Category Archives: Learning and Development
Learning and Development Leaders: Welcome to Your New Job in Sales
Sales? Learning and development professionals… in Sales? Perhaps frightening to some, but there’s some truth to it.
While it’s tempting to defer to the hyperbole that “we’re all in sales,” meaning that we all represent our companies and are responsible for growing them, that’s not what I mean. I’m also not just referring to those in sales training roles. I’m talking about the “Dan Pink” version of “we’re all in sales,” from his book “To Sell is Human,” meaning, that we’re constantly selling ideas and influencing, persuading, and convincing others (especially our colleagues and organizational leaders), to do what we think is best. (We diverge from Pink’s opinion somewhat, because unless you’re a sales professional with a quota, a pipeline, and likely a good portion of your income at risk based on your performance, it is NOT the same, but Pink is certainly correct that many of the dialogue, communication, and influence skills are the same.)
Does it make sense for HR or Learning and Development to own Sales Training?
Professionals in Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development have tremendous expertise and can be extremely valuable to organizations. However, we believe that neither HR nor Learning and Development should own sales training. That may have made sense in the past, but it no longer fits today’s business environment.
Step Right Up: How L&D Professionals Can Help Sales Managers Sustain Change Post Training
Learning and Development must help sales managers to guide their sales reps after the training in order to sustain the changes introduced. Some sales managers may not be used to coaching and may need guidance themselves. Consider the following:
After Sales Training: Question, Observe, and Reinforce
In the first two posts of this series, I talked about what sales managers should do before training programs to support strategic change and during those programs to ensure that sales reps derive the greatest benefit. Where should sales managers focus once the training is over and sales reps are back to work?
How to Prevent Your Front Line Sales Managers from Inadvertently Sabotaging a Sales Training Event
Sales training programs to support strategic change initiatives should be approached with the weight and attention they deserve. If this sales training is essential to getting your reps on board and in line with the new way of doing things, then do all you can to ensure its success.
The first post in this series discussed what sales managers should do before a sales training program for their sales reps takes place. If there’s one theme for the pre-training activities, that would be communication. Sales managers need to convey to their reps why the training is important and how it will impact their jobs and remind them of what needs to be done in advance of the training in order to make the most of the time spent.
In our business, we are well aware of the challenge that Learning and Development professionals face when working with sales or line-of-business leaders on growth initiatives. Sales training is often outside of the typical learning professional’s comfort zone because most have never lead sales teams or carried a bag — or haven’t done so recently. While they know that they shouldn’t be “order takers,” they end up in these situations because they don’t know to push back without ending up losing credibility or putting themselves in a political quagmire.
Sales Training Without Sustainment Is a Wasted Investment
When sales training is treated as a one-time event, participants have been shown to lose up to 87% of skill and knowledge within four weeks. This “brain drain” needs to be dramatically reduced and significantly reversed in order for companies to optimize their investment in behavior change.
4 Ways Sales Leaders can Better Leverage L&D Teams to Execute Strategic Initiatives
Working in harmony will almost always yield better results than constantly working at odds. Everyone can agree that Sales and Marketing are at their best when they work together, hand-in-glove style. Leaders of both business units are on the same page, working toward the same goals and on the same timeline. Conversely, when the relationship is contentious, there’s a lack of faith and respect toward each other, which is bound to yield subpar results that not only do each unit a disservice but the organization as well.