If you’re thinking about investing in training your sales staff, you’re on the right track. 85% of best-in-class companies use a professional sales trainer or curriculum (Aberdeen). To get the most out of your investment, there are 5 actions we recommend you do first.
Tip: If you don’t do #3 you should probably not even spend the money. If you do #2 and #5 you’re in the top 10 percent.
#1 – Do an onsite needs analysis that involves your team
Uncovering the root needs and gaps is the first step of any professional training program. Not only will it help your vendor pick the right training modules and tailor them to your situation, but it builds buy-in to the solution.
If possible, involve your trainer in the process by bringing them onsite to observe, ask questions, and get to know the team and form their own conclusions. Not all managers are expert and diagnosing skill gaps yet. So instead of just ordering your prescription from the doctor, do a visit.
Bonus: this will build credibility and excitement for the training, thereby ensuring a higher show rate, buy-in, and waste less time “getting to know you” during training.
#2 – Collect baselines
Decide what metrics, KPI’s and results you’d like to shift (be sure to include all three categories, ask your Factor 8 advisor for help here if you need it). Metrics move quickly, KPI’s a bit faster, and results at end of month. The key is to move all three, but be specific about where and how.
Focusing on the numbers before you start helps target the training to the right phase in the funnel and the right skills in the classroom. For example, a class targeted at filling the top of the funnel won’t focus on closing and overcoming objections, but might impact talk time, number of conversations, conversion rate, and leads passed. Grab these numbers by rep and team over the past 3-6 months and discuss where you’d like them to go by looking at averages and top performers. Now post-training collection and measurement is ready to go!
#3 – Get manager buy-in
An old study by Training Magazine taught us that the two most important factors to get behavior change after training are
- What the trainee’s boss said before the training.
- What he or she said after the training.
Seriously, all your vendor due-diligence and the front-line supervisor holds all the power. If your management team is on board, your reps will be on board and you have a running start.
To get buy-in, involve managers along the way – collecting needs, baselines, and vendor selection. Over-communicate the goals and be crystal clear on expectations (will they be attending? Participating? Can they do email from the back of the room?) Show them the investment and importance at multiple levels.
Bonus: Be sure managers get their own development. If they haven’t learned how to do coaching yet, your rep training might be better done after a class for managers.
#4 – Do a leadership kickoff
Get the highest honcho you can find, all the leaders, managers and reps on one or several kickoff events. It can be in person or remote and last 30 minutes tops. This act alone will indicate the seriousness of your investment and how much you expect from them.
Talk about the importance of investing in our skills, how important employees are to the company, results you hope to achieve and the impact it will make on the company. Include your vendor, build their credibility and layout specific expectations about start times, participation, making live calls, etc.
Bonus: announce a contest between divisions, teams, or reps based on expected results (see baselines, #2). Talk up the prize, give an outline of how it will be decided, and set a date it is awarded. This is great fodder for follow up emails and announcements to keep the buzz alive after training!
#5 – Pre-book your follow up with leadership
Your vendor may offer post-training follow-up sessions (Factor 8 has three). We answer questions, check results, even listen to calls and certify reps. Get these on calendars BEFORE training and let managers know they are required. .
Also, book results follow-up sessions. I suggest 1 week after training, end of month 1 after training, and also end of month 2, 4, and 6. If you’ve already pulled baselines, an ongoing focus on the results from training will keep focus sharp and coaching new skills top of mind for leaders at all levels. That’s key for sustained behavior change.
Short on bandwidth but have the budget? Do #1 – onsite needs analysis. While your Factor 8 Advisor is onsite, do the kickoff meeting and collect the baselines.