The most obvious way to improve at anything is some form of training or coaching. The bad news is that most training doesn’t result in anything changing for very long and coaching can be very expensive.
After six weeks most sales training has been largely forgotten and many of the old habits have crept back in. We’ve all been there – even if the training seemed fantastic at the time, when we get back to work the manual gets put on the shelf starts to collect a film of dust.
I remember, many years ago when I was training to be a sales person that some of the training consisted of sitting in a room by myself, watching the videos and listening to someone drone on about various sales techniques. I’m absolutely certain that I slept through a significant proportion of the videos, despite my best efforts to stay awake.
Of course, in these high-tech, enlightened times, we all know better, don’t we?
Consider what happened when you learnt to drive. It probably went something like this;
- You booked a series of one hour lessons.
- The basic rules of the road’ and controls were explained and demonstrated.
- From now on, you’re in the driving seat…
- You were taken through various tasks one at a time, pulling away, steering, changing gear, braking and so on.
- Over a period of several weeks you practised the skills, gradually adding in more stretching tasks as your level of skill improved, such as reversing, overtaking and parking.
- You probably practised the skills in between lessons, until they became habits.
- Some of those skills were more difficult to acquire than others, so you kept practising them over and over until you mastered them, even if they seemed impossible to start with.
- You ventured onto different types of roads and traffic conditions.
- You learned what to do in unexpected situations, such as emergency stops and breakdowns.
- Until finally you had the skills and experience to handle most situations, take and pass the test, but you also realised that there was still much more to learn.
Almost anyone can learn to drive, so this approach definitely works. So what can we learn from this to make sales training more effective?
Timing, relevance and pace – you learn to drive when it is most relevant to your life and circumstances, at times that suit you and at your own pace. Frequently sales training is done on a ‘sheep-dip’ basis, just putting everyone through at the same pace, a day at a time, whether the timing is right or not and whether it is relevant to them or not at that moment.
Training plus coaching – there are certain specific skills and knowledge that must be acquired, such as using the clutch. These skills are then developed through on-going coaching which establishes self-belief and confidence to overcome the challenges.
Flood or drip feed? – with driving, your learn over an extended period of time, allowing the skills to build through repetition and practise, establishing new habits. If the training is delivered as a single ‘flood’ then it tends to wash away as quickly as it came.
Passive or active? – with driving you are continually involved and active in the process, as opposed to just observing it happen. By actively using the skills, over and over, you eliminate bad habits and establish new more helpful habits.
Follow-through? – with driving, once you pass your test, you have a two year period where you are subject to special rules and you probably had someone keeping a watchful eye over your driving and supporting you as your confidence grew. Often with training, you’re on your own the moment you leave to room or complete the program.
Imagine for a moment that you only had a one day crash course in learning to drive, how do you think the chances of passing the driving test would look in comparison?
So training, in itself, often isn’t enough to bring about long lasting results. It has to be relevant, self-paced, supported, drip fed, interactive and be followed up on, to result in any long lasting changes in behaviour.
But given the real life constraints on time and money, how can we achieve this? One answer is high quality interactive e-learning, available 24 X 7 when and where the user wants it. For example, with the Sales-Motivations e-learning solutions, we see people logging in several times a week, often early in the morning and at weekends, because the material is engaging, entertaining and helps people to be more motivated, confident, resilient and sell more, so we know it works.
If you would like to see what effective sales e-learning looks like, with a free trial, just drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org