Category Archives: Sales Training
Modern sales leaders and managers are often faced with the challenge of providing multigenerational sales coaching. Providing sales coaching to millennials might seem like a particularly challenging endeavor – this is because there are many myths about the preferences of the millennial workforce that are not true. Understanding how to connect with your millennial salespeople can help you learn how to coach top performers.
MYTH #1: Millennials do not want to be coached.
Not true. In fact, recent studies show that millennials want coaching at work nearly 50% more often than other employees. Also, they seek feedback more frequently than older generations in the workforce (SuccessFactors, 2015).
MYTH #2: Taking a quantitative approach with your coaching feedback dehumanizes the coaching relationship.
Using a numerical rating scale, either against a standard or against a millennial’s colleagues, helps contextualize feedback and provides an opportunity to monitor progress. It’s likely that higher performers will embrace an internal ranking against their colleagues, while a moderate or lower performer may be better served with a comparison against an external standard. The ranking or comparison is not for punishment, but for growth. It can help you establish a common language and calibrate change consistently. Be mindful of your choice.
Key considerations for Multigenerational Sales Coaching
Consider that connecting with millennial employees frequently resonates with their cadence for information and their digital world. Millennials are accustomed to instant access to » Continue Reading.
Move over, baby boomers. You too, Gen Xers. In 2015, millennials became the largest segment of the American workforce, with more than one in three workers being from this generation. Figuring out how to train a multigenerational sales team presents unique challenges for sales leaders, but understanding the difference between generational learning styles will help you be more effective.
There have always been differences in age and experience levels across sales organizations, from recent graduates to those nearing retirement. This presents a business imperative and an opportunity to identify the differences and similarities in learning and communication styles and the implications for coaching and training a multigenerational sales team.
Understanding the Learning Styles of Generations in the Workforce
These days, there can be up to four generations in the workforce. Connecting and communicating successfully across this generational spectrum can strain the ability of sales leaders and those in Learning and Development. The starting point is knowing your audience:
1. Traditionalists (those born before 1945): Generally speaking, most workers in this generation are strongly committed to their organizations. They value teamwork, collaboration, and the development of interpersonal skills. Their learning style is commensurate with these characteristics: they like teamwork and collaboration in the classroom.
2. Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964): Boomers tend to be very competitive and are success-driven. They look for professional growth, are receptive to change, and consider training to be one » Continue Reading.
The definition of insanity, as attributed to Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
When talking with sales leaders, I’ll often modify this definition and apply it to their circumstances. I’ll ask, “This year, if your sales professionals do exactly what they did last year, will they get the same sales performance as last year?”
If their company grew exponentially last year, they might say yes. More often than not, sales leaders reply, “If they do the same things as last year, we might grow a bit, but not as much as we need to.” If, however, sales were down the previous year, the reply will be, “If our sales professionals do what they did last year, we’ll be in bad shape.”
For most sales leaders, no matter whether they did well or not, the objective each year is to improve sales performance and grow revenues. To me, the sane conclusion is that sales teams need to do something different if they aim to achieve different results.
During these conversations, once we get to the point of agreeing that something has to change, I share four areas where change can make a difference in results:
Sales skills: Does the sales team use the Six Critical Skills—Presence, Relating, Questioning, Listening, Positioning, and Checking—for client dialogues to develop and expand relationships. Sales talent: Are the right people in the right roles. Sometimes it » Continue Reading.
I have been in sales for many years, well before joining Richardson last August. I have heard my share of objections from prospects and clients, and I thought it worthwhile to share some of the most common objections to sales training.
I don’t have the budget. There is an investment component to training, and if prospects don’t have money in the budget, that’s a valid objection. If I’m talking with the right person, they certainly have a budget to run their business, but they may not have set aside money for training in that fiscal year. If they agree in the importance of getting people to do things differently to get better results, then the objection really isn’t about budget, but about timing. Even so, it is worth having a conversation around what the investment might look like, and whether there might be more value in exploring a sales development initiative versus another effort they currently have allocated money for. The framework for this conversation is to develop a mutual understanding of what it takes to get sales professionals to do something different to achieve better results. I don’t have the time. Sales leaders are extremely busy, trying to juggle competing priorities in managing their teams while achieving their financial targets. I understand their time constraints, while knowing they could achieve more if they invested the time to get their middle performers to act like top performers. If they » Continue Reading.
This could be a very short blog post. The answer, in a word, is “Yes.”
But let’s look a little deeper into the reasons why sales training is important for growing your business.
First, consider these assumptions:
Sales professionals drive revenue. Within every sales organization is a range of skills, talent, and capabilities. The B2B selling environment, with ultra-informed buyers, continues to grow more challenging.
Some might argue a new way of selling is needed to succeed in today’s digital, connected, mobile world. The good news is that while enhancements might be necessary, there’s a lot about selling that hasn’t changed.
Buyers may be more savvy and demanding, but they still need guidance to make the best decisions – and trust is still a major factor in making buying decisions.
What this means is your sales professionals must be skilled in connecting with the buyer on both a personal and business level. They must be authentic in establishing credibility and earning the right to ask questions. Then they need to gain pertinent information about the buyer’s situation, tailor insights and ideas, and provide a differentiated solution.
These are a higher-order level of consultative selling skills, requiring a greater degree of preparation, assertiveness, and initiative. The sale is still made in the dialogue; it’s just that the path for getting there is a tougher climb.
There is one question that comes up in virtually every Richardson sales training session that I have conducted over the past 23 years. It is part of an activity in which teams practice coming up with and asking open-ended questions to buyers. This is the question that participants love to ask buyers — “What keeps you up at night?”
This was new, innovative, and fun back in 1997. Now, it is a cliché. It is a salesy question. If a buyer is interviewing four different companies to find the right partner, he/she can hear that question four times. In my training sessions, I work really hard with participants on asking open-ended questions that avoid this trap. The goal is to come up with classic questions that never go out of style. “What are your biggest worries when it comes to switching advisors?” If I am a buyer and you ask me a worry question, I’ll talk about my worries. You don’t have to make it a cliché about what keeps me up at night.
Another pitfall that I encourage sales professionals to stay away from involves trading questions: “If we are able to do X and Z for you, will you agree to do Y?” Asking open-ended questions with “If”; is a manipulative construction. Buyers see that you are trying to get them to say yes to something before they are ready. They hear the start of a » Continue Reading.
In my previous posts — How Effective are Your Sales Training Programs? and Order Matters: The Sequence of Sales Training Measurement — I made a business case for measuring the impact of sales training and explained the proper sequence to do so.
At this point, you should be ready to establish your own measurement strategy for sales training . But first, I’ll share five guiding principles to help you through the process.
Principle One: Start Where You Want to End When you start with the end in mind, your measurement plan will be more likely to address those things that matter most to your business. You will be aligned with the outcome that you are trying to achieve. If you identify best practices and then establish current performance as a baseline, you can see where opportunities for improvement exist and track changes along the way. Principle Two: Feedback Is a Gift Giving feedback to the individual going through training should be part of the learning journey. For everything that is measured, make sure the individual has the opportunity to see his/her results and be a part of an ongoing developmental dialogue. Put the individual in charge of his/her learning, and help him/her understand how to use that information to guide his/her continuous learning. When he/she expects and get feedback, there is more engagement and compliance. Principle Three: Methodology Matters It is best to measure performance in » Continue Reading.
Four tips for developing a sequence of sales training measurement
In my previous post — How effective are Your Sales Training Programs? — we made a business case for why companies should invest in sales training measurement. Now that the importance of measurement has been established, it’s vital to adopt the proper measurement sequence to have the greatest impact on performance.
Sales Training measurement is not a one-and-done prospect. The standard pre- and post-test approach isn’t sufficient to achieve lasting change.
The Kirkpatrick Four-level Training Evaluation model has become a cornerstone in the learning industry, looking at reaction, learning, behavior, and results. These traditional measures are familiar and necessary, but they’re not sufficient. At Richardson, we build on the Kirkpatrick model by identifying additional factors that come into play.
Before training individuals, we want to know their natural talents and skills. There’s an important difference between the two. Talent refers to an individual’s aptitude and motivation. Talent is a part of their DNA because people can be great at jobs that are a good fit. The other side of that coin is that while a poor fit can be workable, it’s not optimal. It’s hard to be passionate about a job that doesn’t play to a person’s talents.
The other element involves skills. This is the “how” of doing something. Skills can be observed. If there was a video camera taping a client meeting, what would the camera » Continue Reading.