NOBODY WANTS “SALES TRAINING”….until there’s a problem!
That was the headline of a post I written this past spring that received a fair amount of feedback….most in agreement…..some not so much. We can agree upfront that training/sales training is NOT the only profession considered an afterthought in today’s corporate world, it is however I think the most misunderstood. Everyone says collectively that our society wouldn’t advance without some process that supports “Personal Development”; the challenge in my estimation is understanding microscopically what that “Process” is. Before we embark into the “Process” of training let’s look at the standard definition of training: Training is the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies.  After searching for numerous definitions on training this one was probably the closes comprehensible definition I could find, and I’m not a huge fan of Wikipedia as a reference source. Be that as it may, the point here is that “Training” is defined in so many undefined/abstract ways that it’s no wonder it falls into the abyss waters of “INDIFFERENCE”. It’s a human reaction not to embrace or champion a cause that has little specificity/clarity of the overall process and goal…..and “Training” I’m afraid falls into that category. Until something disastrously goes wrong with regards to someone’s “Competency” the immediate reaction is “WE NEED TRAINING”, and while this seems like the best solution at the moment the underlying problem is ALWAYS underneath the surface. So, inevitably training is used as a plug for the hole in the boat which expands and gets bigger, thus training can’t sustain the widening hole in the boat…..and it fails. Once the training fails then the perception of its effectiveness wanes, it continues to be used as a band-aid, and its importance is deemed “INDIFFERENT”. I’ve always felt having spent years in the training profession that “Training” is about “Enhancing one’s Behavior”. “Enhancing one’s Behavior” has to be continuous and unwavering, and devoid of “Microwave Execution”.
The “Process” of Changing Behavior!
I don’t care what they say…changing someone’s “Behavior” is harder than brain surgery. Yep, I said that and I’m not intentionally trying to be provocative I absolutely think one of the most challenging things to do is changing someone’s behavior. Please note that I’m specifically saying “Behaviors”….not “Habits”. True, habits are difficult to change and being from the sales/marketing profession we were always “Trained” to pick up on habits and alter them…..in my later wisdom I’ve come to think that was incorrect instruction. “Behaviors” drive habit and identifying the underlying root of the behavior is a massive challenge, therein lays the training profession’s conundrum…effectively changing behavior. One of my favorite authors Ferdinand F. Fournies (“Coaching for Improved Work Performance”) spells it out nicely:
“The behaviorists tell us that for every human action there are two possible categories of consequences to the individual: there could be a positive consequence and there could be a negative consequence. One primary rule of the behavior modification concept, which is most meaningful to you, is as follows: Behavior that is followed by a positive consequence (to the individual behaving) will tend to repeat itself. As an example, let’s at how the action of mowing the lawn might look in this concept”:
MOWING THE LAWN TODAY
- Lawn looks nice
- Easier to do because grass not that long
- Neighbors tell you how nice the grass looks
Don’t play golf today
Perspire in hot sun
NOT MOWING THE LAWN TODAY
- Play golf
- No perspiration
- No physical effort
- Lawn looks terrible
- Grass too long next weekend-hard to cut
- Neighbors make snide remarks about lawn
I point out this example albeit a very simple analysis of some of the possible alternative consequences to doing or not doing something in this case mowing the lawn. You can see the complexity as the positive consequence for not mowing the lawn might result in some very long grass. The point here is that “Training” is complex and simply looking at it as a quick solution to a multi-faceted problem sets it up for failure….100% of the time.
So, I think the reason for the “Training” profession’s lack of perceived “Value Strength” has a lot to do with misunderstanding and the complex processes to which it has to successfully perform. I decided to enter the wonderful world of sales training years ago because I wanted to obtain that skill set, but, I also wanted to get an understanding of its foundation….because I was one of those who often complained about it. After spending a few years in the training profession I’ve come to learn of its tremendous value and yes its complexity. I wish “Training” wasn’t seen as a “Thankless” profession but a profession that has value and not only on one’s career….but one’s life as well.
Take a look at my presentation on “Building a Global Sales Training Department”: http://www.slideshare.net/aharrell2000/building-a-global-sales-training-dept Start your 2015 business year placing “Sales Training” top priority.
AH2 & Beyond Consulting