Here’s why training fails…
I have pulled no punches here; as it’s important, you know the truth…
The fact is most sales training programs don’t modify selling behaviors or raise the sales revenues of attendees.
Well as incredible as it may seem, it is simply because they are structured to fail.
Let’s take a careful look at the reasons one-by-one.
Lack of attention to learning and study principles
I can’t stress this point enough – it is without a doubt (in my mind) the reason most programs fail!
Ask most trainers what they know about study and learning technology, and they’ll reply “What’s that?” They don’t know anything about studying or learning, and thus they are ineffective teaching.
The first problem is that many of the key words and concepts in sales have over time accumulated multiple definitions. This has occurred because authors modify the definitions for their own programs.
Trainers never pay attention to this phenomenon. Thus, they confuse students from the start of their programs using words, phrases, concepts, and ideas in ways that don’t match the understanding of their attendees. The result is confusion.
Attendees can’t execute because they never really understood the trainer’s message.
A simple but absent solution to this problem is clear and concise glossaries and trainers who make sure the attendees get the right definitions as the material is presented. There should always be post subject testing to ensure 100% comprehension. Since the trainers are unaware of the problem, they obviously aren’t looking for a solution.
Teaching structures that prevent leaning
Most training is delivered in multi-day formats. When I taught for American Management Association, they simply had no choice. You just can run a multi-day program in small segments over time when your attendees are not local to your classroom.
It is just a simple fact that pouring that much data into such a small time frame is more than anyone can handle – and they don’t! By the time they leave a three-day class, if they’re lucky, they can remember 20% of the first day’s materials.
Assuming hey need that material to understand the rest of the course – guess what? The rest of the material is a total loss. At best, most leave the class with a couple of ideas, and lucky if they understand them well enough to use them effectively.
In the typical two or three-day format, there is little chance of changing any selling behavior. Real learning requires practice and re enforcement during the learning process. Many trainers do follow ups on their classes, but since the attendees never learned the material, these follow ups become refreshers with all the same problems already mentioned.
To be effective you must have “selling” as an integral part of the learning. And you must finish learning the initial data before piling on new. This means after learning a few principles reps must first be tested to ensure understanding. Then have the opportunity to practice in real selling situations what was learned getting feedback and coaching to ensure their success.
This is the only way you can change selling behaviors. I repeat, the only way!
The challenge of application by students
Unfortunately, almost all training is done giving the salesperson a skill that must be imposed on a sales process. Despite role-plays and exercises, without real practice executing a new skill within the sales cycle, most reps can take these new skills successfully into their selling process.
One key reason for this is that poorly executed techniques meet with an immediate beating from the prospect. Salespeople aren’t willing to stick with a new technique long enough to master the behavior when this happens. They simply revert to old habits to avoid the customer beatings and never mastering the skill.
With the proper structure and coaching, salespeople can succeed. However, it is always more effective to build a “selling system” that incorporates these best-selling practices into the sales process, thus making them ““invisible.” By “invisible,” I simply mean the salesperson learns the selling process and the selling technique as one – the technique is the method use in the process. In this case, no “application” of the technique to the selling process is necessary. It s the sales process.
Having read and studied a lot of sales materials I can tell you that there are a lot of poor materials. Many trainers in their efforts to be unique, twist and mangle selling principles to the point of destroying their effectiveness.
It also seems that the key subject, communication is all but absent from formal sales theory. It would appear the training organizations have forgotten that selling is a form of communication and that communication skills are an essential part of selling.
It is my belief that many of the selling techniques taught by trainers are ineffective because the students don’t have the communication skills to execute them.
The simple test of a good program
The bottom line is, if after the first couple of hours or so of training, you aren’t seeing immediate positive changes in behavior; the program probably isn’t worth its salt.
As you can quickly figure out, any program run in a multi-day format is going to have a tough time making the grade. Any program that doesn’t include, as an integral part of the teaching, live sales coaching is also not going to make the grade.
It is a plain fact that someone who doesn’t understand — can’t do. Thus, if your training program doesn’t test for 100% understanding, you can be reasonably sure they will fail to change behaviors and students won’t be able to apply successfully what they were taught.
One More Thing
Please be careful in choosing a program. Learn for yourself about study and learning technology and how they can help. Don’t accept a program that’s basic design is doomed to fail before they start.
If you have any questions call me. I ll be glad to help (Even if it’s not my program!) you make it a success.