Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do NOT Be Tempted!

Don't be tempted to skip the Training Needs Analysis. It's easy to claim we are busy or overworked or other. It is critical -- REQUIRED -- that a Training Needs Analysis must be conducted for all new training requests.

Too often (in my industry almost always) there is such a push for training salespeople when revenues are down, but executives don't believe there is any time to wait for proper planning and development to meet the need.

Let me assure you -- if you skip the Training Needs Analysis stage, your training will miss the mark and your training organization will rightly become an excuse for poor performance. There is no "winging it" with training.

As Julie Andrews said: start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start. Let me rephrase that for our industry: start at the very beginning, with a Training Needs Analysis.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Abandon the Powerpoint

This year (2008) my team and I have been measuring our training successes with and without the use of Powerpoint visuals.

We measured several key statistical areas: Content, Instructor, Environment, and an Overall category.

When foregoing the Powerpoint visual, our Content scores are up 18%, Instructor scores are up just over 20%, Environment scores are up 9%, and the Overall category scores are up 17%.

In each case, the instructor(s) remained the same for both versions of training. No matter the instructor, each time we measured results, the scores were higher in all categories! We attribute the improvements due to an increased connection between the instructor and the trainees.

If you have conducted similar research, please let me know. Until then, get back in touch with your students -- Abandon the Powerpoint!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How dumb are your sales reps?

Wake up! Your sales reps are not dumb.

The question really is, "Why do so many sales execs treat them as if they are?"

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with some brilliant Fortune 50 salespeople in the Boston area. Almost to a person, they had this comment, "why are we being asked to sell the cool new cutting-edge services but are both: a) being paid better to sell the older services, and b) required to sell 80% of our quota on the older services before even making one penny on sales of the newer ones?"

Wow! Unfortunately, this disconnect exists in way too many sales organizations in our country. I see it with each organization I come in contact with and there is no excuse. Wall Street is kind for a day or less ... but will your company make the really tough decisions early enough to be around for that day?

Your sales reps will sell: a) what you pay them to, and b) what you tell them to -- so quit treating them as if they are dumb, they aren't. Set your incentives to drive the behaviors you want, then focus marketing and support efforts around THOSE behaviors.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sell YOU

What a great idea - !! This morning I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Executives in/around the Boston area, thru a great tool called BlitzTime. Our guest speaker covered the 3 C's of Social Marketing. She did a great job, but in her introduction, she mentioned hating salespeople. I thought, WHAT?? Aren't we all in sales???? The question is rhetorical, the answer is yes.

Two of my all-time favorites on "Selling YOU!" are:

You, Inc, by Harry Beckwith and Christine Clifford Beckwith, and
Selling for Dummies, by Tom Hopkins

We are always selling ourselves whether we know it...or not.

Recently I joined the Basho Community, what a great site providing poignant information directed to the sales professional. A blog covering CEO M. Jeffrey Hoffman's recent interview with SellingPower Magazine provided advice to the new sales manager. Hoffman is a sales sage and I appreciate what he's doing for our industry. I must, however, disagree in principle with the approach he recommends for new sales managers.

Instead, espouse the "Sell YOU!" mentality. Many sales managers find themselves in their managerial role due to a promotion received as a highly successful salesperson. Guess what - that doesn't mean they are qualified, YET.

Take ownership of your new role by focusing on your strengths, sell YOU to your new team, lift them up to your standards, and help ALL of them succeed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"I'm in Marketing."

People "in Marketing" aren't necessarily Marketers. In fact, most of the time people "in Marketing" don't seem to get Marketing, at all.

Several years ago when I worked for MCI, our meeting with our VP was in full swing when I realized the sadness of our situation. In the room, of all the VP's direct reports, only I had been in the field with actual salespeople and customers in, get this ... 3 years. No wonder we had meetings all the time to constantly REACT to what was happening around us. We didn't even know what being proactive meant.

Guess what ... this happens everywhere and it is self-evident when talking to salespeople as they are unequipped to do their jobs in large part due to the people "in Marketing" whose responsibility it is to determine the market approach.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cross-over Training

Creating Marketing and Training materials/collateral/etc. gives us an opportunity to brand, or stay within our brand... but that's a given. What about the opportunity to make our materials cross-over into the domains of both Marketing and Training?

As my team builds Training material for a large midwestern company, it occurs to me we could take the tone from our Training docs and mimic in our Marketing collateral.

Doing so creates a set of materials that are much easier to understand and eliminates the need to create a sales rep (internal) version and also a customer (external) version.

We're calling them "Solutions@Work" and they launch for my customer in May 2008. I'll let you know in a later blog if the Cross-over approach is as successful as I predict!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Ring of Familiarity

I love Seth Godin, especially his ability to re-market. Maybe that's not a word ... but it does a great job describing some of Godin's notable work. Let's look at his latest book, Meatball Sundae.

In a nutshell, Seth argues that our marketing efforts need to adapt on both sides of the Web 2.0 coin. If I sell a product (meatball), then trying to market it in new, cool , Web2.0 (sundae toppings) ways might be akin to creating a meatball sundae.

Sounds like putting lipstick on a pig. Seth takes a familiar concept from the past, re-markets it and sells a book. Now THAT is Marketing. Re-marketing, that is.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I'm NOT Sorry

As I listen to "Future Trends in Training and Development" hosted by ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) and, I am instantly disengaged when the second speaker, the Chairman and CEO of McLagan International, starts her training segment by apologizing. She doesn't say, "I'm sorry" but says she'll get through her material as fast as possible so we can get to something else. I have no idea what she said next.

Stating the goal of "getting through the material fast..." is essentially apologizing for at least two things: your content and the length of the training. First and foremost, as the expert given X amount of time to deliver training, don't apologize for content nor length (short or long!) up front -- if even at all! If a speaker is sorry out of the gate, he certainly isn't grabbing my attention, but pushing it away. Secondly, as someone purportedly qualified to speak to ASTD members (trainers!!) the Chair and CEO of Mclagan Int'l should have known better.

As a speaker, trainer, and consultant, I am NOT sorry that I get to present to you; I'm NOT sorry you are in a position to learn from my presentation. Instead, I embrace the opportunity I have as a presenter, each and every time whether I am granted 2 minutes or 2 weeks.