“If he gets hit by a bus tomorrow,” the Operations Vice President said, a cordial MBA-type in his early-forties, “we’re all screwed. All the sales training is in his head.”
The VP motioned with his thumb to the quiet man behind the mahogany desk the size of a hearse.
“Right. That’s why you’re here,” the gray haired founder replied. “Your ‘Behind Your Back’ book meshes well with our sales philosophy, so we thought you may be interested in training our sales team on how to sell our way?”
Flattered, but wary, I asked about the current training program. “How does it work now? What kind of content do you use and how do you deliver it?”
The VP cut in. “There is no process. We had licenses for a bunch of third-party content stored in the cloud, but no one used it—claimed they didn’t have time. When they did use it, they griped it wasn’t relevant to our business. They only used it when we yelled at them for not using it.” He continued, “so, now we schedule time each week for the founder to meet with new sales reps.”
“How is that process working?” I asked. “Not so good,” the founder interjected. “I travel often and when I am here, I’m extremely busy. Obviously it’s important, but it’s a time-suck. I cannot be the bottleneck in the training process.”
“So, can we go back to the bus homicide?” I asked. “If all the sales training is in the founder’s head, have you thought about getting the sales training out of his head? You could share the founder’s knowledge, but without him being present 100% of the time….”
In working with “Behind Your Back” clients, this challenge is not unique. While communication and training tools have proliferated over the past two decades, it is becoming harder—not easier—to train our teams on a consistent basis for improved performance.
First things first—do you need to change? Well, it depends on how often you hear this feedback:
- “We don’t have time.” You’re busy. I’m busy. Everyone is busy. Pulling sales reps in from the field for training is time-consuming. The focus on training is lost.
- “The training isn’t relevant.” A Deloitte survey titled, Leading in the new world of work, said it succinctly. “While employees now demand a personalized, digital learning experience that feels like YouTube, many companies are stuck with decades-old learning management systems that amount to little more than a registration system or course catalog.”
- “Retention and R.O.I. is unclear.” Employees and executives often fail to understand if the time and money invested is worth it. An FMI survey on talent development conducted recently revealed 53% of companies do not track the return on investment for training at all.
How Can We Re-Think Our Training Troubles?
A starting point is a simple equation from a smart guy at Stanford that explains the gap between exposure and adoption. B = MAT: There is often a huge gap between exposure (Pete has been trained on this repeatedly) and adoption (Pete is actually doing what he’s been trained to do).
Exposure, we know, does not guarantee adoption. This begs the question: What does guarantee adoption? Life has few guarantees, but Dr. B.J. Fogg at Stanford developed a simple, yet profound, equation to change behavior. B = MAT Behavior change = Motivation + Ability + Trigger.