The problem then as now is lack of sustainment of learning. And the answer then as now is engaging the sales leader in the transformation process. Sales organizations continually fall short in this area. And if sales leaders are not engaged in the training and in changing behavior in the field, they can either sabotage the training or watch as the learning is quickly forgotten and old ways return.
Most often sales leaders were exemplary sellers who were promoted for their selling skills. If they’re not actively engaged in change—if they don’t see what their people are learning and understand the desired new behaviors and skills—they tend to default to how they did things way back when: “You know, this is not how I learned to do things. I’ve had a lot of success with the old way, and it got me where I am today, so we’re going back to the way that worked for me.”
When that happens, any attempt at transformation is thwarted. So what was the point of the training exercise?
Turning Sales Leaders into Sales Coaches
Sales leaders need to be a fundamental part of the process, and that involves teaching them how to become coaches. Sales coaching is not only instrumental it’s vital for realizing true behavior change within an organization. Training can teach sellers new skills, but to achieve real change takes making specific behaviors the new normal. These behaviors have to align with desired business goals, be achieved quickly, and become second nature. Speed is essential, because few organizations can afford to wait for some future period to see results.
To bridge the gap between training and performance requires coaching. Sales leaders who coach their teams become a force multiplier, keeping sellers on track and actively engaged in their own transformation.
Sales Coaching Technology for Sales Leaders
Recognizing this important element led Richardson to develop a new platform—the Richardson Coaching Cloud that makes sales performance management easy for sales managers, while achieving the desired behaviors as quickly as possible. With the Coaching Cloud, sales leaders follow a step-by-step process for capturing seller perceptions, observing selling behaviors, reviewing automatically generated coaching plans, and gaining commitment to changed behaviors. A digital scorecard provides real-time analytics and behavioral evaluations.
Whether sales leaders use a technology platform like Coaching Cloud or some other process, the important thing is that they establish a regular coaching cadence. They need to coach to the same goals as outlined in the training, require the same skill transform, observe whether the desired behaviors are being displayed, and measure verifiable outcomes.
Driving Sustainable Behavior Change
Organizations that invest in the training and development of their people expect results. But it’s not just the sellers who need to deliver. Sales leaders need to be highly involved in the transformation, mastering the content and skills themselves, and empowering and motivating their team to take responsibility for their own learning. Then they need to coach continually, with one-on-one and team sessions, individualized learning paths, and coach-led skill reinforcement sessions.
Sales transformation only happens when behaviors in the field change. From our experience at Richardson, we know that for behavior change to happen and be sustainable, it must be three things:
- Specific: identifying the desired change from one state to another
- Observed: seeing a change in behaviors through intervention and interaction
- Meaningful: recognizing relevancy and success in daily work with the desired behaviors
This is why we believe sales leaders play such a crucial role as coaches. They are the ones who make the learning stick, and they encourage their sellers to take responsibility for their own development. By coaching to the desired skills and behaviors, they make the change second nature. And results follow.