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Five Misconceptions About Training

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Isobel Rimmer, director and co-founder of sales training consultancy Masterclass says that people are not always receptive to training because they do not see what the end results will mean to them. Here she lists the five most common misperceptions associated with training.


In my experience, training is met with mixed emotions. To a financial director, it is often viewed as an expense that they might not want to incur, as the returns on the investment are not immediately evident. “Training,” to the ears of a sales person or team manager, is one of those words that brings a number of responses to mind – most of them sound something like a whinge “Training? Why me? What did I do wrong?”

Yet marketing, L&D and HR directors continue to fight an uphill battle to get “their people” training for everything from sales techniques at the C-level to better telemarketing skills. From their perspective, they see training as an investment that can pay out dividends in the short and long term.

Based on my 20-plus years in the business of training people in the sales channel and at the vendor level, I see five major mistakes people make about training. This includes those trying to set up a session for their company, or avoiding attending one being organised. These misconceptions centre on: time, resources, knowledge, appropriateness, and returns.

1. Time: “I’m too busy trying to make a living to take time out for this.” Sales people are paid a small base salary and usually have large scope for increasing their income from large sales commissions. If they are not spending their day closing deals, they are losing income. So, anything that takes them away from selling, is a hindrance to their personal profitability and happiness.

However, if they see sales training as a means of sellingmore effectively, and to a broader range of people, they will understand that training is in their best interest to undertake.

2. Resources: “It costs too much in staff time and money to arrange.” A training consultancy worth their crust will alleviate any strain in planning and executing a training programme for its clients. Furthermore, good training does not have to be expensive. The effective training consultancy will identify and help the client prioritise skills needs and develop a simple programme that address immediate needs with scope to build on the programme in future.

3. Knowledge: “What can they teach me? Trainers have no field experience.” Our experience shows that the best trainers come from the field and combine that experience with their knowledge of how to set and reach goals, and how best to communicate with decision makers and influencers in organisations. Again, the ideal training consultancy will be able to demonstrate considerable knowledge of the client’s business sector and the challenges they face.

4. Appropriatenes: “They will sell us a one-size-fits-all programme, that we can get on the cheap else where or do ourselves.” The successful training consultancy will be able to provide their clients with a bespoke programme based on a proven proprietary process. A curriculum appropriate to the individual client / company is key to delivering true value to the participants and helps them address issues specific to their business. By understanding the client’s business, it is possible to tailor a training session to help deliver the best results – from the field to the call centre.

5. Returns: “There are no real measurements in training.” The training consultancy you engage should have comparative statistics about the performance of clients after completing their courses. Work with a consultancy that helps you identify the performance metrics that matter in your business and measure results against those. It doesn’t need to be restricted to just increasing revenue or margin – volume of pipeline, conversion ratios, reduced staff attrition (turnover) – and there are many more, equally measurable. They should also have statistics and testimonials from referenceable clients who are in businesses similar to you in size, focus, or industry. Without something to prove that their methodology works, it’s like taking a prescription medicine that has not been through any documented drug trial. You will not know what you are going to get.

There are other considerations to take into account, but these five are at the top of my list.“Training” is quite a good word, if you emphasise the benefits it will deliver to you when your programme is completed.

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