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Jeff Schmidt

Training: Its Not Just How, But Who You Train

8-30-2013

I was the top biller.  I was so good at selling it was natural to me that they wanted me to be the manager. (Ego, Ego) I was caught in the classic paradox of sales management. I was getting paid for doing less of what I got promoted for doing more of. I was a great seller. I was not a great manager. I figured since I was a great seller, if I could just get everyone to sell like me, Id have a great team. Then reality slapped me in the face, like it does with so many other young managers.

Over the years Ive worked with some great sellers. None of them sold exactly like me. They had their own style, their own personality, and they were incredibly successful. What I learned quickly as a manager was that my job was not to get people to sell like me. My job was to get them to be their very best.

I learned that sales training doesnt always work. Naturally I blamed myself. I must not be a good trainer; I must not be inspiring them. What confused me was that it was working very well with some, and not at all with others. Then I read an article from Tom Stanfill at ASLAN Training and it all made sense. There are four types of people on your team:

1. Independents: Sellers who are meeting or exceeding performance levels, but show little or no interest in changing. They show up to sales training because they have to, but they will not change behavior as a result because they dont think they need to.
2. Detractors: Sellers who have substandard performance and lack the willingness to change.
3. Strivers:  Sellers who have a very strong desire to improve and grow, but are not currently meeting performance levels.
4. Achievers:  Sellers who have a strong desire to improve and grow and are meeting and exceeding performance expectations.

Once you determine the make-up of your team, you can customize your training and coaching. My issue was I was overly concerned with fairness. To me that meant I had to give equal time to all the sellers on my team or I would be accused of playing favorites. Equal time is a myth. I focused instead on these time investment strategies:

Achievers - the strategy is to reward, retain and challenge. You reward them with your time and attention. You focus primarily on them; challenging them to try new things. Utilize them as mentors to others or to lead training discussions.

Strivers - the strategy is to show them the way.  Help them develop a personal development plan. Keep them accountable to their plan. You provide frequent feedback and course corrections as necessary. Share with them how you did it and how others do it, to give them options as they find their own way. Role play is a great tool with Strivers.

Detractors dont waste time. Spend that time on recruiting.

Independents will come to you when they are stuck and need help. It wont be often. As long as they are hitting their goals they will be satisfied. And as long as they meet the company goal assigned to them they are pretty much good to go.

To identify whos who, you have to create a fork in the road; a decision time. In coaching, that decision comes when you give an assignment. Most coaching sessions amount to little more than a discussion of what went wrong on the previous call.

Here is an example of how to create the fork in the road:

A rep is having a difficult time with cold-call conversion. People arent taking the call. If they take the call, they arent staying on the call long and certainly arent booking appointments. In your coaching you might ask, What could be done to warm up those cold calls?  The seller could come back with a suggestion of seeding. (Seeding is sending relevant business information such as an article, prior to making the call.) You would then create the fork in the road and set an expectation.  For instance, How about if we send a seed piece to five of the clients you will be calling next week? That way we can see if warming up the cold call will get better results.  

When you review the following week its simple: Did they do the five seed pieces? If they did, they are demonstrating coach-ability. If they didnt, theyre demonstrating a lack of desire to change their behavior.

Training doesnt work if you train the wrong people. Train the right people and your stress and frustration go down, and the team performance goes up.

Jeff Schmidt is EVP/Partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, inc.  He can be reached at  Jeff.Schmidt@Sparque.biz




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