To Train or Not to Train

I am writing this at the Kansas City Airport on my way back from meeting with one of my clients.  Last month we offered a training program for their staff in selling skills. She reported that they saw an immediate increase in sales after the program. She listened in on their calls to see what had changed. To her pleasure they were asking good, open-ended questions. They were taking time to listen to the client's responses and using their comments to match them with the right products. They were even closing right at the correct time.  She was excited.

Unfortunately, not all of the reps kept it up. Within weeks, some of the rep's sales had slipped back to their original level. Another listening survey showed the cause. Each of the reps whose sales were down had slipped back into their old ways. It was as if they were on a high during training, and now it was business as us usual. Surprised? I'm not. For years these reps had been trained to operate in telling mode. They gave the same pitch to every caller. Now we were asking them to change, and change takes time.

So what do you do? Forget training? No, but you may want to think about the reinforcement that it takes to make a training program stick.

Whether you are offering training for your team or simply taking a training program yourself, recognize that old habits are hard to break.  There must be a reinforcement regiment to turn that training into practice and the practice habit.  Just like growing a garden, you need to plant the seeds, water them, fertilize them, water them again and again... Then you will start seeing the benefits. Eventually the flowers will all begin to grow, but you need to work hard and have faith, not give up-- then you see the results.

Like anything in life, learning a new skill takes time and change. Change doesn't happen quickly and if it does it typically goes away just as fast.

There is no liquid diet out there that really works forever. Don't expect that with your people. If we were training 5 year olds who don't have bad habits already, they could make the new information stick a lot quicker. That's why our children can learn a new language or even two much faster then we can.

Unfortunately 5 year olds don't have the rest of the pieces of the business pie. Too bad because I would love to train for a few hours and then have everyone lay down for a little nap time.