Many organizations and leaders know that they need sales training for their teams but if we ask them what their specific desired outcomes are they would be hard-pressed to tell us exactly what they’re looking for.
It’s safe to say most organizations are looking to gain more sales and increase revenue by training their sales teams, but how does sales training actually produce those results?
Of course, there are no actual customers in the sales training sessions. The only way training will work then is to be based not only on what they take away from the training but also on what the salespeople will utilize in their day-to-day behaviors.
I sat down with Mike Wise on our team for a quick interview about how sales leaders can and should be focusing on the sales coaching that immediately follows the training.
Mike: Are you saying there’s more to it than simply providing sales training and waiting for the sales results to follow?
Jeff: There’s a fallacy that sales training by itself is enough. It’s not. Sales training is only half the battle. There’s a step that is often skipped here.
We provide training because we want to improve sales results; we all understand that. What we forget is that training is education and maybe inspiration, but it’s not behavioral change. Just because they have learned how to do something doesn’t ensure they will go out and immediately execute on what they’ve learned. Sales training without behavioral change will not get you any of the results you were looking for.
What is the missing half of effective performance improvement? Sales coaching.
Mike: What exactly does sales coaching look like?
Jeff: Sales training establishes what to do and how to do it. This must be followed up with sales coaching to evaluate, correct, and adapt the way the skills are being implemented. Sales training is done in theory. Sales coaching is done in practice.
The most effective training programs are not enough unless the sales leader takes their responsibility seriously and dedicates the time to coach their salespeople. This is done on purpose and with intention.
If training is followed up with immediate coaching, the behavioral change should begin to happen immediately. This is what we want.
Mike: How soon after the training should salespeople be coached?
Jeff: Ideally, the very next day. We want to make sure we are striking while the iron is hot! Otherwise, people forget what has been taught.
Mike: Does it have to be the sales leader who does the coaching?
Jeff: Coaching can be done by a variety of people but it must be done consistently. It has to be something sustainable and repeatable. It’s something your salespeople are always involved in.
We are not simply training salespeople to develop new skills. We are trying to train them to develop habits. Like everyone else, salespeople already have ingrained habits. These habits aren’t always the best so we have to undo and untrain before we can introduce new habits.
The only way we’re going to establish a healthy habit is through repetition. If there is no coaching after a training session, salespeople will default to their old habits because that’s what they’re comfortable with.
We want to train new habits and that comes through repetition. This begins immediately in the training but gets carried through in the coaching.
Like Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker in the original Spiderman movie, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As a sales leader, you have the opportunity to be a modern-day superhero for your team. You have the power to change people’s worlds!