Habits are, by nature, engrained behaviours.
In sales, whether we’re talking about your approach to leading sales conversations, presenting or prospecting, we have a current “way of doing things”. Causing lasting change to these habits is one of the most challenging aspects of sales training. Yes, a learning approach needs to: be simple; be engaging; be clear about benefits of trying a new or alternate sales approach; and needs practice and follow up. Ensuring that there are multiple “learning touchpoints” – reinforcement opportunities that extend beyond the classroom – is a critical training success factor.
Here are two powerful reinforcement techniques to consider using when designing your next sales learning solution:
1. On the Job Coaching
Coaching is one of the most powerful ways to reinforce learning and new approaches. Field or Phone coaching allows both the observation of skill application and feedback conversations to take place. To do this right means that Sales Managers need to attend training with their team (as “stripes off” participants). This technique also requires that Sales Managers have their own coaching skills baseline. Finally, a coaching “work-with” form is a useful tool to help focus feedback on specific selling behaviours.
2. Skill Drills
This is a practice session in a specific skill area. In all sports, professional athletes practice specific skill areas. For example, in hockey, most practices include various drills on passing. In sales, professionals can always benefit from practicing targeted selling skills. For example, your team may need to refine their ability to handle objections.
Here is a format for a skill drill for handling objections:
a) Brainstorm common objections.
b) Review handling the objections process (if you need help with a handling objections process we would be happy to support you!)
c) Practice handling objections. Give each team member an opportunity to play the role of Client and the role of Salesperson. This allows everyone an opportunity to hear various ways to handle objections.
d) Debrief on the success of role play and opportunities for improvement.
This is a great technique to integrate into a weekly sales meeting.
So, when devising your next sales learning solution, make sure that you include great content design, strong facilitation AND include at least a couple reinforcement techniques to make the learning “stick.”