Training can deliver the sustained revenue growth you are looking for. But not on its own.

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Training can deliver the sustained revenue growth you’re looking for. But not on its own.

When things go wrong, sales leaders often turn to training programmes to bring about positive change. But training alone won’t deliver the benefits you’re looking for. Here’s what’s will.

Sales leaders are always under pressure to hit growth targets. But with Covid’s impact on purchasing behaviours conflated by a rapid shift to virtual selling, the pressure is more intense than ever.

Many turn to outside help to help their team quickly adjust to a new sales paradigm. Training programmes with titles like ‘How to sell on zoom’ and ‘Get clients thinking value, not cost’ are selling like hotcakes right now.

I believe in the power and value of training. It helps us develop new skills, be exposed to new ideas and hear about what worked and what didn’t at other companies. It’s how we develop from sales bum to sales gun.

Good trainers make learning memorable. They don’t just explain what to do, they show how to do it. They make it relevant to the client and applicable to day-to-day activities and objectives.

But too often, training is used as a quick fix – a one-off commitment of time and budget. If it has the desired effect, great. If not – well, at least we tried something. So the thinking goes.

We need to start thinking about training as part of the solution. Not an end in itself.

The sad fact is that too few training programmes have the impact the client is looking for. Sometimes it’s the trainer’s fault. We’ve all been on courses where the content was out of date or poor to begin with. The material might be too advanced or too mickey-mouse. Or maybe the content’s great but the delivery is awful, leaving delegates bored and distracted.

But more often than not, it’s nothing to do with the trainer.

Most of the time, in my experience, the training did its job. It was inspiring stuff, right on the money. The team workshopped how a methodology would work in their world. There were techniques and refinements that would make a real difference, if implemented.
If implemented.

Want to know the number one reason most training doesn’t get the results you want? It’s this.

The moment most people walk out of the room, it’s back to business as usual.
Those targets won’t hit themselves. The RFP response is still lying blank on the laptop. There are still three new rep roles to fill. And they all need to happen yesterday.

So how do sales leaders overcome that resistance to change caused by ‘business as usual’?
After all, change is hard. It’s not without risk, either. There’s no guarantee you’ll end up where you intended. Most people don’t appreciate being pushed out of their comfort zone. Some will actively resist change of any kind.

And yet the alternative could be catastrophic, existential failure. So how can sales leaders overcome these hurdles to implement necessary change?

The answer is by transforming the sales culture.
Marketing guru Seth Godin describes culture as ‘the way people like us do things’. I think it’s particularly helpful because it neatly encapsulates the three things that will determine whether a sales team thrives or not.

Leadership

Great leaders understand that sales results start and end with them. It stands to reason that if team leaders don’t buy the need for change, no one will.
Their job here is twofold. To motivate, by painting a picture of a future in which the team is winning. And to communicate, constantly reinforcing the behaviours that will lead to positive change.

Team mindset

The desire and ability to change is driven by a common sense of purpose.
It’s therefore important to start with an awareness and understanding of why change is necessary. What’s wrong with the status quo? What are the stakes if we’re unsuccessful?
Awareness leads to acceptance – we need to adapt in order to survive, then thrive. And acceptance in turn leads to action – what can I do to bring about this change?

Process

Strong leadership and a positive mindset alone won’t bring about change.
For that, you need a system. One that empowers and enables team members throughout the selling cycle. A process that encourages and rewards the right behaviours.
Start by listing all the activities that makes sales successful, then systematising them. That is to say, make sure they are done consistently and train all team members to do them well.

Training won’t work if it’s not put to use. That’s why the single biggest factor affecting performance is the culture of the sales organization or team. Culture dictates whether its people value learning or are set in their ways. It determines the extent to which they embrace change and put the required effort into making it happen.
Training can deliver the sustained revenue growth sales leaders are looking for. But only when it’s complemented by a programme of cultural change that will see the new behaviours take root.

I’ll be digging into how to work on people and process to transform sales performance in a FREE 60-minute WEBINAR. Click here to register.

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