At its best, training does more for companies than anything else can. It can improve morale and the customer experience while also increasing revenue. Even more, the most effective training contributes to creating a constructive culture by 1). Convincing employees that their effort makes a difference and 2). Hedging an organization’s bet. Let me explain.
The first benefit--convincing people at every level of the organization that their effort makes a difference-- is what I call the “X-Factor mindset.” It’s a way of thinking that says that an individual’s success or failure is up to that individual, rather than the circumstances.
The concept is especially important for salespeople and whether you like it or not, leadership sets the tone for what salespeople believe. For example, it’s important to realize when leadership refers to the “spring selling season,” they are training their salespeople to believe that their success is dependent on the time of year. Even worse, they’re subtly indicating that, anytime besides the “selling season” is not a selling season.
On the other hand, if you say that, no matter the season or circumstances, people are buying and the best salespeople are winning those sales, then you’re contributing to a constructive culture. You're saying that the salesperson is the one, regardless of market conditions, to convince people to buy. When you pour into your salespeople, you are saying that they matter. If you don’t offer training, you contribute to the circumstantial culture that says that your people don’t matter and you are going to focus on getting the circumstances lined up. If you do that, you end up needing to hire more people to get less done. A constructive culture says, “We believe in the power of the X Factor” and promotes the X-Factor mindset in its people.
The second most effective benefit of training is that it hedges an organization’s bet. Think of it like asset allocation. Investors always talk about diversification because if you don’t put some of your money in gross stocks, some of it in cash, some of it in gold, etc., then you could lose all your money if one of those avenues tanks. Antsy (and usually unsuccessful) investors change their asset allocation based on the circumstances.
It’s really the same thing with training. If you know you’re going to get everything right in terms of price, product, and location, then you don’t need to train in process, people, and presentation because your circumstances will line up perfectly for the sale. But, just as even the best stock brokers know they aren’t going to pick the right stocks one hundred percent of the time, you know it’s unrealistic for any business to pick all the right circumstances. Creating a constructive culture where salespeople can sell in any circumstances gives you a balanced strategy when you attack.
Training that contributes to a constructive, not circumstantial, culture sets you apart from competitors and is the hidden variable in a company's success.