Learning huddles and best practice sharing
As mentioned, what gets measured gets done; what gets asked and discussed gets focused on. I Suppose you’ve taught a new discovery model, or a qualification method, introduced an opportunity/account relationship map, or implemented an entirely new sales process or sales methodology. In that case, there will be plentiful opportunities to embed the language, acronyms, forms, skills, or job aids into meetings and workflow.
Make It Part of your Ongoing Coaching Process
The same applies to weaving what you teach into the coaching process you support. Here is an example of the sales coaching framework and process from our Sales Coaching Excellence course.
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Help front-line sales managers engage their reps to jointly diagnose the use of the new methods and skills (especially how and how well they are being used). Then, managers can coach to close any identified competency gaps.
Use the trained skills or the sales process and sales methodology you’ve implemented as the best practices to diagnose against, and the solution to field train and coach, to improve adoption, mastery, and performance.
Get managers into a cadence of coaching and continuous improvement (an endless loop, as you see in the above sales coaching framework).
Guide managers to coach the skills opportunistically and purposefully (see this post to learn the difference between opportunistic and developmental coaching).
Conduct a Formal Training Evaluation
Sales training evaluation is both science and art, because of the difficulty in some cases of attribution. A simple, transactional sale with a short sales cycle will be easier to evaluate than a complex, consultative sale with an 18-month sales cycle, where many other factors influence performance.
I often joke that, “All training evaluation is a lie, but you can get together and agree on which lies you’ll believe.” Evaluation requires engagement with the executive team, senior sales leader, and cross-functional collaborators (such as marketing, compensation, HR, product marketing, and sales operations). It also requires you to create a reasonable evaluation methodology, usually involving trend-line analysis or multivariate regression analysis, with input and sign-off on the metrics and measurement plan by all, especially the executives to whom you’ll be reporting the results.
Training evaluation methodologies that you can explore include:
Phillips’ ROI Model
The most widely known and used methods in the training profession are Kirkpatrick, Phillips (ROI Institute), and more recently (and growing in popularity), Thalheimer’s LTEM Model.
These models are as valuable for the diagnostics and insights they provide, as much as the focus on results or ROI. With most of these models, the process of evaluating the levels serves as a diagnostic tool for where breakdowns have occurred that are preventing adoption, mastery, and results.
Using Kirkpatrick’s four levels of Reaction, Learning, Application, and Results as an example:
You can’t attribute the success of the training at Level 4: Results, if the analysis shows reps are not applying what they learned on the job, at Level 3: Application.
Similarly, if students can’t demonstrate recall of what they were taught at Level 2: Learning, there’s no chance you’ll see widespread adoption in Level 3: Application.
The analysis provides insight into where to focus or how to pivot, to get the adoption you need, to have any hope of reaching higher levels of mastery, and moving the needle on the metrics that matter most.
Continue with Ongoing Measurement
This is a continuation of the thought process behind evaluation. We know that what gets measured gets done; and what gets asked about, gets attention. Ongoing measurement and the analysis of what you learn, brings many benefits:
It tells you where to focus to adjust and make better progress.
It points out transparently to leaders where the adoption breakdowns are occurring, to garner their support for any changes you recommend.
It allows those leaders to hold managers and sellers accountable for using and coaching what was taught, to maximize the value of their investment.
It can even help earn you a coveted “seat at the table” with senior business leaders, who will view you as someone who is concerned about making a business impact and working hard to ensure there is one.
Ensure Cross-functional Collaboration
“To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.”
Sales enablement and the process of transforming sales results are a team sport, with many cross-functional intersections. Each collaborative function will likely be able to support your training or methodology adoption in some way. Some of the above examples, such as integrating into your CRM, are a part of this (although CRM is important enough to deserve its own mention.) Look for intersections with:
Marketing (especially the content team):
Buyer-facing content should reflect skills and concept from training, wherever possible.
Example: If the methodology uses a buyer-centric model that leads with problems (vs. product features), marketing materials should do the same.
Product Marketing (especially for product training):
Products should be taught in ways that will help sellers speak about them in ways that align with the training.
Example: If the methodology teaches to personalize message based on how the intended recipient defines value, the multiple ways that the product delivers value should be documented.
Product-Market Fit can consider what the training includes.
Example: If the training teaches a model to uncover what truly matters to the buyers during discovery, product management can align with the terms or use the same model.
Systems, tools, and processes should be aligned to support the training.
Example: If the methodology teaches to uncover each buyer’s buying process exit criteria, exit criteria management should be incorporated into the sales process.
Training & Development (if a separate group):
Job aids or sales support should incorporate what was taught.
Example: If the training taught a method to rank account potential to set a logical account objective, job aids should be designed to support reps in doing that work.
While this integration work – and the tasks of fostering adoption, mastery, and lifting results – is always context-sensitive, I hope these ideas will be thought-provoking and helpful as you strive to make an impact with your sales training initiatives.
In summary, the suggestions in this post are designed to answer these four questions:
What happens after the last module is completed?
How can what the team learned be built into everyday activities, facilitated, and prompted by the company and managers?
What are the systems/processes that need to be tweaked to align with the language and methodology covered in the program(s)?
And, how should managers and reps revisit the training content in the context of ongoing coaching and support?
Answer these questions for your specific circumstances and you will be well on your way to fostering adoption, achieving mastery, and enjoying the corresponding lift in sales performance.
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