I have a Paragliding pilot license (for those of you who've met me, I'll preempt the weight jokes; my weight + kit + wing + harness is under the maximum weight of a typical XL wing... but only just).
The real problem is I qualified 15 years ago and I've never flown since. I can remember some of the theory; lines, risers, leading edges but I'm pretty sure if I climbed into a harness and launched myself from a hill now I'd probably either...
The point here is that you can attend a course, gain some new skills, but unless you constantly practice, reinforce and have your skills checked (or re-certified) they will rapidly become rusty and you become a danger to yourself and those around you (including cows).
There is some science behind this; it's called the Ebbinghaus 'Forgetting Curve'. Essentially, if you learn something and don't regularly reinforce it, you'll forget the skills and learning at an alarmingly exponential rate. You'll forget 80% of what you've learned within a few days and 90% within the first month.
Think about how much budget and investment you were planning to invest in your next course and then write-off 90% of it; maybe put it on a horse race.
Coming home to our world of PreSales, perhaps you're about to run a demonstration or presentation skills, discovery, objection handling, value and insight or negotiation techniques training course. Just running a course is not enough, in fact it's a waste of enablement budget unless you find a way to sustain the value and reinforce the learning.
So what are the three things you need to have in place before you run your next PreSales skills course:
Let's first dig into what's meant by behaviours and desired results by looking at the Kirkpatrick model. When I first met the Kirkpatrick model, it was a revelation. Its four levels of training evaluation instantly clarified something I was finding difficult to explain, how to link:
Level 1: Reaction: how engaging and relevant the learning was to
Level 2: Learning: the skills and knowledge acquired to
Level 3: Behaviour: the changes in behaviour applying what's been learned to
Level 4: Results: the results and outcomes that prove the ROI of the training investment.
For me, Levels 3 and 4 are critical. There is no point in investing in any training unless you have a plan to constantly check and reinforce the behavioural change. If you're about to invest in demonstration skills, for instance, how will you ensure that the team are constantly utilising and building on the new skills and behaviours. Highly developed demonstration skills on their own don't win deals but poor demonstration skills very definitely can lose you deals. Think about the cost of sales and opportunity cost of coming second (losing) in a large enterprise 'must-win' deal.
You did link the planned training investment to business results didn't you? In fact the way to establish training needs and investment is to start at Level: 4 Results, what outcomes do you want, perhaps:
Once you know the Results you're aiming for that will tell you Level 3: Behaviour, what behaviours are needed to produce those results? Then you'll know Level 2: Learning, what skills, techniques, enablement tools, reinforcement, coaching and learning are needed to produce the desired behaviours and then you can ensure there'll be a positive Level 1: Reaction to the course or workshop itself.
So back to the 'three things'; as a manager you need to revisit the skills learned in a course, promote best practices and early successes using the skills, set expectation levels, attend dry-runs, 'inspect what you expect' and focus on the business results. Oh, and maybe make sure your team don't land on any cows!
What do you think? How are you ensuring the sustainability of your training investments and measuring their impact on client revenue, success, retention, expansion and consumption? Please comment below.
For the purists out there, please forgive the 'flexible' use of the term 'coaching'.
Don is the Founder of Winning Skills Ltd: Demonstrating Excellence and Enabling Winning Customer Engagements. Don is also an organisational consultant and facilitator for 2WIN! and founded the London-based PreSales Leaders Forum. Talk to Don about building PreSales organisations, best-practice PreSales skills and processes and how to build the perfect 'Wow' demo. Let's connect on LinkedIn or talk firstname.lastname@example.org