Sales Training - Making It Stick!

Communication is often touted as the most important aspect of sales training, but the most important thing about sales training is whether or not it brings about results. Why is it that when you simply repeat your requests in memo after memo or yell what you need changed, the change in sales training that you are hoping for doesn't come about? Because what is going to happen if they don't implement the new training procedure? Another memo? Another yelling session? For most, this is not enough motivation to make a change, especially a change that they are not inspired to absorb.

A child does not stop repeating bad behaviors and adopt new ones because her mother is disappointed in her. She stops because she quickly learns that there are repercussions for her actions. In sales training, an effective tool that is often downplayed is the idea of consequences. You can effectively communicate the sales training techniques, share this effectively communicated sales training softly or loudly, repeatedly in memos and meetings and trainings, but still not have the desired outcome.

The problem comes in when you don't follow through. For example, you have spent a great deal of time encouraging them to learn the sales training techniques that you've designed because, ultimately, it will make their jobs easier and more fluid. However, learning these new techniques may be more difficult or time consuming than they may have thought and, for them, their job is not made easier with this new responsibility. You may have communicated quite efficiently to your employees that you would suspend anyone who wasn't implementing the new sales techniques by a certain date, but that date came and passed without suspensions despite the fact that many were still using the old ways. This may be due to an overwhelming work load or an inability to do the actually suspending, but whatever the reason, your lack of follow through communicates to your employees that you probably won't follow through with these new sales training techniques either, so why bother?

Along with working out how you will communicate your new sales training, decide what consequences, or incentives, you will put into place. When an employee successfully learns and implements the new training, there should be a benefit or reward. When an employee does not learn the new training or does not put it to use, then, too, should there be a consequence.

These consequences should be very personal to your employee they should not be benefits or drawbacks for the company. For example, the benefit should be a monetary bonus for the individual employee instead of the airy concept that profits will soar for the company and that this will trickle down into raises for everyone. The drawback should be a suspension for the individual employee or a cut in hours rather than the general threat of bankruptcy for the company or even the threat of layoffs in general. Just like sales to the customers, the way to sell your new sales training techniques to your employees is to make it personal.

Simply put, repetition or angry tirades do not back up effectively communicated sales training strategies. Instead, put your time and energy into creating and backing up consequences for jobs well done (or not done). Plan casual meetings during the a work day to get input on how things are going, to see if anyone has questions, concerns, or needs help. In this way, you will create an environment of trust and a foundation of follow through that will not only help you implement your current new sales training ideas but future ones as well.
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