Improve your sales training: focus on the before and after – A STC Classic

A Classic - '63 Corvette

Recently we have written a few blogs about the mindsets employees and leaders bring to the training, as well as, the environment they come back to. The conclusion? Most sales training would be twice as good, if twice the time was spent on what happens before and after the training.

Most sales and sales training leaders buy into the fundamental idea – everyone raises their hand in agreement about the importance of what happens before and after training.  The problem usually occurs in the frenzy surrounding the program rollout – short cuts are taken, priorities get reshuffled, and a lot of good ideas get dropped.

So, while an important idea, it often fails to garner the attention it deserves.  That’s why we like to revisit this topic from time to time.

Recently we came across a HBR blog by John Baldoni. He provides an interesting discussion around what he calls purpose. Although the article was about employees in general, we thought it had particular application to sales people and the topic at hand.

Purpose is knowing what is expected from you and why – that is what are the expectations you must meet and the roles and responsibilities you must carry out?  Baldoni goes on to note: “Purpose is the foundation for creating vision, executing the mission, and abiding by the values of the organization.”

In many organizations the fundamentals around expectations and roles and responsibilities have and are being redefined because of the challenges of the new economic normal.  So it could be a good idea to spend some time making sure that everyone has a shared vision of purpose – before any sales training is launched. Two specifics are worth noting:

  • Sales people, like everyone else, are good at compliance, but going through the motions is not good enough in today’s competitive global sales environment. Sales people need to be engaged in the training with a sense of purpose. It’s unlikely sales people will get serious about learning new things if they are uncertain about how those new things will help them do what they need to do.
  • Although times are uncertain, fearing ambiguity can lead to holding onto old ideas and narrow thinking. One of the additional goals of sales training in today’s environment is to turn ambiguity into an ally by seeking alternative possibilities for achieving sales goals.  Before the program the sales people should be encouraged to look for new ways to approach their accounts by being open to and trying out new ideas.  It is unlikely that winning in today’s market will simply be about doing a better job doing what you have done in the past.

Some additional posts about sales training you might find interesting are: Optimizing Your Sales Training InvestmentOptimizing Your Sales Training Investment – The SequelBuying Sales Training – Yesterday vs. TodaySales Training 2011 StudyHow to Improve Sales Training – Look to Hybrids.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2011 Sales Horizons, LLC

About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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