Sep 21, 2013

What Makes Sales Training Sticky?

Recently a LinkedIn member (Jacques Werth) started a very interesting discussion titled “Some sales research organizations indicate that a very small percentage of sales training provides any lasting increase in sales volume.”  Over 80 members responded, identifying one or more ingredients that they believe are required to make sales training “sticky” (to borrow this phrase from another contributing member).  The full discussion can be found at:   Click on link to Jacques' Discussion on LinkedIn



Analysis of said member responses revealed 7 significant contributors (see below) that were believed to have a positive impact on training stickiness.  (Members identified these items in their discussion contributions).

Coaching and mentoring comments focused primarily on sales people, but several members pointed out the need to train and coach sales managers on how to coach effectively.  Coaching was seen as required to achieve the sales persons’ adoption of new selling behavior.  Members pointed out that like all new acquired skills, repetition and coaching is required to master the new behavior.  Members saw sales management discipline as required to ensure that effective coaching, mentoring, and follow-up with the sales people actually occurs.

Member comments regarding Sales Person were focused on the need for coaching, mentoring, and reinforcement.  Most significant personal attributes for sales person were seen as adopting the change, followed by being open to change.  Most frequently used phrases associated with the sales person were (in order of frequency): “change adoption”, “achieved incrementally”, “continuous process”, “allow time to change”, “learn from organization's success”, and “requires repetition to master the new behavior”.

Sales managers were seen by members as essential for coaching and mentoring their sales people on the sales behavior change, and reinforcing same to adopt new sales behavior.  Several members commented on the need to train and coach sales managers how to coach effectively.  Several commented that sales manager tracking and measuring of change in sales person’s behavior was essential to successful adoption.  Phrases most frequently used to describe sales manager were: “involved”, “has coaching skills”, and “tracks progress”.

C-Level involvement was seen as critical to driving the training program “top down”, consistent with company goals.  Phrases most frequently used to describe C-Level were: “involved”, “initiates the change program”, “has the right expectations about the program”, and “works to get the buy-in”.

Business system context seem as a required set of building blocks that enable successful adoption of new sales behavior.  The context is developed incrementally from a top down perspective.  It is within this context that training is delivered and can lead to successful changes in sales behavior and attitudes.

Sales business process and sales methods (one component of the above context) are often the subject of the sales training, and must be in place both for effective training to be delivered, and for follow up coaching, mentoring, and reinforcement to take place.  Elements of the business process and method are often the basis of measurement and tracking used in coaching sales people toward their new sales behavior.

Measuring & Managing (including: measuring/tracking, and appraisal/evaluation) seen as utilized by sales managers to successfully coach and mentor their sales people to new level of sales behavior (and performance).  C-Level would use same for sales manager change and performance.  Key words most often used included: change adoption and management discipline.



Members described a training program that could be “sticky” as focused on change adoption of new sales behavior and attitudes, achieved through an incremental training program driven top-down from C-level, provided on continuous basis (not once and done), where the program is aligned with company goals, and training change messages are reinforced by on-going sales manager coaching and mentoring.  In addition, members highlighted several key ingredients required to operationalize the successful end results of sticky training, these included: a business context of essential building blocks (i.e., business strategy, business process & methods, tools & techniques, management processes) within which the training program unfolds; involvement of key people including C-level who have both the appropriate expectations for the program, and drive it; sales managers who become effective coaches, and are disciplined in following through to ensure change is adopted as planned; and sales people who are both open to change and in fact adopt the new sales behavior; and finally measurement and management of progress toward change adoption, all taking place continuously, over a period of time.  Overall, if training is delivered within the presence of these ingredients, it will be “sticky”, and the organization will realize the sales business outcomes it set out to achieve.

A point not specifically brought out by members deals with the contribution of sales person motivation to stickiness.  If sales people realize a great gain in their sales performance, and compensation, as a result of making the subject change in behavior, they will become much more open to additional training and change.

No comments:

Post a Comment