About 25 years ago, I was on a panel for an MBA program. Another panelist said something that I will never forget that changed my approach to business: “Training is an investment, not an expense.”
At the time, my team and I were very busy and were looking for things to cut to decrease stress. We tried to reduce training, a big mistake that I have learned is fairly common in the industry.
Increases in effective training can increase sales
Fast forward to 2010. I was leading a group of 14 established remodelers that had just come out of the downturn of 2008/09. I asked them who had increased training and who had cut it. As a training evangelist, I was hoping for some vindication that training mattered, but even I was surprised by their responses. The four companies that had increased training had seen an increase in sales, better retention, and a proactive sales environment even in very tough times. All 10 that had decreased it had seen a decline in sales.
Over the years, I have watched remodeling businesses treat training as an option. While there have been so many changes in business practices and design, training topics and techniques have mostly stayed the same. Businesses forgo practice in favor of just winging it, but that doesn't have to be your method of operation.
5 tips to improve sales training
The following are a few tips for improving your training mindset.
- An orchestra director cannot play every instrument. Try to make a list of the training topics, then think about how they might be accomplished by delegating training responsibilities. Do not do it all yourself.
- Create a budget for training. If you can see a 5 % ROI in effectiveness, retention and profit, then investing 1% on training would be a huge ROI.
- Deputize your team to train and mentor each other. If you have someone who is particularly good at something, ask them to do a “Top Ten Tips” on that subject in a meeting. They will not only feel pride by teaching others, but also be more committed to following their own advice in the future.
- Create a vault of training videos, webinars and topics. Leverage this collection as a coaching tool when you or your managers are developing new hires or coaching existing team members.
- Try to instill accountability in each team member. In your coaching, give them little incentives that show how they can take their game to the next level and invest in their own improvement.
When you are time-starved, it is hard to invest in things that might not have a short-term ROI. But remember: Your business is a marathon, not a sprint. This longer-term perspective is the difference between being good vs great.