How often should sales leaders meet with learning leaders during the sales training process? You might be wondering why that question is important. In the grand scheme of things, if you’re trying to implement a new strategy for your sales force, you might think that training your reps will happen when you get to that stage and that it will take care of itself.
But that mindset of training as an afterthought is likely indicative of the importance you place (or don’t) on the need to truly change behaviors — as opposed to “declaring” a new strategy and assuming that because it looks good on paper it will be perfectly adopted and executed by your sales force. Wrong!
Richardson recently partnered with TrainingIndustry.com to research “Training’s Role in the Implementation of Strategic Initiatives in the Sales Organization.” One of the topics within that study sought to determine how often sales leaders should meet with learning leaders during a strategic change initiative in order to yield the most effective results.
Perhaps not surprisingly, more than one-third of learning-leader respondents (37.5%) from very effective organizations said that they meet with sales leaders monthly. This regular interaction keeps leaders in touch often enough to know about developments and needs in their organizations to be able to help. Meeting monthly fits the natural cadence of the business cycle. It enables sales and training leaders to review key performance indicators (KPIs) and training schedules and troubleshoot issues that impact the change management process.
The next largest number of respondents from very effective organizations (25%) claimed to meet with their sales leader counterparts weekly. This might sound like overkill, but depending upon the nature of the strategic change and training required, it could be warranted. This is especially true in the early phases of a project when collaboration is necessary to craft and refine the solution. Remember, too, that time is money. You may reach a point of diminishing returns. If this is the case, then scale back to less frequent contact.
Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that only 7.7% of respondents from the least effective organizations reported meeting with sales leaders weekly. The gap between very effective and least effective groups here is significant. It seems as though sales is trying to delegate the training to learning leaders and just assumes that it will happen and be successful. Ignorance is not bliss — that lack of attention to detail is a sign of a losing attitude and sales record.
Bi-weekly and Quarterly
Interestingly, there is no difference between very effective organization respondents who meet either bi-weekly or quarterly with sales leaders (both indicating 17.5%). One could assume that if both groups increased their frequency (from quarterly to monthly or from bi-weekly to weekly), their level of effectiveness would increase.
With the very effective organizational respondents citing the highest numbers in the monthly and weekly interactions, we can speculate that one reason for that could be due to the connection with measuring and reporting monthly and weekly sales figures. Is this a coincidence or a true reflection of an effective relationship between sales and training having a direct impact on the sales process?
The biggest takeaway from this dataset is that frequency of communication between sales and learning leaders has an impact on the effectiveness of the strategic change initiative. The two functions need to be in touch enough to know what’s going on and be able to move forward together. With the right frequency of meetings, relationships are well established and goals and work styles are well known. Meeting too often can feel nagging and bothersome while meeting too infrequently creates too much distance and fosters a transactional relationship.