who take sales training workshops. They walk away with a lot of good ideas, hopefully some skills, but usually no plan to reinforce or refresh the training over the long haul.

Some time ago, we revamped our flagship workshop, ProSell, to include a number of practice sessions to help the participants develop their skills and receive peer critiques and individual coaching as needed. What concerned us, however, was what was happening—or, more importantly, not happening—after the workshop.

As sales training professionals, we continually have discussions on how we can assist our workshop participants to continue their personal development that begins during the training.

Ultimately, the decision to continue begins with the participant. The next level of support and reinforcement is the company he or she works for and, more specifically, the sales manager.

We’ve often despaired in the fact that too many companies do nothing in the way of post-training follow-on or reinforcement. No wonder people fall back to their old ways and old habits. It’s just too easy and comfortable to stay where you are than it is to move forward.

Tools That Help

In an attempt to try to stem this tide of post-training apathy, we developed a set of Post-Training Exercises for sales managers to use at their sales meetings, complete with guidelines on how to conduct mini-training sessions. There are enough exercises in the booklet for a year’s worth of reinforcement. If the salespeople haven’t got it by then, you’re in trouble!

Having tried to help out progressive sales managers, we then decided that we needed to do something for the participants as well. So we developed a Post-Training Agenda/Plan that includes up to 49 simple exercises that the workshop participants can do for themselves after the training is over. If they only did one a week, they would have enough to keep them going for almost a year.

Recognizing that most salespeople are like kittens and left on their own and to their own devices, would rather play (and get into trouble) than work, we decided to provide the sales managers with a similar booklet–Sales Manager’s Post Training Coaching Record–to be used with each of their salespeople who attended the training. This way, the sales manager can monitor the salesperson’s progress and work with each person on his or her own terms. It allows you to keep track of the kittens.

The whole process has the effect of not only providing skills training but setting up a system to reinforce the training until it becomes second nature and, while a refresher is good, it’s no longer mandatory (like me and my CPR training).

Help is Available

Given the time and energy, particularly the time, you can develop your own post-training support system and/or coaching process. If time and energy is of short supply, you might give some consideration to getting outside help. We’re available by the way.

Back to CPR For Sales

Years ago, we developed a CPR for sales success and it goes like this:

To be successful in sales, you must do what unsuccessful salespeople won’t do – work hard and practise the CPRs for sales success.

Consistent: Do the right things, at the right time, all the time, every time.

Persistent: Be like a postage stamp. Stick to the job until it’s done. Stay with the prospect until they either buy or die!

Resilient: Learn to roll with the negative influences and wild emotional swings that impact most salespeople. Maintain a positive attitude.

Practice CPR every day. Stay sharp, successful, and professional in every way.

You might want to pass this message on to your salespeople.


Authored by Brian Jeffrey, co-founder of SalesForce Training.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and Salesforce.com training firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, helping sales people learn new sales techniques, and helping sales management re-inforce those tecnhiques with solid post-training game plan.

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