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Are all your people speaking the same language?
Are they rowing in the same direction?
Is everyone singing off the same hymn sheet?
Training provides one important part of the business jig-saw, but like all the other pieces (marketing, management, recruitment, pay-schemes, merchandising, product line-up and pricing policy, it has to fit together.
(Jig-saw illustration here)
In 1989 I started providing training for a company that was number two in its field. Three years later they were number one and a few years after that I was invited to the boardroom of the (now) number two operation. Their pushy and hard-selling style had been relegated into runner-up slot by an altogether more intelligent, long-term, customer-caring and transparent approach to doing business. They had already reacted by changing their training message but so far, it hadn’t given them back their primary position nationally and there were no signs whatsoever of my client losing their grip.
Maybe now they wanted to know what invisible ingredient was different and thought they’d get it from the horse’s mouth. I obliged by attending. There’s nothing secret about it and being entirely external, I can be hired by the competition unless there is an exclusivity arrangement in place. In a highly convivial meeting in a most impressive boardroom I outlined the training messages and as much as possible of the philosophy behind it. This was met with a flat response from the board and the general message to me was, “We do all that.”
Actually, they didn’t. True, their training message was much updated and now very similar to mine, almost eerily so in fact. This seemed to have support of at least a couple of people on the board. But the sales philosophy at the point where it met customer enquiries hadn’t evolved one iota. Sales Managers used high levels of control to keep salespeople in a state of stress, needing the next sale and fearful for their positions. Commissions rewarded hurriedly closed sales beyond all other considerations and salespeople who thought more about receiving a fat pay packet this month than a long career, a clear conscience and a good night’s sleep were still occupying the best positions.
Until sales managers believed in the new direction the company claimed to be taking nothing would change. Until it impacted on recruitment, the same culture would prevail. Until pay schemes supported a different approach a different type of individual would not apply for the vacancy in any case and none of it would work unless the products, services, pricing policy, customer-care and support, marketing and merchandising all slotted into place.
I too have had motivated, energised salespeople leave my courses only to be told by sales managers to forget what they have learned. In four days they have recognised wisdom over folly, psychology over cheap tricks, truth over fabrication. Finally they understand that good values can earn them real profitable business which is less likely to cancel, more likely to repeat and to generate referrals. By insidiously attempting to undermine the training, the dim-witted sales manager does not win his robot pawn back, he only serves to perpetuate confusion. It’s too late to unlearn just like once you’ve learned to ride a bicycle, you can’t forget how and it isn’t that I am so influential that four days with me trumps months with a charismatic sales manager with several years of trickery under his belt, it’s just that eventually, the truth always wins. Spinoza nailed it when he said,
“He who has a true idea,
knows spontaneously that he has a true idea.”
Falsehoods can prevail when there is no known alternative and people can be led up the wrong path by someone clever enough to manipulate others but we know the wisdom of truth when we hear it.
I could go on but you’ve probably figured out in which column your business currently fits. Incidentally, businesses which operate on philosophies which support the right hand column style of operation can be fixed, just not by a brief training intervention.