Training Your Sales People Is A Waste of Time
This is going to be strange contention coming from me, because I'm a trainer. Below is stone cold hard data that shows that training is a complete waste of time and money. Your ROI is utterly disappointing.
This is what Marshall Goldsmith et al discovered in research conducted within a sales organization of 3,000 sales representatives. These reps were divided into four groups and different levels of intervention were employed and this was their observation:
• Group 1 - no training; sales declined by 4%
• Group 2 - 8 hours of training only; sales increased by 1%
• Group 3 - 8 hours of training + some coaching; sales increased between 9 and 19%
• Group 4 - 8 hours training + 8 sessions of thirty-minute telecoaching; sales increased by 20%.
Let me emphasize the results of Group 4. Combining training and coaching produces 20 times the result of just training people!
So that's the catch. If you conduct any type of sales training, make doubly sure you supplement it with coaching.
So what exactly does effective coaching look like?
Coaching is not the same as mentoring, although many companies and people use these terms synonymously. Coaching is also not training. At the Direct Selling World Alliance (DSWA) we define training as imparting skills to improve productivity and coaching as changing behavior to boost productivity. Now you can see why Goldsmith’s Group 4 had sales that took off like a rocket.
Coaching is not telling someone what to do and providing them with the answers. Very often we mistake business coaching like that of a sports coach, who we always see as shouting instructions. I've come across many trainers who conduct some sort of online training and then ask their webinar participants to sign up for a short-term coaching program. They blatantly say that from the coaching program they will get the coach's insights into how to grow their business. That's consulting.
A consultant provides answers. A coach questions you to prod you to provide your own solutions.
Providing people with solutions doesn’t transform them. Instead you become a crutch. You’re the go-to guy with the answers.
Here are some elements to incorporate into your coaching to make it super effective:
• coaching should be an invitation and not an expectation. This means the coachee has to give you permission to coach them. In the corporate world, coaching is mandatory and so it is an expectation. Many staff don’t look forward to it as it’s a “telling session” by the boss.
• create a safe environment for the coachee to open up. This relates to the first point above. It’s not a very safe environment when the session is mandated.
• acknowledge their contribution to the organization, no matter how small
• use picture phrases and words, for example roadblock or red light (instead of obstacle)
• start questions with the W-words - What, Where, Who, When, Which & How. At DSWA, we avoid the Why question due to a judgmental connotation.
• get coachee to create goals with timelines
• get them to commit to these goals and ask them how you will know when it is implemented. This should be done at the end of the coaching session.
• make sure that your airtime during these coaching sessions are about 20-30%. This means the coachee has to do the bulk of the talking, not you
One critical element I haven’t included above is how to give feedback. I’m certain that you’ve heard and read about how to give “constructive criticism”. It’s really strange how business schools and psychologists concocted this philosophy as the right way to make people think about their actions.
When Dale Carnegie published his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” in 1936, he had already stated that criticism always leaves the receiver with negative emotions. He or she will resent you for doing so. It’s an irony that modern researchers went on a wild goose chase to discover the right way to give feedback when it was already documented 80 years ago.
At the DSWA we train Leaders on the 5 Coaching Skills and among them is how to give “compassionate feedback”. Compassionate Feedback makes the receiver happy and eager to take corrective measures.
The take home message from this article is that the Network Marketing industry should train independent distributors and coach them. Training alone is insufficient. You will lose, if your competitor were to go the whole nine yards (including coaching) and you only stick with mundane training.
Every Corporate Leader and Line Manager can be trained as coaches to take their game to the next level. You can never pick up great coaching skills from books or articles and I’m speaking from experience over 30 years. Invest in learning coaching skills from the experts in the field.