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Training can change the game


Training can change the game.
  • A few weeks ago in my capacity as a sales trainer, I was working with a small local firm who specialise in selling FMCG goods. My remit was to work with the sales manager and her three salespeople to design and implement a training programme that would improve sales numbers and conversion rates on their new outbound sales campaign.
  • It was not the normal corporate training session that I was used to. Instead of simply being the writing and delivery of learning material, the interaction throughout the two days turned into a de facto brainstorming session sitting on a training platform. I write this article because I believe that this experience has also emphasised, and indeed refreshed the reason why I became a corporate trainer and his refocused me on what role we trainers have to play in the corporate environment.
  • Let me tell the background story first. Upon meeting Karen and her team it was obvious that they were (unusually) hungry to squeeze the absolute maximum out of the sessions it also became quickly evident that even though I would spent two days preparation work on the ground with them in advance and had designed a bespoke skills learning course for them, that this would be no ordinary session.
  • There are three main factors framing why this was. Firstly the guys were all motivated to attend training. They were told what my training would cost their firm and were then promised that if they delivered an uplift accordingly that they would be rewarded above and beyond their normal incentives. Secondly they had gone to the MD and asked for a trainer to be brought it so it was driven from the bottom up, and finally they had told me in advance during our prep sessions that they wanted to have the flexibility on the course to take time to work on any tangents that could or would arise.
  • This got me thinking as I had recently had the immense pleasure of being in a workshop with the world renowned Jim Kirkpatrick who spoke at length about “training being on trial”. I love this concept,  I love that as trainers we need to convince the jury (our clients) that have a service proposition worth investing in and I loved that I was quickly getting a captive audience to on.
  • With all of the above in mind I did my usual research and market analysis, I wrote a framework and modelled what hypothesis might arrive. I can honestly say that apart from my first day as a self employed trainer I was never as nervous about what the training session would hold as I felt that the game was changing. However armed with my new found belief that “training was on trial” I can also say that hand on heart it was the most enjoyable two days I have had in ages.
  • I was sharp, prepared and on my game, the guys were exceptionally keen to learn and to discover how to implement the practices that I was teaching but what made it great for both me as trainer and them as audience was the fact that because we were working so well together we completed the course content very quickly. Having done this, we moved into a half day of pseudo idea storming. The rules were that they used me as a the mediator of an environment where they could grow ideas and concepts which we then referred back to the training to see how they could be adopted into the upcoming campaign.
  • By the end of the two day course we had changed the game together. This would normally raise some alarm bells if I had my “trainer hat” on, however because the way the course was framed for and by them, and because of the heightened awareness of what a good outcome looked like both for me and for them it worked superbly.
  • Two days after setting out on a journey together we had arrived at a well formed outcome that combined new skills and new ideas. The guys were excited , they had a clear vision, concrete objectives and were satisfied that they had the skills to deliver the tactics that we had discussed. I was basking in a healthy glow of job satisfaction knowing that my day in the corporate courtroom had been a good day for training on trial. Together we had changed the game.
  • Those of you who are au fait with the training world will doubtless know that everything that I have written is self evident. My goal in writing this is to remind all trainers/training managers and indeed consumers of training, that Jim Kirkpatrick is correct, in the current economic climate training is on trial, we need to justify our place in the corporate budget. Furthermore, regardless of how little or how much experience one has in the corporate training world, the simple fact remains, quality comes from togetherness.  If the teacher and the students are working together towards a common, well-defined objective training offers colossal value to companies of all sizes. If the audience is sufficiently motivated training becomes exponentially easier and finally if the corporate trainer is focused on return on investment rather than on simply invoicing their fee, then you have the perfect learning storm where remarkable and valuable outcomes can and will happen. Training can be brainstorming when you change the game.

Simon Kenny is Director Sales and Leadership of Simon had 11 years senior management experience at FTSE 100 levels specialising the management of sales,marketing,customer retention and CRM.He holds an M.A in business and economics

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