To create effective change in sales people’s behaviors takes more than a 1, 2 or 3 day event. To think that, is to succumb to “tick box” thinking. The “I’ve sent the salesforce on a 2-day, How-to-bring-in-the-year-end-results course, so therefore we will achieve the numbers” plan is bound to disappoint.
A training event is not a magic wand; it will not create a salesforce of princes from bunch of ugly toads!
Before the training event is even scheduled a series of activities need to happen. What happens after the training event is more important still.
Given the fire fighting reality of sales people’s lives that I described earlier, many salesforce training initiatives fail because they are seen as incremental work for sales people who already feel over burdened. One of the key things to make development initiatives stick is to ensure that they are integrated where relevant with existing structures and processes. So for example when a new business development process is rolled out, it needs to integrate with the existing CRM system; it needs to integrate with the existing forecasting and reporting systems. It should also be used as the format by which sales people and their managers discuss and review the progress of opportunities.
This way it’s not incremental work, but rather an improved way of doing what is already being done.
Internal PR/ Communication
Lastly sales people are usually extroverts and very achievement driven. This needs to be harnessed in the service of the development initiative. Success stories need to be captured and published on intra-nets and newsletters, with due praise being given to relevant individuals. A good internal PR/ communication campaign is needed to support the initiative. When sales people start to see that changed behaviors resulting from training initiatives have led some individuals to success and recognition they should want to be a part of that. Rewards and recognition need to be linked to the implementation of the development initiative as well as actual results. Conversely if nothing is seen or heard of a salesforce training initiative in the weeks and months following it, sales people feel safe in the knowledge that the latest management fad has just passed by without it having taxed them unduly!
A meaningful sales training initiative that will actually make a difference to the business requires a great deal of careful and strategic thought, management commitment, time and effort to set up and follow through. If an organization doesn’t have the resources or inclination to do this it is probably better off spending its money elsewhere! However a robust training initiative, well set up, well supported and well executed can make a fundamental difference to the results the sales team achieve and hence to the overall business success. So perhaps sales organizations should consider doing fewer, higher quality, better aligned training initiatives so that they can afford to put the time, resource and focus against making them work and deliver results for the business.
Originally published by Patricia Seabright, Archimedes Consulting Ltd.
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SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm, and salesforce.com training company, with training centers in Toronto, Boston and Chicago, that ensures the proper activities occur before, during and after a sales training workshop.