Why Salesforce Training is for the Dogs

Recently we got a puppy. He was a Christmas gift for the kids. He’s a cute golden lab, and they named him Jasper.  As dogs go, he’s quite well behaved, especially for a 5 month old animal, and he’s loved by all of us, although I have noticed more and more often that I seem to be the only one taking him for his walks. So how does this all relate to Salesforce Training?  (Yes, there’s a lesson in everything it seems, if you look for it).

Well, we decided that it would be a good idea to take him to puppy training, and so we signed up at one of those Pet Store group classes. Sort of the same idea as a public Salesforce training workshop  – zero customization to your environment/dog, very general training, and lots of time spent watching others ask questions that aren’t necessarily relevant to your situation – still useful, but you need to take from it what is important to you and then apply it after. But that’s not the lesson of this post. (Although it reminds me exactly why we abandoned public workshops many years ago).

Lessons from the Pet Store

On the first day, the trainer stated – “How many of you think I’m here to train your dog?” Only a few hands went up, as even if you didn’t know the real answer, it was pretty clear from the way he addressed us, with his very regular hint of sarcasm, that he was indeed, not about to train our dogs. Of course, the right answer, as he reminded us more than once that day, was that he was really about to train us – the dog owners. The actual job of training the dog will be left up to us, but first we needed to learn how to do it.

And that’s where the analogy comes in. Many companies ask us in to speak to them about our training programs, and how we might go about providing Salesforce training to their sales people. And in most cases, the belief is that when we show up on training day, we will run an interactive training workshop, with lots of back and forth dialogue, break into workgroups to solve problems,  and practice with some role playing. No question, our Salesforce training workshops are chock full of that stuff – whether it’s a skills training session on cold calling, questioning, sales meeting structure, or whether it’s a workshop directly focused on instruction on Salesforce.com.

But that’s not really the “training” part. In fact, we could argue, that our job is not really to train your sales people at all. Like our dog trainer, our job is really to train you to train your sales people. And by “you”, in the vast majority of cases, we mean your sales managers. The sales manager is truly the focal point of our programs. They need to learn and understand how training and coaching work, in order that they can continue to practice of training reinforcement on the workshop lessons, long after we’ve left your building.

Salesforce Training is Not an Event

You see, we are firm believers in the tenant – “Salesforce training is not an event – it’s a process”.  No one, even your smart, university educated, social media savvy sales reps, can be trained in a day. Selling is sophisticated. Moreso than ever before. Successfully finding prospects, communicating value propositions, uncovering needs, handling objections, and closing deals – in this web crazed world with information floating around everywhere – is not easy.

Think about it. Would you want to fly in an airplane with a pilot had taken a one-day workshop on the dynamics of flight? Would you go visit a doctor for a problem knowing that he had exactly one day of training? Would you trust a lawyer that had only attended a one-day seminar on law? So why would you want to unleash your sales team on the world, with a one-day training program under their belt?

A Long-Range Plan for Salesforce Training

Our approach to Salesforce training is far more robust. Our aim is to develop a long-range training program for you – one that your company runs. We start with executive level discussions about your organization’s vision. Specifically we are out to discover the nature of the business problem. It might be as simple as “We need more sales.” But by diving further into that equation, we want to know more about the real meaning of “more sales”. More sales from what segment? From which reps? More deals or bigger deals? New sales or repeat or add-on sales? Then once the problem has been more clearly defined, we need to determine the desired actions that are likely to lead to those results, as well as how we’re going to measure our progress. Using a modern day CRM program like Salesforce.com is not a “nice to have”, it’s a “must have”.

From there, we venture out into the field, and into the cubicles, and we watch, we ask and we listen. And we learn. What are your reps doing? What are they not doing? How often are they doing it? And what are your customers telling you? We compare this “current” state of activity and behavior to the “desired” state of activity and behavior that we want to achieve, and only then, we can design a strategy and a subsequent Salesforce training program.

Then we zero in on the sales managers. And that’s where we spend much of our time. What we’re really doing is designing a Salesforce training program that belongs to them. Our job is to train them to train your sales force. Sure, we still run the actual workshops – our trainers are highly skilled in facilitating adult learning. But once we’ve left, the real work begins. Your sales managers will be trained and then tasked with ensuring that the workshop lessons are reinforced on a daily basis, with proper coaching techniques, and daily measurements to monitor individual progress and make adjustments when necessary. Now that’s real Salesforce training!

Like our puppy Jasper, he was not a well-trained dog after one Saturday session at the pet store. But with our constant reinforcement of the lessons we learned in those sessions – along with lots of bags of liver flavored doggy treats, we’re getting there. It’s definitely a process, certainly not an event.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional coaching and training firm that specializes in helping companies navigate their way in a Salesforce.com environment. SalesForce Training is based in Toronto, with trainers in Boston and Chicago, providing sales coaching, sales management consulting, Salesforce.com training and Salesforce.com Admin support, sales training and sales personnel assessments.

by   Mark Christie