The whole “one size fits all” concept, except for maybe Frank Zappa’s album with that title, is pretty ridiculous. Who ever believed that the same sweater could fit a size 2 woman and a size 12 woman? In theory, it may be true but in reality one of them is going to be really unhappy with the look.
When it comes to training, one size definitely does NOT fit all. Yet off-the-shelf training programs – both virtual and on-site offerings – are sold as cost-efficient alternatives to training that is designed to meet specific goals and unique scenarios.
Customized training is the only investment worth the investment.
For training to have desired impact and get best results, training content needs to be more than engaging; it also has to be totally practical, fully relevant and aligned with the learners’ immediate needs and longer-term goals.
When learners – your teams! – understand exactly how and why they’ll benefit from doing things differently, they’re motivated to break old habits and use fresh approaches. Here are five tips to ensure your training hits the mark:
1. Know what you want
If your training objective is behaviour change and improved results, the message has to be specific and practical. Off-the-shelf progams, regardless of reputation, are based on yesterday’s trends, last year’s or maybe 10 or more years ago. Packaged and pretty and they may have been fantastic when fresh, but so is milk….
By virtue of the training being already packaged and on the shelf, you can count on it being past its “use by” date! Strategies and tactics change in a nanosecond and even when fundamentals stay the same, the way learners’ learn, changes.
2. Be aware of tricksters
Lots of speakers and trainers promise the moon and deliver, well, not the moon, nor the sun. Don’t be fooled by fancy words on a website or trainers who say they customize but provide no path to accomplish this.
Ask them to tell you specifically what they do to ensure the material is fully practical to your group.
- Do they create pre-training surveys, review current collateral, conduct SWOT interviews?
- What effort do they make – other than a quick read of your website and maybe your LinkedIn profile – to understand your brand’s distinction and DNA?
- How do they personalize their message (beyond replacing ______ with your company’s name)?
3. Begin with a pre-webinar to build excitement and create expectations
Virtual training, and specifically real time webinars, can introduce concepts to create excitement for on-site training. This flipped learning style can act as a teaser, add enthusiasm to learning and in-class time can be fully devoted to discussions, exercises and applying the newly-found skills.
4. Book a facilitator who is passionate about YOUR success
What insights does the sales trainer provide prior to the program? What new ideas do you hear that you want to run out and share with your team just from the phone conversation with the facilitator? How well does the facilitator understand (and want to understand) your goals, your vision, your initiatives? Are they passionate about their service (good) or about your success (way better!)?
Here are some other considerations:
- How have they updated their training materials in the last three months?
- What was the worst training program they ever delivered and why?
- Can the group keep their phones out? (Listen for a yes answer!)
- What type of engagement tools do they use?
- What videos do they incorporate, where did they get them and how old are they?
- What do they suggest to ensure accountability after the training?
And a few snarky questions:
- Do they call their book a “best-seller” but you’ve never heard of it?
- Who published it and when?
- What qualifies it as a best-seller?
- What else do they brag about?
5. Create a path
Ask participants and leaders to set stretch goals. If they know they’re attending sales training, what aspect of selling do they need to learn to do better, smarter, more efficiently? If the workshop is on email selling skills, for instance, is their challenge, engaging a prospect, advancing the sale, digitally closing the business? Have clear success goals and discuss these with the facilitator before training to ensure your priority is the training priority.
Tailored sales training that is brand-focused, specific and practical, presented by a facilitator who passionately cares about your success, creates real change, the kind that enables learners to get best results and book more business.
About the author
An author and communications expert, Sue Hershkowitz-Coore is the founder and President of High Impact Presentations, an international consultancy providing customized training solutions that result in measurable improvements in sales performance, productivity and talent retention. You can contact her at www.SpeakerSue.com or through her Facebook business page.