Four Keys to Improved One-on-Ones

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Business today is filled with so much pressure to focus on things that are both important and urgent, things that need to be addressed right now! This hair on fire pressure forces us into reactive behavior based on what needs to be done right now, instead of focusing our energy and resources on developing a more strategic behavior based on our long-term goals.  We sometimes feel as if we just move from one emergency to the next, never finding enough time to catch our breath and plan for the future.

Spike SanteeFour Keys to Improved One-on-Ones
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Four Keys to Better Referrals

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Before his death in 2012, Zig Ziglar was one of the world’s most popular sales trainers and motivational speakers. He was born in rural Alabama and grew up in rural Mississippi. He went from a small skinny kid with a funny name to leading a worldwide sales organization, based on his simple philosophy, “You can have anything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want in life, first.”

Spike SanteeFour Keys to Better Referrals
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Four Keys to Self Improvement

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Thanks to new technology that allows researchers to measure the brain’s responses to learning stimuli, the science of learning is advancing faster every day. We now know more about how the brain learns that at any time in human history. Despite all this new technology and research, there is one stubborn fact that troubles the teaching community, people will only learn to the level to which they are motivated to learn. In other words, it is a personal decision as to whether you are willing to learn something new.

Spike SanteeFour Keys to Self Improvement
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Four Keys to Better Training

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Are your salespeople getting the training they need to achieve their career goals with your company?

According to a worldwide study of over four thousand companies in seventy different countries across twenty different industries, IBM found that eight out of ten corporate leaders feel their employees do receive the training they need to achieve their career goals.

Unfortunately, according to the same study, only half of the employees at those very same companies feel they are getting the training they need to achieve their career goals.

The disconnect between what corporate leaders think they are providing in training and what the employees feel they are receiving in training is a major problem that contributes to employee turnover.

Employees who don’t feel they are getting the training they need to achieve their career goals with your company are twelve times more likely to consider leaving than those employees who do feel they can achieve their goals with your company.

The problem is even more exacerbated among your new employees. They are thirty times more likely to leave your company if they look around and sense, they won’t be able to achieve their career goals working for you.

Considering how much time and effort you spend on the recruitment process and the time lost to filling the same role again and again, the impact of poor training can have a devastating impact on your company’s sales performance and profit margins.

To see if training has a role in improving company performance, IBM looked at the best performing companies and compared them to the worst performing companies. In the best performing companies, eighty four percent of the employees felt their company provided the training necessary to achieve their professional goals. That is sixty eight percent better than the companies without a focus on their employee training needs.

Clearly, companies that devote attention and resources to providing their sales team with relevant and appropriate training see a significant return on their investment.

Small increases in training produces remarkable increases in results. Teams that received forty hours of training outperformed teams that received just thirty hours of training by three hundred percent.

One reason for this disconnect between the what corporate office thinks is going on and what the salesperson on the street feels may stem from the lack of objective training metrics. Professor Emeritus at University of Wisconsin and Honorary Chairman of Kirkpatrick Partners, there are four ways to evaluate training: reaction, learning, behavior and results.

If you value your human talent as one of your key drivers of success and want to improve your sales training, here are Four Keys to Effective Sales Training to help you get started.

Key #1 – Measure Reaction or Engagement

Your employees will only learn up to the level they are motivated to learn. If they don’t feel the training material will have a positive impact on their performance, they will perceive the training as a waste of their time.

At the completion of your training, survey your employees on their engagement with the training material. Allow anonymous responses.

Create a written survey and scientifically measure their responses over time. Questions should be closed end questions like:

The sales training on using the telephone to set appointments will help me increase the number of appointments I set on the phone.

Then provide the employee with a set of choices like; strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, or strongly agree.

Come up with five or six questions like these:

  • The sales training on using the telephone to set appointments was a good use of my time.
  • I would like more training like using the telephone to set appointments.

Ask for any additional feedback on the training materials.

Measure the responses to tweak your training accordingly. If they don’t feel like your training is helpful, you should consider making some improvements. Otherwise, your employees are just going to tune you out.

Key #2 – Measure Learning or Retention

Did your employees learn the information? Did they commit the information to memory? Measuring retention is done by administrating a quiz, either a written quiz an oral report. Wait a day or two before administrating the quiz. If the employee doesn’t pass the quiz, you should have them restudy the training materials and take the quiz again.

Key #3 – Measure Behavior or Application

Are your employees applying the new training in their daily activities? You can measure the application of the new training through your call reporting system. Review their application or lack thereof in your weekly one-on-one meetings. Determine if the salesperson is willing to learn or has other issues preventing them from demonstrating competency with the new skills.

Key #4 – Measure Results or Performance

The ultimate measurement of your sales training is improved sales performance. By keeping good records of sales performance from before and after the training, you’ll be able to see your efforts really pay off.

Let me know if I can help.  

Spike SanteeFour Keys to Better Training
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Four Keys to Effective Role Play

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Role-playing is the standard training method in the military, police and fire rescue and especially, sports. Role playing is essential in professions where quick decision-making is necessary. That’s why role playing should be a regular component of your sales training.

Spike SanteeFour Keys to Effective Role Play
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Reduce Your Turnover

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According to an IBM Workforce Study, 71% percent of the CEOs in the survey cited human capital ahead of products, customer relationships and brands as the leading source of sustained economic value.

The same study found that employees who do not feel they can achieve their career goals at their current organization are 12 time more likely to consider leaving than employees who do feel they can achieve their career goals. Even worse, this number skyrockets to about 30 times more likely for new employees.

The study reveals a wide disconnect between company leaders and training recipients when it comes to the usefulness of the company’s training. Seventy eight percent of the CEOs believe new employees in their organization are getting the training they need. However, only 58% of the training recipients feel they are getting the training they need.

Consider for a moment what is happening at your company. Does your company have a similar gap between what you think your training is providing and what your employees think?

How much do you spend annually on employee training? How much time and effort do you spend on recruiting and then, the time lost to filling the same position again? The real cost to your bottom line can be significant.

The Gallup Organization estimates that U.S. companies are losing a $1 trillion every year due to voluntary turnover. The most astounding part is that most of the cost of employee turnover is largely company self-inflicted.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall turnover rate in 2017 was 26.3%.
  • Estimates put the cost of replacing an individual employee from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary — and that’s a conservative estimate.
  • So, if your company has 25 sales people, with an average income of $50,000, your turnover and replacement costs could range anywhere from $165,000 to $650,00 per year.

Voluntary turnover is costing you money. You also know that turnover has many other costs that don’t show up in your P&L. When you lose a salesperson, there is always a transition period that is sometimes marked by billing and collection problems and lost relationships.

Voluntary turnover also affects internal morale because it may cause those sitting on the fence to decide that they too should leave your company. Remember the statistic, employees who don’t think they can reach their career goals at your company are 12 more likely to leave than those who don’t. New employees who don’t think they can reach their career goals are 30 times more likely to leave.

This is not just the normal turnover.

Gallup found that 52% of employees who left said their manager or the company could have done something to prevent their decision to leave. Fifty one percent say that in the three months before they left, neither their direct report or higher ups talked with them about their job satisfaction or how they felt about their future with the company.


In three months, nobody asked these employees how they felt about their job? Nobody talked with them about their future? It’s no wonder that they decided they didn’t have a future with the company.

You may be thinking to yourself these statistics don’t apply to you and your company. You could be thinking, “We meet with our sellers all the time, especially every week in their one-on-one.” The real question is, are you talking with your employees or are you talking to your employees?

Here is a suggestion. Structure the format of your one-on-one meetings so that the first half of the meeting is devoted to whatever the salesperson wants to talk about. The second half of the meeting is for your agenda. Encourage your salespeople to keep a folder at their desk where they can store notes about things that are important to them. You should do the same. We call this the One-On-On Meeting Folder System.

Students of Stephen R. Covey and the Eisenhour Time Management Grind know that we all need to spend more time in the Important but Not Urgent quadrant. That’s were the truly fundamental work is done.

Now before you start thinking that the salesperson will take up too much time and you’ll never get time to run through the numbers, believe me, it won’t happen like that. You should be so lucky to have salespeople with such foresight.  After the first meeting or two, you will need to remind them to come to the meeting with the things that are important to them. If they don’t come prepared, you should have some questions designed to get them talking about how they feel about work, their lives, their dreams.

It is critical to the success of your team to train your managers to have frequent, meaningful conversations with employees about what really matters to them.

Let me know if I can help. Talk to you soon.

Spike SanteeReduce Your Turnover
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