Tackle & Bait: Choosing the Right Training for You

Recognize you need to give your sales team some training but unsure of which approach to take to match your budget, time constraints and goals? You’re not alone. Faced with a sea of options, here’s a quick guide to finding the right approach for you.

Indulge me. Your good friends are visiting for the weekend when somebody suggests you participate in a local fishing competition near where you grew-up. Turning-up ahead of time to secure your places, you quickly realize that while you’re all fishing in the same patch of water, the level of skill and experience varies hugely between teams. Your inner competitor comes out, how do you make sure your mixed-ability bag of friends has the best chance of winning?

Hooking the big fish

A customized coaching program to quickly move your friends from novices to master fisherman is out of the question. Giving them the time to learn how to read water conditions; then giving them space and time to learn and practice the skills required to use the different rods and bait to attract and hook the big fish isn’t feasible. Like most people considering training, you’re looking for a much quicker fix to an immediate problem. Plus, while you’re competitive you just don’t have the budget for this type of investment.

Small-fry results

With the clock ticking, you jump to the other end of the spectrum. Online learning will show your friends what they need to do. Video tutorials will show them the world’s best fishermen in action. Fishing simulators will test they’ve understood the skills they’ve been shown. Of course, what this doesn’t do is enable them to put their learning into real-life practice. The chances of them absorbing the online learning and immediately translating that into a solid competitive performance is slim at best.

Trawling for answers

Looking for a happy-medium you think about a workshop. You see people flooding into the clubhouse for a talk by last year’s winning team. This seems to be both a viable and popular approach. In a workshop your friends will hear from an expert. They’ll ask questions to develop their understanding and, if the workshop is any good, there will be real-life examples and perhaps even an opportunity to test their skill in the junior training pond. It seems a logical and easy solution to a very immediate problem.

With limited time to achieve the best performance do you really want….a generic workshop?

You’re right. As passionate fishermen and great orators, last year’s winners will almost certainly share some useful insight. Your friends are a smart bunch and they’ll quickly pick-up some good tips. What would have been a frustrating first fishing experience will now be perceived positively by both you and the team. Thanks to the imparted tips, you’ll all perform better than expected and the event will be a success. Problem solved. Your own competitive nature satisfied!

But wait. With limited time to achieve the best performance do you really want to spend your time in a public and ultimately generic workshop where focus on your team and their specific challenges will be diluted? You know that a workshop will give them the boost they need to get through the first round of the competition. Yet, its unlikely to sustain them past the second. They’ll be ill equipped to face more complex environments in the latter stages and they’ll crash out. Their euphoria quickly replaced with frustration and disappointment.

Netting the right result

With time and budget constraints considered, the best solution is almost certainly for you to build a learning program yourself. Last year’s winners agree to help. Over a long lunch they impart their fishing expertise and the approach they use to help novices quickly learn the ropes. They share their materials. You add your own insight about the environment you’re competing in, where you’ve fished as a teenager. This makes the expert tips even more pertinent. You’re able to ensure your using the right language, examples and scenarios that you know your friends will recognize and respond to. Of course, you also direct the focus of the training to target the particular weak spots within your team’s skill set, rather than covering a general syllabus. Suddenly, for a similar investment of time and money, you’ve delivered a bespoke training program. It’s an intense learning experience customized to the particular needs of your team and the goal you’re trying to achieve.


Hooked on fishing

You go out the following day and exceed everybody’s expectations. Your progress to the final stages is enough to give your team an appetite to learn more and do better. They agree they’re definitely coming back next year to take the trophy. In the meantime, they’re arranging regular fishing trips to cement the behaviors and skills they’ve learnt. What started off as a knee-jerk reaction to solving an immediate problem has moved from a one-time event into an ongoing learning journey with improvement by both the participants and their team captain.

All considered it’s a positive result with demonstrable success that lays the foundation for future improvements. Who knows, with enough validation that your fishing competency is delivering the right results a customized coaching programs might the next big fish you catch!

Michael Copestake is Commercial Sales Director Strategy to Revenue, the award-winning Sales Enablement consultancy.

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