In tough economic times, most companies tend do react in the opposite manner in which it would make sense to react. If a sports team is losing games, they step up the practice sessions and work harder so they can get better. If the military is facing a grave battle, they work on simulations and training exercises. If an actor or performer is faced with a tough audience, they rehearse longer and harder. Yet companies and sales team that face one of the most difficult economic periods cut training like it is a bad habit! I believe now, more than ever before owners and managers need to accelerate their training and development programs.
The challenge of course is that most companies don’t have the budget or available capital to engage professional trainers so there is a good chance you will need to roll up your sleeves and develop and conduct the training yourself. This article is designed to give you a practical approach to developing and launching a training program that will help your team get through these times.
The training program should be designed to achieve maximum participation on the part of your team. It has been proven time and again that audience participation in sales training is one of the most effective methods of developing both an attitude for learning and an attitude for successful salesmanship. Next, enthusiasm must be created. Enthusiasm is one of the most important traits a sales meeting leader must possess – because it is contagious. Remember, participants in the training program will learn very little if they are mentally falling asleep. Lastly, the participant must have confidence in the program; he or she must believe the content of the program and that the program will provide personal benefits.
Assuming that your salespeople enter the program in the right frame of mind – that is, with the proper attitude – and assuming further that this attitude is strengthened by the content of the program itself, it’s time to review the factors that contribute to the learning process. It will help to consider briefly how the brain works. Essentially, it is composed of some 10 billion neurons, each with numerous feelers or extension wires. When we think, remember or imagine, these neurons discharge an electric current, which in turn, creates an electrical path or groove. Once made, the electrical current tends to recur, and the degree of recurrence depends on these three factors: frequency, recency and intensity.
All three factors contribute to the learning process.
Frequency relates to the fact that the more often any point is made, the more strongly it is reinforced. This is important in sales training in terms of getting new ideas or information across to your salespeople.
Recency relates to the last time the specific point is made, the more recent the information the more it is reinforced. This is important in sales training as repetitive information in different formats is an effective way of increasing retention of the information.
Intensity relates to the fact that the amount of learning a person derives from a training session depends to a great extend on the intensity of the stimulus. A person may hear and/or see many things that make little or no impression on his or her mind, while another person sees, hears and actually learns from certain experiences. The difference is often one of the degrees of attention given to things occurring within range of sight and hearing.
A solid and consistent training program is a great way to keep the morale of your team high and focused through the tough times. Don’t fall prey to the trap other companies fall into and discontinue training your team. Double the effort and then of necessary, double it again! I am confident that you will see the results in the production of your company.
Ron Marks is the author of “Managing for Sales Results” published by John Wiley and Sons. He is a Certified Speaking Professional and member of the National Speakers Association. He and his wife Marni love to visit Guam and are avid scuba divers. They reside in Scottsdale Arizona and can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org