Which Sales Training, Management Training, Leadership Training is Best?
If I categorized the questions I get asked, “What do you think of. . .[insert program/methodology/tool here],” would be it’s own list. Last week it was, “What have you heard about Traction?” and just yesterday it was, “What do you think of Sandler sales training?”
The reason I’m asked is because I’ve been employed by a lot of organizations in my short work life. As part of my employment, I have been trained in a dozen of these programs. As a manager, I have been pitched by dozens more. As a general manager I have had my managers pitch countless other programs. I even ran a training company and besides delivering our own training, I listened to multiple vendors extol the virtues of their content for licensing. When clients or prospects get exposed to any of that background, what comes next is a question about sales training, management training and leadership training programs.
They all want to know, which one is best? Some are just making casual conversation, some want to know because they are using a vender, and others want to know because they have their own opinion (or are certified trainers in what they’re asking about.)
It’s the wrong question.
I say that because a training program/methodology/tool is simply a deliverable. A way to transfer knowledge.
Now before I hear from the content creators and product managers or–heaven forbid–the consultants, let me tell you what the right question is.
The right question is, what are you trying to do? Describe your ideal future state. How will we know that a successful outcome was reached?
With that in mind, let’s look at the training program, the consulting methodology, or the specific tool in mind and ask the first question again. “Greg, we’re trying to get X, will Sandler get us there?” That’s better.
The issue with most programs is that completing the program is the outcome the attendee is hoping for and getting positive reviews is the outcome the consultant is after. In one of the largest training programs I was part of, the goal was to increase sales in excess of the cost of the training. The program required hundreds of thousands in investment and the top four levels of company executives were involved. I got to spend a week in Vegas. It was great. Before I went, the rumor in the halls was that the training was great, amazing even, but it was great for your next job. Not this one.
Months after everyone was trained, sales were as flat as ever. The pressure from the top was growing and everyone from EVPs to general managers were dragged into the largest conference room where the training company consultants, the CEO, and his lieutenants sat waiting. As the consultants tried to pry out of us why their program wasn’t being implemented, it became clear that this was their last ditch effort to rescue us a client because there was a lot of training yet to be delivered.
The room was silent. The program was about effective behavior change, but our company was about cutthroat production. Divisions actively raided one another for sales credits and turnover was rampant. Our behaviors were terrible for a growing business, but they were encouraged from the top. “I like to keep my people on edge,” was the CEO’s mantra. I’ve often wondered why he green lighted the program because it was not part of his vision of the company. He loved the hustle and living on the edge of ethics, this program preached the opposite. My gut tells me he took on the expense to prove a point, “see what happens when you invest in them? Nothing. Make the monkeys jump, that’s the only way to increase sales.”
In addition to the knowledge this company transferred, they needed to remove the obstacles that would prevent it from being implemented. That didn’t happen. The whole thing blew up and it looks like the company now focuses on automobile sales training. Things change.
So what do you do?
Start by being clear about what you’re after. Training will be only part of the program. Implementation is the hard part.
- What are the strategic goals of my organization?
- What team performance do I need to meet those goals?
- What aptitudes, skills, and experiences will create that team performance?
- What training will supply the skills?
- Where is the best place and what is the best way for those skills to be created?
That is strategy-based training, the results of which will answer the question: “Which sales training, management training, or leadership training is best?”