Episode 228: Lorenzo Hill on Reinforcing Behavior Change After Training
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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.
Today I’m excited to have Lorenzo Hill from Vonage join us. Lorenzo, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.
Lorenzo Hill: Thank you, Shawnna. As you mentioned, my name is Lorenzo Hill and I am a sales enablement professional at Vonage. If you don’t know Vonage, we are a cloud-based communication platform provider recently acquired by Ericsson, the largest 5G provider in the galaxy. My sales career started back in 2006, many, many moons ago. I worked as a publishing rep selling textbooks to college professors. I did that for about 10 years and then the company I was with launched a program called the regional rep trainer, in which reps who were top performers, could also take on an additional role of onboarding or assisting with the onboarding of new hires, so I got my feet wet in training and enablement with that role. I did that for a few years and then officially became the full trainer for that organization and that was about 2017. I’ve been in training enablement since that time and that’s where I am today.
SS: Well we’re excited to have you here. You talked a little bit about your background, particularly around sales and sales training programs. What are some of your best practices to ensure that you develop and deliver really engaging training content?
LH: Sure. Speaking of content as far as the actual delivery of the content, I would say the number one best practice for me is to ensure that I am considering the attendees’ experience. As with adult learners, you may know, they come with a lot of experience and if you don’t leverage that experience or allow them to utilize and share that experience, there may be a little bit of resentment. There may be a little bit of closed-mindedness which can derail any sort of training. I always try to incorporate the learner’s experience by saying this is how we do it but tell me how you used to do it and I think that opens the door for a great engaging training session.
As far as the actual development of the content, it’s really just a matter of finding out what the main purpose or the goal of the training is and what the content is supposed to do. Is it instructional training, or is it behavior change training? Those different types of goals can have an impact on the type of training or the type of content that we develop.
SS: Absolutely. Oftentimes behavior change is one of those goals, I would imagine. Driving that behavior change, especially through training can take some time and some effort. What are some of the obstacles that you’ve encountered that can prevent behavior change?
LH: Oh, there are no obstacles. Totally kidding, but wouldn’t that be wonderful? It goes back to the old saying you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. A lot of times you can deliver the most impactful, engaging training and everyone is high-fiving, they’re giving you high marks on the post-survey and then they go right back to the same exact behaviors without any changes. Really trying to instill the importance of the change, and why the change is necessary, I think sometimes it can open the eyes of the attendees and really help them to focus on why this change is needed.
Another obstacle is just reinforcement after the training has taken place. That’s where we have to leverage our sales leaders a lot because once they leave the training room there in the hands of the managers and the leaders and so we have to really have them on board hand in hand with us to reinforce that training so that we can see that that behavior change. If that’s not in lockstep together, to put it bluntly, you’re spinning your wheels and wasting your time.
One of the challenges I also want to touch on is that sometimes as sales enablement we have too many tools, and too many resources and the last thing that we want to do as sales enablement is to take the sales teams away from selling. Our job is to obviously make it easier, make it more efficient for the sellers to sell and so sometimes having all these tools can get in the way. One of the number one jobs a sales enablement team can do is to ensure that the tools and resources are easy to find. At Vonage, we have what we call a confluence page where it’s like a Wikipedia page. You can go to this site and enter whatever information you’re looking for and you’ll find a list of resources that you can use that relate to that topic.
The other part of that is, as you probably know, information processes are constantly evolving and changing and so be sure that you are rotating the stock, I like to say. You have old documents, and old resources and you update them and get the old ones out of there so the reps aren’t trying to figure out which one is the most current and which one has the most accurate information. Just little things like that I think can add to the efficiency of what the reps are trying to do.
SS: How have you gone about overcoming some of those challenges to ensure that the behavior change really takes hold post-training?
LH: I love this question because this is something I’ve really tried to bring light to at Vonage. How can we ensure that the behavior change is taking place once training happens? The first thing is, as I mentioned before, to be in lockstep with the leaders. The leaders that I support have weekly team meetings, so I try to commit to at least two of those per month. That way it allows me to be in step with the team. What are some of the team’s concerns? What’s top of mind for them? I’m able to hear those concerns firsthand and then I’m also able to reinforce some of the initiatives and the training that we’ve offered or will soon be offering. Just to have that team together to be able to share that with them in that environment sometimes reinforces some of the changes that we’re trying to make.
SS: Absolutely. Now, you’ve talked a little bit about partnering with leadership. I’d love some really practical advice for our audience. How do you partner with sales managers and leaders to reinforce behavior change?
LH: As I mentioned, attending their meetings makes them feel as if I am a part of the team, a resource they can leverage if they need any sort of sales enablement from tools, and resources to coaching. I want to make myself available to that team. Additionally, I think having the managers or the leaders involved in the development of any sort of initiative or any strategies starts with understanding what the team needs. I think sometimes as sales enablement we can sort of put the cart before the horse and that we think we know what the team needs, we think we know when they need it and sometimes the manager or the leader has a little better understanding of that information. I think it’s really important to keep the leaders in the loop on any future or current initiatives that will be presented to their teams.
SS: Absolutely. I think the other reason it’s important for frontline managers to be involved is the coaching element. From your perspective, what role does coaching play and driving behavior change, and what are some ways that you’ve designed coaching programs to optimize behavior change?
LH: Well, you hit on something that’s a sensitive subject for me. Just because of bandwidth we aren’t able to get as involved in the coaching aspect as I would like. There are two of us that support the Americas and we have 700 or 800 reps. I may be understating that if we count some of the SDRs and BDRs. There’s just not enough of us to go around to provide that more intimate coaching. We do offer group call coaching, where we pull together teams and listen to recorded calls and have each of the reps provide feedback to each other. We get a lot of positive feedback from that exercise and activity.
As far as being able to coach, we just are not able to do it in that capacity right now. With that being said, I am always open to ideas or strategies that can sort of duplicate or clone us as sales enablement so that we can be in more places to provide those services. To that fact, coaching for us really falls back on the leaders and so we’ve developed a coaching plan or coaching strategies for the leaders that they all went through that basically showed the principles of coaching, what’s the most effective coaching style or strategies and tactics, and so every manager went through that training.
SS: I think that’s fantastic. That is absolutely the best place to start and a cloning machine would be nice these days.
LH: For some of us.
SS: Very true. Now, to close, can you share how you track if the behavior is changing and some of the key metrics that you’re measuring for this particular aspect?
LH: The first step in measurement is what we call our NPS surveys. We distribute those after every session, workshop, and what have you. We take the feedback from those surveys very seriously. We’re always looking for ways to improve not only the sales team but to improve ourselves as well. We take that feedback, constructive or however, and we adjust accordingly. In addition to the surveys, again, I’m always in front of the managers and I’m asking what’s going on and what we need. Sometimes it’s something such as sales pipeline cleanup and so we’ll look at that for a few weeks and offer some content to kind of provide suggestions on how to maintain a healthy clean pipeline and then we’ll just look at that over the next few weeks, like I said, to see if it is improving. If not we’ll do some remediation. Usually, with the help of the managers and the leader, those types of things usually correct themselves after one or two interactions with the sales teams. Other than that it is kind of hard to measure some of the changes that you’re trying to instill or identify, but the surveys are the main resource that we use.
SS: Fantastic. Well Lorenzo, thank you so much for joining us to talk about how you’re approaching behavior change advantage. I really appreciate your time.
LH: I appreciate you having me.
SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit salesenablement.pro. If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.