1. You’re not spending enough time with each team
Everyone is different and everyone will vary in their experience just as they will vary where they are on the Winning-or-Not-Winning spectrum. Little and often is better (and in the long run more cost-effective) than holding long, intense sessions once in a blue moon. To some extent, frequency will depend on how fast your sales environment is and how often the reps are in the office. If they work remotely, organise a specific time for training or else schedule your sessions for when they are due in.
2. Performance data is being ignored
It’s almost impossible to successfully develop sales people without some form of statistical information. Whether it’s month-on-month, year-on-year or a comparison of different reps’ performance you need some hard and fast figures in addition to what your instinct sees and hears in the everyday sales mêlées of your department. Peter Drucker – he who first popularised the now commonplace practice of ‘management by objectives’ says in The Practice of Management: “What’s measured, improves.”
If your company doesn’t have a fully integrated CRM system, check on past actuals to understand where performance should be and identify shortfalls. Don’t be afraid to introduce new measures which can be used to incentivise reps as well as to track their progress.
3. Sessions are never scheduled
If sessions are always spur of the moment, this can leave individuals unsure about planning their day or week. Giving good notice of a forthcoming session will also give you a useful reason for demanding that reps organise their week more effectively since they will be losing some selling time. This will have the benefit of reps becoming more disciplined about managing their time and structuring their sales activity – which can only be positive.
4. Reps see sessions as repetitive and/or boring
Pre-planning your training sessions means that they will never be repetitive or boring. Work out a programme of topics and allocate dates of when you’ll lead them. Think about using senior or experienced members of the team to conduct other sessions later on. As well as easing the burden on you, this ‘curiosity factor’ will keep sessions motivating.
5. Sessions are conducted in a one-way manner
The best form of business skills training is participative and involving – the same goes for sales. Build-in some practical exercises, simulations, brainstorming and mind-maps into your sessions to challenge as well as sustain reps’ interest.
6. Sessions are seen as irrelevant or a waste of time.
One possible reason for this may be down to individuals’ experience being at variance with each other’s. For example, there may be recent school leavers as well as highly experienced sales people on the same team, meaning that sessions will fail to hit the mark for some. Another reason could simply be because training never seems connected to the current challenges of the market. Alternatively, training may be used as the scapegoat for negativity rooted in missed targets or a tough market. Draft half a dozen topic headings which you see as top priority, present them and then invite the team to add their suggestions.
7. Sessions are seen as a negative ‘sign of trouble’
Is the fact that you are spending dedicated time with a team interpreted as a sign of trouble? If this is the case, then the most carefully crafted sessions will fail because negative environments are never conducive to motivation. As openly as you can, present your reasons (it’s fine to say you think everyone should be doing better) and ‘sell’ this as the positive it really is – both for their individual development as well as for the company.
Finally, it’s always worth reminding them that, as sales people, an improvement in their performance is likely to mean improved bonuses!