Friday, August 28, 2009

An unapologetic rant - save your money!

Recently, we received a request for proposal from a global organization requesting training for 200+ professionals. The learning objectives were quite clear and specific. There was obviously some good thinking on the part of the executives at the organization regarding their needs. I was impressed.

Then I read further. Their budget for 200+ professionals was … wait for it …. Less than $126 per person. This is not a joke.

It’s wrong to speculate or assume something you don’t know. However, what are the possibilities here?

a) They really believe this is possible
b) The have such a low regard for training that they are paying lip-service to it
c) They’re naive about what it takes to achieve their objectives
d) They’re trying to trap someone into responding

… or any number of alternative possibilities.

I almost forgot the kicker, – “All additional costs (such as vendor travel and accommodation) must be included.” Thanks!

If this was an isolated example, I’d just smile and move on. But, this is an alarmingly common request. I’m all for getting the most for less. I believe in minimalism – what’s the least we can do to create the biggest result. But this request is flat out ridiculous.

If you genuinely want to produce sales and business results, here are some caveats:

a) Translate behavioral goals into tangible outcomes.

i.e. Instead of: “We want salespeople to become more proactive,” use: “Our goal is to open xxx new accounts by XXX date. We expect to open these accounts by and through our sales force.”

Now you can decide what behaviors/skills/competencies are required to achieve that outcome. Incidentally, instead of asking for “more-better”, specifically quantify desired outcomes.

b) Decide if you want people to “learn something” [i.e. learning objectives] or want people to perform at a higher level. These two outcomes are not synonymous. Assuming that “knowing” automatically translates into “doing” is incredibly naive.

c) If you’re not willing to take responsibility for performance improvement – keep your money. No training can replace a manager’s responsibility for the team’s performance. If you want support in helping people increase their skills and results – fine. But sales results from training rests clearly on your shoulders as a manager. With a manager’s engagement and support, effective training increases its result by over 80%. [Yes, we can substantiate this with research and we did say EIGHTY percent.]

d) Don’t fall for a trainers pitch on how effective they are [were] as a sales person. The issue is how good are they today at coaching others to improved their performance. Metrics should not be passive. i.e. Sales went up during the training/coaching, therefore the training/coaching created that increase. Not true. The question is, “To what extent did this training/coaching directly contribute to this result?

e) Be relentless about sustainability. Don’t expect any training/coaching to last forever, but be aware that most standard training programs wear off in 90 days or less. This means that results will be worse after 90 days, people are fundamentally unchanged and you may become, with them, skeptical of further training/coaching initiatives.

f) Don’t buy into the hype on CRM. It’s a necessity for sales in today’s market. However, 65% or more of CRM installations are unsuccessful. We’ve heard horror-story after horror-story about disappointing results from technology that can, when implemented correctly, dramatically increase sales results. A clue here – it’s the sales process, not the technology that’s critical. Don’t let the software train you. Don’t let over-priced “experts” sell you a “customized” solution until you’re clear on your sales process, and have a good idea as to the level of competency of your sales force. Then, and only, then can you choose software that suits YOUR needs. One size does not fit all and [the dirty little secret] the best solution is rarely the most expensive.

A Short, true story: “Like most women, my wife buys nail-polish remover. She always bought the most expensive under the impression she was buying quality. Then she learned that the cheapest nail-polish remover came from the same batch as the most expensive. She was actually shown the line at the manufacturer. You guessed it, she now buys the lowest-priced product. This is not illegal – just buyer beware and do your homework."

It’s a minefield out there with everyone making claims. [i.e how many “Canada’s [America’s] top sales trainers” can there be? [Answer: One] But how many books, seminars and websites make this claim? I rest my case.

We’ve prepared a report on what questions to ask when seeking training/coaching to improve performance. It’s yours for the asking.

Find me on LinkedIn

No comments:

Post a Comment