As a sales leader, how do you know if the sales training you are leading is effective? How do you measure the outcome of the training that your team has taken? First, as a sales leader and trainer we have experienced that successful training only happens when leaders are committed and believe in the training. And when leaders build a culture of training on a consistent basis.
When I was a sales trainer at the old Digital Equipment Corporation years ago, we had a four-day training course. As a sales force the entire district of over two hundred salespeople went through SPIN (questioning skills) training. The first two days were only for the sales leaders, and during the last two days we brought in the salespeople. The leaders would sit at the table with their teams and help conduct and coach the session they just went through. The results were outstanding. Why? Because all of the sales leaders had skin in the game.
When salespeople see that the leader is involved in the training and committed, the results go through the roof. When sales leaders send their salespeople off to training and ask how it went and do not follow up with what the salespeople learned, implementation of the new techniques diminishes quickly, usually within a month.
A commitment to sales training shows salespeople that the company values them by investing in them. But for that training to be effective and have the desired results, sales leaders need to be involved and understand the new skills that were taught.
For sales training to be effective, I believe there are three practices leaders need to have in place. For the sake of remembering, I call it the three M’s. Measure, mentor, and manage. Let’s take a look at each.
The way to measure the success of any program is to monitor the results.
What measurements can you put in place to track success? There are several that I recommend, depending on your industry, the size of your team and the sales environment. I believe the best indicators of success are increased revenue, an increase in new business and a shorter sales cycle. No matter which skills are being taught, most skills training focuses on how to better connect with the client and how to add value. When sellers learn a new skill, the goal is always to incorporate it into building long-term relationships that lead to repeat business.
The next practice is to mentor your people, which is similar to coaching.
Mentoring, however, demonstrates your mastery of the skills being taught, and allows you to give sage advice on how to practically utilize the new knowledge. Mentoring gives you the opportunity to guide your team in the right direction. You are the role model that values learning new skills and you’re helping them in the implementation process.
The last practice is to manage. How do you manage your people to improve their individual results based on the training that was delivered?
To manage is to meet with your people on a regular basis and ask what’s working well and where they can improve. Sitting down with your salespeople on a regular basis is critical. You can have meetings to practice what they’ve learned in an open forum, or to consistently role play on the new skills.
Good managers also make way for their team members to succeed by removing unnecessary obstacles and demands.
When your team knows you’re committed and value training, they will too. It’s like anything else in life you invest in, you want to maximize your return by using that investment as often as possible. Great sales leaders invest in their people.
Here’s to great selling!