Apr 152012

Sales Performance: Newsletter, Issue #14,  4/15/12; Integrating Sales Training and Sales Implementation

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Integrating Sales Training and Sales Implementation for Advanced Sales Participant Performance 

Sales Performance: By Tom McDonald, Principal, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC 

> Content, by Itself, will not Effectively, Efficiently and Consistently, Advance, Sustained, Individual, Performance Improvement Outcomes <

Jonathan Farrington identifies that sales training is not working in a very high percentage of cases – 85-90%”

“There are a number of reasons that 85% of sales training initiatives have little to no impact on performance after 90-120 days. 

Effective coaching hits the bottom line. Research shows that salespeople receiving great coaching reach on average 102% of goal, in contrast to salespeople reporting poor coaching who achieve only 83% of goal.”

“Preliminary results of our 2012 Sales Performance study show that 64% of survey takers need over 7 months to make a new sales rep fully productive…Our research also shows that coaching sales reps is the #1 key to helping reps ramp up.” 

Our collective goal in sales training is to advance individual sales performance consistent with strategic individual and organizational objectives.

This is easier said than done, but it can be done.

Adults learn and transfer (implement) new information in very specific ways [to complicate issues each individual brings to the table differing incumbent knowledge, with differing learning abilities and because of this, each individual requires a unique time (more or less) to ‘get it’]

If your desire is to optimize your sales trainings learning and implementation, individual coached, ongoing reinforcement is a must.

  • Highly motivated individuals, incorrectly implementing a stellar sales process will not see optimized sales success and as a result will not change behaviors.
  • Highly motivated individuals correctly implementing a stellar sales process, one time, will need additional ongoing individual  coaching and reinforcement to ensure that success is understood and replicated long term to change behaviors…remember that good habits are difficult to develop and bad habits are tough to break.

This is part of the training/learning/implementation disconnect, specific to how individuals adequately remember the new information, then implement it correctly, long term, to advance individual performance, consistent with organizational objectives.

It is a reality, relative to how individuals learn, retain and implement new information, that a one size fits all approach only works for part of your audience.

Especially in sales training, where participants are hard headed, the lack of individualized ongoing reinforcement, will not ensure individual successful implementation, which then hinders individual behavior change.

In 1885 psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus conducted a landmark study and coined the term “forgetting curve.” He found that when people are exposed to an idea one time, after 30 days they retain only about 20% of what they learned. That explains why so much training doesn’t stick, and why companies are throwing a staggering amount of money down the drain. 

One statement Bob made struck me hard regarding learning transfer strategies: “Somehow, someway, they all relied on their customers’ internal resources to follow through.”  This is a component of the broader subject of change management. It’s a challenge ESR has recognized and unfortunately one that not enough sales training providers have overcome.

Let’s revisit  our sales trainings objectives…to optimize advances in individual sales performance consistent with individual and organizational strategic objectives.

SPI International, a global sales training organization agrees that individual learning (training) and individual reinforcement  (implementation) must be ongoing for training to stick.

The American Association of Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) agrees that individual, ongoing reinforcement is key to individual transfer and with their global Certified Inside Sales  Professional Accreditation (CISP), have implemented innovative learning technology to bridge the gap between learning and implementation.

Your takeaway, here, is: How adults learn and transfer new information is an integral part of effective and efficient sales performance improvement training and sales performance improvement implementation. Ongoing, individual, coached reinforcement of critical, must know, sales performance improvement information, is mandatory for individual appropriate transfer to occur.

In practice, especially in larger organizations, training (learning, over time) and implementation (coached reinforcement over time) are separate functions:

  • Training provides the participant instruction  (learning)
  • Implementation provides the appropriate participant, ongoing coaching, reinforcement, to ensure ongoing successful application and to ensure participant behavior change

First, we most likely agree that when functions are silo-ed or separated, real participant consequences can easily be:

  • Lowered collaborative efforts
  • Lowered collaborative accountability
  • Lowered expectations
  • Lowered effectiveness and efficiencies

There are concentrated, very successful, performance improvement, consulting efforts by integrating marketing with sales.

Why are we unable to integrate training and implementation for the betterment of all?

“Employees will yield a 57 percent greater discretionary effort if they are engaged with management and continuously learning. (Leadership Council Study, 2007).”  

“When sales managers are used to reinforce sales training, retention is increased by up to 63 percent. (Ventana Research).” 

Here are some real reasons why we have been unable to integrate training and implementation:

  • We have decided that ‘training’ ends at the classroom
  • We have decided that ‘implementation’ starts in the field
  • We have been unable to find scalable solutions that:
    • Advance Individual Training (Learning) Outcomes
    • Advance Individual Implementation (Reinforcement )Outcomes
    • Effectively and Efficiently provide Collaboration between Training and Implementation to better Individual Sales Performance Improvement

New hire sales training is failing. The ramp time for new hires (those with less than 1 year of tenure), is trending down 12% in 2011. The ramp time for full sales productivity measures the time it takes for a new sales person to reach 100% of the monthly sales goal. 

Current Ramp Time to Full Productivity Metrics: 

  •    7.3% in < 3 months
  •    50.7%  in 3-6 months
  •    18.8% in 7-12 months
  •    23.2% in 12+ months  

The time between a new salesperson’s start date and achievement of full productivity represents the opportunity cost of a company’s on-boarding process. With sales turnover at just under 40%, and 29% of these people being new hires, the statistics prove it.” 

With the advent of scalable, affordable, web based, truly personalized learning technology, sales is now able to effectively and efficiently integrate training and implementation AND advance participant outcomes of each!

…Retention – Sales trainers have demonstrated a strong emphasis on retention of skills. Technologies, simulations and role playing continue to be leveraged for increased retention of skills and product knowledge 

…Technology Enabled Learning – The most important trend in sales training has been how technology is impacting the training process. Virtual training is no longer a fad; it is standard operating procedure for many sales training organizations…

Innovative, available, web based, Learning Technology adds the following deliverables to (1) sales training and (2) sales implementation:

  • (1) Instructor facilitated, personalized, ongoing learning, including verbal skills simulation, in a blended learning environment
    • Advanced, individual, learning to fluency – Individual, clear, understanding of new information
    • Advanced, individual, verbal skills mastery – Individual role play mastery in the privacy of their chosen environment
    • Advanced, individual, knowledge transfer, prior to implementation
    • Overlapping technology, for collaborative effort, for collaborative accountability and for collaborative advanced individual outcomes
      • Scalable toolset to accommodate large sales forces, geographically dispersed
    • Individual, advanced performance, consistent, with defined, strategic, individual and organizational sales objectives
  • (2) Coach facilitated ( Sales Manager), personalized, ongoing reinforcement, including verbal skills simulation, in a blended learning environment
    • Advanced, individual, understanding (transfer) of new information
    • Advanced, individual, successful and appropriate coached application of new information
    • Advanced, individual, successful behavior change, due to successful and appropriate coached reinforcement of new information, over time
    • Overlapping technology, for collaborative effort, for collaborative accountability and for collaborative advanced individual outcomes
      • Scalable toolset to accommodate large sales forces, geographically dispersed
    • Individual, advanced performance, consistent, with defined, strategic, individual and organizational sales objectives

“Practice makes perfect … not true. You have to add one word: Perfect practice makes perfect.” 

Sales Performance Improvement is More than Just Sales Training”

“Sales enablement professionals face a significant challenge in embedding successful sales coaching skills and practices between reps and those who coach them. Not only must you ensure that coaches are making smart coaching decisions that help reps achieve sales objectives but reps must find the coaching interactions valuable as well. Without clarity on why to coach, whom to coach, and what to coach, sales coaches will fail to get started in helping reps meet even the most basic sales objectives like having a successful first meeting or establishing a shared vision with their customers.” 

Research from Bersin & Associates in June 2010 found that organizations with a strong learning culture are: 

  •  46% more likely to be strong innovators in their markets;
  •  34% more likely to get to market before their competitors;
  •  18% more likely to currently be a market-share leader in one or more of their markets;
  •  33% more likely to report higher customer satisfaction than other organizations;
  •  39% more likely to report success implementing customer suggestions; and
  •  58% more likely to be successful at developing the skills needed for meeting future customer demand.1 

Additional Supporting Third Party Articles:

Study: 90 Percent of New Skills Are Lost after Training

Why Corporate Training is a Colossal Waste (and What to Do About It)

Technology Pedagogy Content Knowledge