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Why So Many Sales Training Programs Are Mediocre

Why So Many Sales Training Programs Are Mediocre

Far too many sales training investments return mediocre results and some inject a lot of confusion into the sales team’s thinking that can reduce results.

Over the last 15 years, there has been a real shift in sales training toward content that is very analytical and case study oriented. Lengthy discussions and planning processes are used to get a clearer understanding of the buying process, psychological factors involved, buyer personality types, etc.  All of this stuff is interesting and stimulating, but is it truly addressing the most basic problem that causes most sales people to fail? We have met and interviewed thousands and thousands of sales people, which resulted in the publication of two best-selling books based on all that data gathering. What we find today is that the three most common causes of poor selling performance are:

  1. Not spending enough minutes during the day speaking with high capacity buyers/customers.
  2. Not being able to verbalize the most important sales communication in a convincing and credible way.
  3. Poor skill at executing the fundamental consultative sales process.

Let’s look at the most important sales communication which we call Bedrock Sales Communication Tools:

  • Communicating the three most important competitive advantages of the company.
  • Knowing who has the capacity to buy a lot of your product/service and knowing what to say to schedule a meeting or phone appointment with that person.
  • Able to communicate a concise and compelling success story of a customer/client of using a popular product/service.
  • Able to answer the question: “What do you and your company do?”
  • Can respond very effectively to the most common objections.
  • Explain what makes your company a better choice than your two strongest competitors.
  • Can get any sales conversation off to a good start with an effective agenda.
  • Knows how to respond when a sales process gets stalled.
  • Can explain a new product or service the company is offering in a convincing and interesting way.

Many sales managers assume or think their sales people know how to do this stuff so they move on to more “advanced” topics which usually means the latest greatest analytic account development system. When we test their sales people, we find that in nearly every case, well over half the team is unable to verbalize this basic sales communication in a way that is effective, credible and convincing.

Consilio fixes this problem. We also have great account planning programs too, but until the team has great sales communication skills that they can clear the bar with, it is best to stick to sales communication training topics because once sales people get good at these skills, their numbers really start to improve.

We do this with a drills-based delivery style that has much more repetition, practice and coaching than any of our competitors. It is so remarkable and different, we are willing to guarantee our results 100%.

 

Train The Trainer Options

Consilio gives their clients a variety of options when it comes to how training is delivered.

We know that the keys to an effective project to improve the sales and/or coaching culture includes:

  1. Identify transferable best practices that matter.
  2. Build a practice and repetition oriented training program.
  3. Deliver the training with high intensity focus on drills and coaching.
  4. Implement a follow-up process to deliver coaching over time to sustain results.
  5. Make project progress and results highly visible.

Some of our clients need a little help in some of these areas and many prefer us to do them all because of our speed and the difficulty of getting their internal training team to the same level of quality and intensity as Consilio trainers are.

Consilio has the ability to conduct what clients tell us is the best train the trainer preparation for interactive programs on topics like sales, customer service and coaching they’ve every been through. Most TTT programs focus 90% of their energy on program content and how to use the instructor manual. Consilio TTT training goes much further and transfers the best practices Consilio instructors use including:

  • How to use demonstrations more effectively.
  • Giving quick, crisp directions that sweep participants into action.
  • Repetition with drills and incremental challenges.
  • How to coach in a fast paced, repetition driven skills exercise.
  • Table discussions, brainstorming and debriefing effectively.
  • Opening, closing, transitions and motivation.
  • Using better stories to make key points that are memorable and motivational.
  • How to generate the kind of pace that Consilio programs need in order to work.

If you choose to deliver the Consilio program yourself and bring Consilio in to prepare your trainers, they will have the most demanding trainer coaching they’ve ever had and they will be very thankful for it. Coaching trainers is something we love to do and we’ve refined the process because we’ve spent so much time developing our own delivery teams.

 

The Consilio Method Of Sustaining Results After Training Is Complete

For many training projects, the training program itself is the “big event” and when it’s over, it’s pretty much over.

We believe this is a mistake far too many companies make.  Although group training events can serve as a strong boost to accelerate progress, training MUST continue through follow up with coaching and short, refresher workshops delivered over time to continue to refine the skills.

Training needs to become an integral part of the way a manager manages and coaches the team.   This is what we mean by a rigorous coaching culture.  Managers/Coaches that coach, train and demonstrate on a daily basis is the key to lowering long term training costs.  There is no other way to sustain results that is going to work as well and the alternatives are simply not affordable.

What Consilio clients like best about our approach is two things:

  • Our training programs are much more demanding and bring participants much further in terms of skill development than other programs they’ve tried
  • Our follow up focuses on sales and customer service managers and the internal training team (if they have one) to show and coach them how to sustain progress in an affordable way

The reason the sales team cannot verbalize basic selling information and execute a solid consultative sales process is because the sales managers simply aren’t coaching and training them to do this.  On a sports team, the coach is 100% responsible for training the team and this is the same in the military.  For whatever reason, in business, many sales and customer service managers fall into the trap of managing through memos, policies, procedures, new CRM tools and data analysis.  This needs to change if you want a powerful culture that continuously improves, repels poor performers and attracts top performers.

Consilio can help you make that become a reality.

 

Keeping It Professional: The Basics

Here at Consilio we work to improve the lives of others.

We coach and guide in an effort to bring out the very best in people so that they can create success on purpose. That starts by making sure the best possible you shows up when it counts.

Unfortunately, people sometimes damage an opportunity or even a career by making easily avoidable mistakes. Often these simple missteps seem harmless enough, but should usually be avoided in business situations. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating an influential person or decision-maker. You can lose amazing opportunities if you aren’t careful, so I’m here to set you straight. Don’t irk people by making any of these potentially deal-killing, but completely controllable mistakes.

Odor: Neutralize It!


Have you ever had a wall of perfume hit you in the face so hard that it made you nauseous? I have. I can’t focus. My head starts to hurt. It’s an unnecessary distraction that I resent. It annoys some people. Bad.

Do those with allergies a favor: consider passing on perfume or cologne of any kind. I once overheard a very famous attorney and cable news show host loudly and angrily complain about a woman who wore perfume to work.

Why do I have to smell that b!+(#’s perfume every day? I have the right to clean air in my work environment!” she yelled from a green room makeup chair.

My eyes got wide and I stopped in my tracks. Was she talking about me? Possibly. She seemed to dislike me for no reason I could pinpoint and I did wear perfume in the office. Was it possible I didn’t smell as good as I thought I did? Yes, entirely possible. I never wore perfume to work again. Shoot. I didn’t want to get sued!

It truly boggles my mind that I ever made this mistake. First of all, I’ve developed my own aversion to the smell of most perfumes and colognes. But, more importantly, I wonder if I would have had different opportunities if this one very powerful woman had taken a liking to me. I now realize that was not possible because I committed one of her pet peeves.

In the movie “Anchorman,” Brian Fantana says of his cologne, “60 percent of the time it works every time.”

I’m no statistician, but those odds don’t look that great to me. Eliminate the chance of offending someone 100 percent of the time by not wearing perfume or cologne in business situations.

Spit Out the Gum

I immediately question a person’s judgment when I see them chomping away on gum in the presence of their superiors or clients/customers. Sure, it can be overlooked. I, personally, don’t form a lasting opinion on someone based on whether or not they chew gum, but some people do. A mentor of mine once asked me never to chew gum when we worked together. Couldn’t. Stand. It. (By the way, it’s Oprah’s pet peeve too!)

At least in that situation I was given the opportunity to fix the problem and move on with a clean slate. That’s not usually how it goes down. In a worst case scenario, you don’t get the job/deal/referral/business and you are never told why. It happens. Don’t let it happen to you.

You don’t need gum, anyway. My dentist says it’s bad for your teeth. May I interest you in some mints instead? I was once complimented by a powerful political correspondent/analyst for the mints I kept out for the office. He told me one day, “You really do everyone here a service.”

Mints can also be conversation starters. I recently wowed the team at a huge logistics company by bringing mints shaped like little trucks. It’s the little things that can make a BIG difference. And chomping on gum in business situations is one seemingly little thing you may want to chew over before making yourself appear unprofessional.

Step Away from the Cell Phone

This one almost goes without saying. Almost. Unfortunately, I still have to say it: Be aware of your cell phone use – especially if you are a new hire or recent college graduate.

Stats show inappropriate cell phone use continues to be a major annoyance to employers nationwide. Almost 75 percent of hiring managers report new college graduate employees text message at inappropriate times, and almost 60 percent report excessive cell phone usage for personal calls.

Fine, you’re in a meeting and you need to be on top of what’s moving and shaking in your virtual world. I get that. I’ve worked places where it’s acceptable to have your nose in your phone during meetings as long as you still contribute and add value. That may be your company’s culture, but it may not be. Besides, is it really possible to be completely present when you’re focused on your phone? Probably not. Pay attention if you’re supposed to be paying attention. If you notice an urgent email from a client – maybe deal with it. But, if your friend texts to ask if you want to go to happy hour that night – it can wait until you’re away from those you should be trying to impress with your attentiveness.

 

How To Rapidly Improve Agent Performance In Contact Centers

90% of the agents that show up for work at contact centers around the world want to do a great job, but the percentage of those who are really outstanding is relatively low.

Consilio has found that the following factors are usually the cause of this:

  • Often, most of the key decision makers at the call center overly focus on technology as a solution to most problems and the really big brainpower goes into designing the system that agents use. This creates a diminished focus on the customer experience and an exaggerated focus on data, screens and technology.
  • The contact center does not have an easily accessible catalog or library of recorded calls of near perfect interactions with customers that are shared frequently with other agents that need to improve.
  • Coaches/supervisors who are supposed to improve the performance of agents rarely know how to practice and put agents through drills that impact how they interact with customers. Instead, they focus on data, numbers, goals, expectations and attitudinal factors. This is an enormous mistake and a huge waste of the most important resource on the floor.
  • Awkward scripts and interaction steps are engineered into the process that wrench the customer through a very difficult experience in an effort to streamline and reduce costs through reductions of handle times. This causes customers to get angry and has the exact opposite impact by causing more problems that generate longer interactions. This is a big demotivating factor for agents.
  • Meetings with agents do not motivate or provide much valuable training and recognition.
  • The physical environment in the contact center is dull and uninspiring. Taking calls day after day is monotonous and the best call centers create a physical environment that is fun, colorful and motivating.
  • Training with agents focuses way too much on how to use the technology and neglects much more important topics like voice tone, questions and listening, summarizing customer issues, tailoring recommendations and suggestions and knowing how to verbalize competitive advantages in an effective way.

The following steps will rapidly improve the results on both reactive and proactive calls in contact centers.

  1. Get more executives and decision makers listening to average mediocre calls so they realize how current processes generate a less than optimal customer experience and generate more waste in terms of efficiency metrics.
  2. Gain agreement on a customer-oriented call flow with sufficient flexibility that allows agents to truly solve problems without getting penalized.
  3. Record some fantastic examples of how to use an effective call flow on relatively simple calls and get those calls into the headsets of agents so they hear them over and over.
  4. Train the agents on how to verbalize competitive advantages, product features and benefits and an effective good agenda to get a call off to a good start to the point that they do not need a script to verbalize these things.
  5. Put the supervisors/coaches through rigorous training on how to DEMONSTRATE the call flow and conduct effective simulation training that is efficient and uses repetition to build agent skills.
  6. Put into place a fun and motivational certification system that generates ground up motivation to improve.  Blended learning (self guided plus facilitator led) can make this very efficient.
  7. Train the people that manage the front-line supervisors/coaches to hold them accountable to training and coaching agents and getting away from too much time spent looking at data screens.
  8. Put effective training drills into the team meetings.
  9. Align QA teams with this process so they can help generate effective feedback and data that really helps coaches.

Consilio is an expert at bringing the best practices from top performing contact centers around the world into our clients contact centers and rapidly improving performance.