The Changing Face of Training

Today’s business is focusing on something that champion athletes have always known: the right combination of training and coaching will help achieve greatness. It’s not enough to have a superior product or service. You must have the skills to get that message across to your prospects. Training imparts the knowledge critical for success in today’s competitive economy.

Training is no longer delivered solely by the old “training mills” that used to change mindsets by lecturing participants into submission. A new breed of boutique training company is evolving. Smaller, specialized and capable of reacting to their client’s needs, this new breed offers a hands-on approach to changing old unproductive behaviors. The unpredictable nature of the economy has forced companies to rededicate themselves to learning updated skills and making sure that they have the knowledge to consistently apply the skills in the ever-changing business climate.

Outside sales consultants are being utilized in greater numbers. More and more companies find value in the fact that trainers with knowledge of strategies and tactics used in other industries may spur new thought in their own company.

Trainers are helping their clients modify old unproductive behavioral patterns. Behavior changes slowly and the new adapted behavior must be reinforced over time in order for it to stick. A long-time mentor of mine, David Sandler, developer of the Sandler Selling System, once told me, “If they don’t bring it to the party, they won’t find it there.” He explained to me that, as good as I was, I didn’t have the power to make people change. My challenge was to find trainees with a passion for success and be skilled enough to provide the path for them to change.

Most salespeople who are interested in training want a quick “fix.” They want to learn skills in an accelerated timeframe. There are two problems with this attitude toward training. The first is old patterns that have been deeply ingrained take time to break. The second is that only 2% of success is associated with skill training, so new skills alone won’t create the desired effect. Successful trainers realize that the combination of behavior modification, a strong internal belief system and updated skill sets is the only way to create lasting success.

Let’s look at the new approach to training in the classroom. Gone is the old lecture and role-play style. People stop learning, by being lectured, in junior high school. The Adult Learning Model has replaced this method. The new training environment utilizes interaction as the basis for learning. Participants develop competency by interacting with the instructor, their peers and the training material. Learning is facilitated not taught. In 1995, I traveled to Minnesota and learned facilitation skills from one of the masters, Bob Pike. It turned out to be one of the best investments I made as it took my focus away from dumping information and hoping it sticks, to engaging my students.

Trainers need to benchmark their participants so they know where to focus their learning. Many use a written evaluation that measures the hidden strengths and weaknesses of their trainees. This allows the trainer to make immediate impact by differentiating between aptitude and ability. Aptitude is “can they do it” and ability is “will they do it”.

There has been a tremendous rise in the number of business coaches. Go to the business section of any bookstore and you’ll see a proliferation of new books written on the subject. Skilled coaches help their clients raise their business esteem and see the personal or professional options so they can rewire their responses. Many who seek coaching have allowed a series of failures to create a wall that they cannot overcome alone. Others are looking for help in accomplishing goals that seem beyond their belief system.

The old days where the training budget was the first to be cut in hard times have gone by the wayside. Businesses now view training consultants as strategic partners who can help them grow and achieve their goals. Companies who wish to be known as “the employer of choice” are using training and coaching as a means to improve their company culture. They realize that higher company cultures yield high performing employees.