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Get tough on training!

Posted by Anders Northeved on April 18, 2011


Let me say “Sorry” in advance to all of you working with sales.
The following is not relevant to you, and the situation I describe here would of course never happen in your organization… :-)

As a professional working with training there are two things you hear over and over again:
“You cannot measure the direct effect of training”
 “You cannot get sales people to spend time on training”

On a webinar the other day I heard a wonderful example that put these “truths” to rest:
A company had several different sales organizations.
The management and the training department had organized a number of different courses that would help the sales people perform on a higher level; better understand their customer’s needs and therefore help them to get happier customers – and reach their individual sales quota.

The issue was that only a few of these people actually took the training, and even though their feedback was very positive, the training didn’t really catch on.
The training department also found out that a lot of the sales managers didn’t want their people to “waist time on this training nonsense” and instead spend more time chasing new customers.

Even if this situation probably (hopefully…) is a little extreme compared to most organization, I guess it is something most training departments have encountered.
But if the situation was common, I think the training department’s solution was not only unusual but also “quietly brilliant” (to quote a well known mobile device company).

Just after the end of the company’s business year the training department ran a report on the number of hours each sales person had spend on training in the last year.
Then they got a report showing how each sales person had performed compared to their sales quota and then they put all of these numbers in one table – clearly showing the direct correlation between sales people not reaching their quota and not having spend time on training.

This table was sent to all sales managers and the COO.

Do I need to tell anybody that the following year the training department saw a big increase in attendance for their sales training…

What can we learn from this?
We can learn that it ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS pays to measure the outcome of the investment in training.
And we can learn that you often have to go outside the training department itself to find the results of your training. The last bit seems obvious, but is often forgotten.

One Response to “Get tough on training!”

  1. Meg Bear said

    What a fantastically concrete example! Love it.

    -M

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