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The Learning Hug Part II: Preparing for Change

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Before you drop people into a learning environment, it’s important to prepare not just your learners but your organisation for change. This is part of what I call the learning hug, wrapping services and support around training to make it stick.

Part I of this series, Training Services Wrap Around and Support Learning, explains the concept.

Now, let’s talk about the run-up to training. Before teaching people new things, you need to consider ways to prepare the organisation so that the learning fits and will be reinforced. In other words, what are you doing to prepare the ground for planting new seeds of knowledge?

There are three perspectives we need to consider:

  • How well the sales organisation is prepared and ready for change – the ground.
  • What we know about the individual needs of the learners – the seeds.
  • How to measure whether or not the learning is having the desired impact – monitoring the crops.

Is Your Organisation Prepared for Change?

To lay the groundwork, the kinds of services we wrap around training involve making sure the client has a consistent and effective sales process, sales management practises, and a leadership discipline framework. Sales professionals and their managers need to be aligned and using the same set of practises and tools. Leaders within the organisation need to be prepared to own the coming change and be champions for its adoption. Leaders are expected to step up and both drive and model the new behaviours.

At this early stage, we typically partner with clients to validate and, if needed, customise the sales stages and activities throughout the sales process so they reflect how sales professionals should be pursuing opportunities.

In the data collection phases, we bring together key leaders and subject matter experts within the client organisation to gain a thorough understanding of both the current and desired future states of the sales process. Interviews with top performers, sales leaders, and other stakeholders provide valuable perspectives on the sales or account management cycle. We dig into the details of success stories, and then we review and challenge existing best practises, layering in best practises from other high-performing sales organisations.

What Are Your Learners’ Needs?

To understand the training needs of individuals, we want to know their natural talents and applied skills. There’s an important difference between the two. Talent refers to an individual’s aptitude and motivation. Talent is part of their DNA, because people can be great at jobs that are a good fit. The flip side of the coin is that, while a poor fit can be workable, it’s not optimal. It’s hard to be passionate about a job that doesn’t play to a person’s talents.

The other element involves skills. This is the “how” of doing something. Skills can be observed. If there was a video camera taping a client meeting, what would the camera see? Talent should be assessed as a foundational element, both in pre-hiring as well as pre-training. Assessing skills is the next step to set a baseline to measure progress against. These two elements, assessing talent and skills, should come before training.

How Will You Measure Learning Outcomes?

Finally, as the saying goes, “What gets measured gets done.” Measurement shines a light on what is important. Just knowing that management is observing, monitoring, or assessing behaviour will change it. A measurement strategy is often thought of only after training concludes, but measurement is an integral part of the learning journey, from outset to completion and even beyond. Before implementing any training programme, you need to know where you’re starting from, your ultimate desired destination, and how you will measure progress along the way. By planning a measurement cadence and approach, you provide an additional value to the learning for individuals and the organisation.

This part of the Richardson Sales Performance Learning Hug provides the kind of preparation necessary to fully support the client organisation and help participants make the most of the training that comes next.

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