Sales Coaching Habit #3 – Build on Existing Training
Research by CSO Insights shows that to be successful at skills development you need to change the way you train. The following findings support this:
- Nearly two-thirds of all sales reps (61%) are dissatisfied with the business and sales skills training provided by their companies.
- Training alone has a relatively small impact on improving productivity. A more comprehensive development approach— integrating training, coaching and real world experience—has seen up to 88% increase in productivity.
- Salespeople forget 87% of training content within 30 days. Most of the actual learning and skills improvement happens as salespeople repeatedly “apply” and “perfect” new knowledge and skills on the job, with continuous support and reinforcement from their managers.
- A “break-down/build-up” approach makes salespeople much more receptive to learning and applying new skills.
“One size fits all” training programs are largely ineffective both from a development and resource allocation perspective. Tailored training starts with developing simple competency models for each role. It’s important to make sure that managers have the same understanding of what each competency means in terms of demonstrated behaviors. That way, they can objectively and consistently identify salespeople’s’ skills gaps and link them to the appropriate training programs, thus creating an individual development roadmap for each salesperson.
Salespeople need to be guided to self-discovery. You can’t just tell them what to do; the best way to make them learn something new is to let them “self-discover” how to do their jobs better through examples and experience. Of course you need to start by convincing them to want to try new things.
This can certainly be achieved by training, but only if it is a much more individual, coaching style training as opposed to a standard classroom setting. The ability to practice in a safe environment and receive feedback to refine the skill is probably one of the most important for long-term skill development.
To summarize, to embed new skills for the long term, coaches need to do the following:
- Assess an individual salesperson‘s current skill level accurately;
- Create a compelling vision of what‘s possible if they change;
- Break the skill down to small steps;
- Practice new skills in a safe environment — and do it often; and
- Give feedback as to what‘s working and what isn’t.