If You Took Your Driving Test Now, Would You Pass?
Learning to drive a car takes some intensive preparation, followed by a series of tests. Would you pass if you took your test again today?
Once you’ve passed your test, that’s it for the duration of your motoring career. Over the years, though, the driving skills you have learnt become eroded. You pick up bad habits. You take more risks.
It’s the same with selling skills.
Like driving, selling is not an instinctive skill.
It’s a learned behaviour.
Consequently, if that behaviour is not constantly reinforced, the salesperson will pick up bad habits. Inevitably, those selling skills will become eroded and less effective. Reinforcement of the selling skills learnt on any sales training program is essential to make sure that it keeps delivering results. So how do you do it? Read on to find out more.
How Do You Reinforce Selling Skills To Guarantee Long Term Results?
Some managers prefer to abstain from the whole sales training process. This risks losing a valuable resource. If the manager is a supporter of the training, the sales team will see it in a positive way and want to take it seriously. Better still, by being engaged in the training from the outset, the manager will have a vested interest in ensuring its success. They will naturally become committed to reinforcing the selling skills.
As an absolute minimum, a manager should always announce and launch the sales training program personally. The goal here is to pre-brief attendees on the rationale and expected outcomes.
Give them a Coaching Menu
Managers don’t have to attend the training courses (though of course it’s ideal if they do). Why? Because a good sales trainer will provide managers with:
- The language and methodology used on the course
- A outline of the skills the sales team has learned (because, remember the sales training is based only on the missing skills in that particular team)
- A library of real life examples generated by the delegates which can be applied immediately to a variety of different sales situations.
The best sales trainers also provide managers with templates and tools which help them to quickly measure and monitor the application of new skills. This makes the reinforcement so much simpler. Thanks to the skills assessment that has taken place at the beginning of the sales training program, managers already have a coaching menu/personal development plan for each individual sales person. With very little extra time and effort the manager can make sure that the training sticks.
It’s not just a numbers game
When the going gets tough, a lot of managers concentrate purely on numbers. The danger with this approach is that without the appropriate skills, activity alone will not improve performance. Ten poorly executed meetings a week is not as good as five high quality meetings where the sales person truly understands the client and their needs. If the manager does not reinforce best practice and ensures everyone is working with a consistent approach to sales, increasing activity levels will not deliver results.
Reinforcing the sales training comes in many guises. Which ones you use depends on the sales team themselves, the nature of the industry they are in and so on. Options include:
- One to one meetings,
- Field visits to observe the sales person in action,
- Team sessions which could include role-plays / guest speakers from other sales companies and even clients – all to help reinforce the message.
Leading from the Top
One large IT client uses their CEO to demonstrate the importance of the training course. The CEO makes a video, which becomes the introduction to the programme. The video makes it clear to the delegates on the training programme how seriously the company takes the outcome. It also advises them that they will be measured on their progress at the end of the sales training program. The course is then launched by a senior member of the executive team. The management of that particular group then attends a half-day workshop where they are given the templates and tools to enable them to reinforce the training content.
At this stage, the managers will also have sat in on a couple of courses and be familiar with the skills, language and techniques their teams are being exposed to. The company reduced underperformance of their salesforce from 60% to only 20%. Subsequently, new recruits are trained to the same level, and it has the complete involvement and commitment of the management team. They believe that only in this way can incremental business written as a result of the training investment, be accurately measured.