Make Your Training Worth Every Dollar You Spend

In this issue:

  • Make Your Training Worth Every Dollar You Spend
  • Technical Corner: ProfileXT Sales™…The Tool That Adds Oomph to Your Training Program
  • Sales Tip of the Month: How to Reinforce Sales Training

Make Your Training Worth Every Dollar You Spend

It’s tough, these days, being in sales.

Sales people battle “no-soliciting” signs, tight building security, no-call lists, voice mail holes, gatekeepers and firewalls just to get a foot in the door. After that they still have to overcome objections and take the steps necessary to close the sale.

Clearly, your sales people need all the assistance they can get. So doesn’t it make sense to give them every advantage you can? …To train them so they’ll know how to get past gatekeepers? …Prospect? …Overcome objections? … Close a sale?

Many companies recognize the need for selling skills training and spend thousands of dollars to provide it for their sales teams. Yet, often they see few results.

Indeed, reliable research shows that sales people who acquire new skills through training rarely apply them effectively on the job.

Discouraged, company managers blame faulty training, or assume some people just can’t be trained to sell.

But the fact is this: If you don’t take steps to make training stick, if your sales people don’t apply their new knowledge to their job, they sure won’t sell any more successfully after training than they did before. They won’t use what they learned. Instead, they’ll lose it, and you will have wasted a lot of money.

So the question is: How can you turn this around for your organization? How can you ensure that your people apply their new selling skills to their job? Here are some suggestions.

Your people must have what it takes to sell
Some people make the serious mistake of thinking anyone can be trained to sell. But if employees aren’t interested in selling and if they aren’t programmed to sell, no amount of coaching or training will help.

Therefore, you must make absolutely sure you have hired the right people.

In other words, long before you ever train, you need to match people to their jobs. You need to know that they have the qualities they need to sell. For example:

  • Do they learn quickly?
  • Are they interested in selling?
  • Are they naturally programmed for selling?

You’ll do best if you hire what we call “natural born salespeople.” Selling comes easily to sales naturals. Even though they may lack some selling skills, they have an innate ability to get out among potential customers, turn on the charm and sell. What’s more, these people soak up all the information about selling that you can throw at them. You’ll find that the natural sales person quickly learns the skills needed to sell successfully and to successfully change on-the-job behavior—skills they can learn through a strong training program.

Create a strong training program
Top managers know training that sticks starts with a crystal clear objective. Indeed, experience tells us that if you meet your objective, say increasing skill transfer, participants will continue to use their new skills when returning to their jobs.

So your first step in creating a strong training program is to establish a clear objective.

Secondly, you must decide which skills you will cover in your training program.

Obviously, to make that decision, you must learn what skills are needed. This means you must determine where your weaknesses are, what skills your people need to sharpen. So ask yourself, “What skills are most pertinent to my employees’ specific challenges and road to success? Prospecting? Overcoming objections? Closing the sale?”

Once you know your needs, you can work with your trainer to select training topics and thoroughly plan approach.

The sales trainer controls the learning experience, of course, but here are some guidelines for a strong training program, one that sticks:

  • Build approach around motivation
    In planning your approach, think motivate. People are more motivated to learn if they know they can apply their new knowledge immediately. For example, they prefer learning how to handle customer objections than the skill of effective listening because handling objections solves specific sales issues. So when you’re planning, plan ways to motivate.
  • Train to build confidence
    Expert trainers know that their students won’t even try to use their new skills on the job unless they are highly confident about them. That’s why they take specific steps to build confidence. What are these steps? Here are five:
    1. Demonstrating effective use of sales skills. People witnessing the correct way to handle sales situations more easily develop the skills to do so themselves.
    2. Giving feedback on effective and ineffective sales skills use during practice sessions. Quality feedback increases the probability your sales people will use effective sales behaviors and that ineffective sales behaviors will gradually diminish.
    3. Encouraging practice. The more participants practice correct sales behaviors, the more likely they will apply the skills appropriately on the job. Practice will also help them perform in stressful situations.
    4. Encouraging participants to apply their sales skills immediately. Participants who identify situations they encounter that call for their new skills and then describe how they intend to handle these situations will more likely apply their skills to them.
    5. Reviewing experiences. Participants who share their successes and problems and then receive coaching will increase their skill use.

Reinforce to encourage on-the-job skill use
If you seriously want a successful sales team, do whatever it takes to reinforce your people’s on-the-job efforts to use their newfound skills. Next to hiring the right people, experts tell us, on-the-job reinforcement is the most important key to a successful training program. (See “Sales Tip of the Month” for more on reinforcement.)

Use reinforcement tools
And one last point: Use sales management reinforcement tools. Employed as part of the training process, sales management reinforcement tools will help you leverage your training investment by giving you—and your trainer—information to help with skill application on the job.

Technical Corner: ProfileXT Sales™…The Tool That Adds Oomph to Your Training Program

When sales people fail to apply their training on the job, frustrated managers frequently claim “they just don’t get it.”

If only they knew about sales training reinforcement tools.

Using reinforcement tools such as ProfileXT Sales™ from Profiles International as part of the training process, gives you information to help with skill application on the job. For example, with the sales management report from ProfileXT Sales™, which is just one of several reporting options in this tool, you can equip your sales managers with the ability to immediately reinforce what each member of their staff learned in training. As a result, they will know what action each sales professional must take to achieve the next level.

In addition to its several reporting options, ProfileXT Sales™ helps with placement, training program selection and promotion, and sales coaching. And, you can use ProfileXT Sales™ to facilitate predictive job-match pattern development by company, position, manager or geography.

If you are interested in learning more about ProfileXT Sales™, give me a call or send me an e-mail. I’d love to help you see just how powerful this sales training tool is, and how you can benefit from it.

Sales Tip of the Month: How to Reinforce Sales Training

After training ends, how do you keep sales skills in shape?

The answer is to reinforce participants for using the skills they learned. Reinforcement should come from the following sources: 

  • The sales persons themselves. To maintain proficiency, sales people must continually analyze their performance. In other words, they should compare how they handled a situation with what they wanted to do.
  • Their peers. Receiving recognition from peers encourages training participants to continue to apply the skills they learned. (And noting their success, those reluctant to use their skills are often encouraged to try out what they have learned as well.)
  • Their managers. Expert trainers tell us that managerial feedback and reinforcement is unquestionably the most important factor to continued skill usage.  As a manager, you have three charges when it comes to reinforcement:
    • You must coach.
    • You must reinforce.
    • You must model.

Each requires a thorough acquaintance with your people’s new skills so you can discriminate accurately between effective and ineffective behavior.

Quite obviously, I’ve given you only a quick briefing on how to reinforce your sales people. You should look to your trainer for additional guidance.

Above all, remember to use all these reinforcement sources. Reinforcing sales skill use on the job determines whether or not your sales people will use their acquired skills in the future.

You should look to your trainer for guidance on how to reinforce your sales people.

MGA can help put people in jobs where the demands match their abilities, the stimulation matches their interest, and they have the greatest opportunity to succeed.

Never forget, you already have a significant investment in your people through salary, benefits, recruitment and training. This investment can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, per person. With MGA you can maximize that investment.


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