How can you ensure that the learning from any sales training or sales coaching initiative extends into the real world? In this video sales trainer extraordinaire Dave Kurlan shared his insights on the topic with Refract Co-Founder Richard Smith.
The video below features exceprts from a Refract webinar hosted earlier this month. Dave was generous enough to share a huge amount of knowledge and insights during the webinar and we wanted to share just some of the best bits on our blog. You can find a full transcript of the highlights below.
Full Video Transcript:
Richard Smith: How can companies immediately after training has taken place, maybe after a sales kick off has taken place and the guys are back out in the field or back to office, their day job begins again on the Friday or Monday, how can companies immediately after training has taken place start to understand how much of what’s actually being learned in that training event? To actually start to get a picture as to how much of that training has been worthwhile and how much of that training has been absorbed sufficiently by the sales people?
Dave Kurlan: Well there, there are 3 parts to this in my mind, I think you’re going to love one of the parts, part 1 is is there there has to be some kind of an assignment following the training. And I love to have sales people send an email that has 3 lessons that they learn from that particular training and where they can write down how they’re going to apply that lesson. Part 2 sales manager gets copied on that and they need to now hold their sales people accountable to applying the lesson learned in the field and on the phone. Part 3 to reinforce the learning your platform is great. We have you know 30 or 40 fantastic sales coaching and role plays living on on your Refract platform and we encourage sales managers to share one of those video coaching conversations or role plays with their sales people to reinforce what they heard this past week.
Dave Kurlan: That’s a great question and we even need to discuss the word reinforcement because some companies would refer to the training that takes place after the training as reinforcement. I don’t really think that’s reinforcement. I, I think that’s more training which is good and it’s important, you know, the training isn’t done until the sales people get where they need to go, okay, so if they’re here and we’re trying to get them to here, then we train until we close that gap. And it’s reinforced with coaching, that’s the reinforcement. So if the sales managers aren’t doing the coaching, if they aren’t doing it effectively, if they aren’t doing it frequently enough, then there is no reinforcement.
Richard Smith: Sure, sure
Dave Kurlan: Without reinforcement the training is unlikely to make a difference.
Richard Smith: Is, is it a case that, that you’re saying that, is that there is maybe a merely limited understanding of who’s responsibility it is to do that reinforcement coaching piece. If I’m a sales manager and I’ve got a department who’s looking after the sales training, surely those guys are going to do the reinforcement, I don’t need to do it that’s you know they’ve they’ve, they’re the guys that have the big initiative of developing our sales people, or do companies have it completely wrong? Should it, you mentioned sales managers there, is it those guys that should be stepping up?
Dave Kurlan: I think that it’s fair for sales executives and leadership to, to pin it on sales enablement and say "hey you guys are responsible for making sure this happens" but what they’re actually responsible for is coordinating with the sales managers that they’re doing the appropriate coaching and that they’re they’ve been trained and coached to provide the appropriate coaching on an aggressive schedule.
So if I’m the sales enablement guy, it’s my job, uh to make sure that Bill and Bob, and Tony, and Mary, and Sarah are prepared to do the the coaching that there’s a schedule to the coaching that the sales people know that they’re going to get coached and the coaching is going to take place 2 or 3 times a week with each sales person and the coaching is going to be real coaching, not a check-in call, not a curbside coaching, but let’s sit down for a half hour, get on the phone for a half hour and lets debrief a call you were on or let’s strategize a call you’re going to have and let’s dig into it and let’s do a role play and let’s make sure you learn 2 or 3 things
Richard Smith: Yeah
Dave Kurlan: And if the sales people are learning, they’ll come back for more. If the sales people find it a waste of their time, they’re not going to want the coaching, so how does the sales manager know if the coaching’s any good, the sales person’s asking when can we do this again.
Let’s talk about the sales managers who haven’t developed the ability to properly coach. We, we know only 7% of sales managers are able to do that. That’s the statistic, it’s an accurate statistic, so that means almost every single sales manager needs to improve in their ability to coach and just to take it out of sales management coaching. I know you don’t have baseball over in the UK, I know it’s cricket, but I’m gonna use a baseball example for a second and I think you’re going to translate it, cricket, for your European audience. If, if we were coaching kids to play baseball and one kid got up to the plate to hit and he swings and misses and swings and misses and swings and misses, a baseball coach wouldn’t say “Hey Billy, you need to hit the ball”, that wouldn’t be the coaching, that would the desired outcome, but it wouldn’t be the coaching. The coaching might be “Look here, the way you’re standing is all wrong, you have your hands in the wrong place, your bat isn’t high enough or it’s too low, or your elbow’s sticking out, or your hands are too far away from you, or your not moving your weight the right way, you’re not hitting an elbow slot or you’re not getting the bat to, to, to the knee quickly enough, you’re not watching the ball, you’re pulling your head off”, there's 15 points that we could look at and say here’s the problem and here’s a better way of being able to do that and here’s how you repeat it. So
Richard Smith: Yep, yep
Dave Kurlan: if we’re coaching sales people, it’s the same thing. It’s here in the sales call where it went off the rails, here’s the thing that you didn’t do, here’s the thing you could have done differently. Let’s role play how that would’ve sounded if you did it that way instead of this way. Now what did you learn from that, now how can you go back and repeat this and get a different outcome. How can we repeat this on the next call to get a different outcome. So what, so what might come obvious if we’re coaching a kid in youth sports is the same as what it takes to coach somebody to sell more effectively. It’s not telling them what you expect for an outcome, that’s, that’s
Richard Smith: Yeah
Dave Kurlan: for accountability, that’s for setting goals, it’s how is it not happening now and how it has to change in order to get them there and if we can help a sales person self-discover, that’s even better.
Richard Smith: The point you admitted about coaching and baseball was such a stark observation, you can’t provide recommendations and questions and thoughts until you actually see how the sales person is doing things now
Dave Kurlan: right
Richard Smith: and all of it so um I guess to that note, um, is is it possible for us to coach effectively without being able to do the observation piece up front. Could you, wh,wh, what’s your kind of thoughts around that as far as the critiqueality of observation within the sales coaching process?
Dave Kurlan: In the old days, you know before 2000, all selling was taking place out in the field face to face and now very little selling is taking place in the field face-to-face. A lot of it’s on the phone but for the most part, sales managers aren’t necessarily in the same building or in the same geography as their sales people. So they’re not, they’re not getting to watch anymore and offer observation. But you don’t need to watch and offer observation as a matter of fact, you can probably coach more effectively if you’re not watching the sales person in action and you’re debriefing. And a, a debrief is simply having the ability to say how to call in. That, that’s a decision and how did we get to that ending. And that’s a chain of events. And "what happened when you asked this set of questions and how did they answer this set of questions and what happened next?" And how did you respond to that and working a call backwards we’re able to identify what a sales person did or said that caused it to end up the way it ended. And then we can start coaching. So coaching can’t even start until we’ve uncovered the, the chain of events that led to an outcome but you don’t need to be there to uncover that chain of events.
The other thing we can do is use a platform like Refract get calls recorded so that we can listen to the calls and we can listen to them side by side with a sales person and we can stop the recording and say what happened right here when the prospect said this, you didn’t listen to it, instead you went and asked your next question. But the appropriate question would’ve been to follow up what they just said right here. Do that a couple of times and then say to the sales person okay now, I’ve pointed out a few things that you could’ve done differently now I want you to start pointing them out as you listen to yourself. And it becomes a collaborative interactive sales coaching session as we listen to a recording of the sales person perform.
Richard Smith: Yeah, absolutely, and, um you know it’s just like a real example of that last week with one of my um sales reps who might well be on this webinar now um recorded one of his uh prospecting calls cold calls um and you know he, he, he didn’t have the desired outcome at the end of it but felt he had a good conversation um and uh I went into that recording and found what we call the de, dis, decisive moment of the conversation, the specific minutes and seconds instance of where the call did take a different direction and it wasn’t until you know, we kinda self-reflected on that he has self-reflected on that til he thought wow yes that was exactly what uh why I end where I where I did. Where as before he was almost at a confused, I don’t really know why it ended so badly it started off so well. Um, so, so it’s great to, to hear you touching on that Dave.
Dave Kurlan: So, just to, to further along on what you said, um, if we aren’t doing those things as sales managers and sales coaches, then we, we run the risk of allowing sales people to fall into this trap. I went to Dave Pells’s Short Game School, a golf, a 2 day golf school, about 10 years ago and I, I remember clear as day that Dave said it’s not practice makes perfect, it’s practice makes permanent. So whatever you do that you keep doing, just further makes it permanent. So if we aren’t intervening in what our sales people are doing, if we aren’t inspecting it and calling their attention to it, and we just allow them to keep doing what they do, it becomes more permanent. And the chances that they’re going to get better decrease, they don’t increase. So, so it’s only their longevity and their, their mastery of the subject matter that could make them a little better. Their selling ability stagnates.