Sales Leadership Key: Create Personalized Learning Paths

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A big part of the sales leader’s job is to determine the measurable behaviors that will lead to success for a given salesperson, and to evaluate the numbers that connect to those behaviors. But it is important to remember that your responsibility does not stop there. Creating a learning culture in sales organizations is an effective way to ensure continuous skill development, adaptability to market changes, and long-term business success. Once you know what someone needs to do to be successful in their current sales position, your job is to find out what they will need to do to move into the next position that makes sense for both them and the organization … and to help them to create a learning path that supports that goal that is unique to them.

Never stop asking yourself:

  • “What is the next career step for this person?”
  • “What experiences should this person have, and what results do they need to generate, in order to be successful at their current job – and prepare for the next job?”
  • “What tactics do they need to master to create those results?”
  • “What mindset should they have—meaning what habitual ways of looking at issues are likeliest to lead to success?”
  • “What behavioral plan should they be following so that they stay ahead of the curve, and so that nothing falls through the cracks?”
  • “How will I assess this team member against the most important benchmarks? How can I train and coach the person to close the gaps?”

Be careful. Learning community paths cannot be team-wide or company-wide. They are job-specific and employee-specific. What Salesperson A needs to learn next is probably not going to be what Salesperson B needs to learn next. Always assess what makes a given team member different from everyone else on the team.

Note, too, that it’s vitally important that salespeople co-create their learning plan. Let them participate. Instead of telling people what they should or could be getting from their development path, help them discover it for themselves through the questions you ask when you’re meeting one-on-one. That way the learning path they commit to will have more potency and what they eventually learn will be far more likely to “stick.”

Learning will then be an important personal priority for them—not some edict coming from the boss. That’s the way you want everyone on your team thinking about their personal and professional development: like it’s all about them.

Excerpted from Scaling Sales Success.

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