Reinforcing Behavior Change Post-Training

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Picture this: it’s time for training, and sellers are alert, engaged, and actively learning. After it’s over, reps give a round of applause and talk about how great the session was. A couple of weeks pass, and many reps can’t remember the training and haven’t put any of their knowledge into practice.

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common for many enablement teams. That’s because while comprehending training material is one thing, putting it into action is another. Even the most engaging and essential training can fade in memory if the knowledge and skills are not consistently reinforced.

Behavior change is an ongoing process for reps. Rather than create singular initiatives, enablement can think about how to help reps continually improve over time. By partnering with leadership, communicating the importance of behavior change, and utilizing coaching, enablement can help reps put that knowledge into action.

Emphasize the Importance of Behavior Change

Change takes effort. For a rep to actively work towards changing their selling behaviors, delineating expectations and exploring the ‘why’ behind the change can help. Enablement and sales trainers can help reps reach their full potential by getting buy-in from sellers for behavior change.

“You can deliver the most impactful, engaging training, and then [reps may] go right back to the same exact behaviors without any changes,” said Lorenzo Hill, sales enablement executive at Vonage. “Try 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.”

Enablement can reinforce behavior change beyond the training program by recognizing sellers who are making improvements and seeing success as a result of the new behaviors. Providing a platform to shout out employees when they reach a new milestone can be encouraging and help motivate other reps to engage in the new way of doing things. By being forthright about the need for change and providing a helping hand, enablement can help sellers break away from the status quo and reinforce positive selling behaviors.

“The biggest change is to get people’s mindsets around supporting the vision and implementing the changes and then sticking to the new way of doing things,” said Helen Cummins, head of enterprise field productivity and readiness at AWS. “Change is really hard. If people can’t share the same vision, then you’re not going to be able to successfully execute in the new direction.”

Partner With Sales Managers to Hold Reps Accountable

Enablement can put initiatives in place to reinforce behavior change after training, but it can help to collaborate with managers to hold reps accountable and ensure that progress is being made.

“We have to leverage our sales leaders because once sellers leave the training room, they’re in the hands of the managers and the leaders, so we have to have them on board, hand-in-hand, with enablement to reinforce that training,” said Hill.

Enablement can schedule regular meetings with managers to discuss opportunities and understand their priorities in order to ensure that target behavior changes align with the needs of their buyers and sellers. This regular communication with managers can also help keep enablement top of mind and reinforce its value.

“The most important success factor in sales performance improvement is frontline sales manager involvement during and after a training event,” said Robert Koehler, GTM advisor at Scale Venture Partners. “If you only have a one-time event, you don’t get that reinforcement from the frontline sales managers who were really a key lever in providing lasting behavior change in sales organizations.”

Because managers, not trainers, are the ones that sellers report to, they are a crucial force in ensuring that sellers are implementing behavior changes. Regularly connect with them to ensure that reps are being held accountable and to ensure that managers’ expectations are being met.

Coach to Reinforce Change

Ongoing coaching can be one of the most critical ways to reinforce training knowledge and help put it into practice. Coaching can help sellers perform a test drive of their new skills and gain immediate feedback.

“Ideally, sales coaching helps to create a behavior change because you’re challenging their beliefs,” said Carole Mahoney, founder of Unbound Growth. “You’re helping them apply the knowledge they’ve learned in training to actually execute in their day-to-day, on-the-job execution.”

Because changing selling behavior can be difficult for reps, having personalized coaching and ongoing support can help sellers gain confidence. Having a constant support system and knowing someone is in their corner can help reps approach change head-on.

Establishing a regular coaching cadence can help reinforce behavior change and ensure that learning isn’t lost. Regular discussion and application of training concepts can help even the most uncertain reps become familiar with new techniques.

Facilitate Ongoing Practice to Drive Behavior Change

Learning and reinforcement of new selling behaviors can take some time. As an enablement team, don’t be afraid to slow down to speed up. Provide as much practice as possible for reps to develop new skills and behaviors in a fail-safe environment.

At the end of training, drive home the message by putting it in the context of what sellers are doing in their customer conversations. Making training relevant can increase rep engagement, which can drive behavior change. For example, encouraging peer-to-peer best practice sharing can help reps put the training into the context of their day-to-day so they can better understand how to apply it. Examples of what ‘good’ looks like can drive knowledge retention and reinforce behavior change.

“People want to hear from people that have achieved quota multiple years in a row, who have been in the seat the longest, people who – if there’s a new product or strategy that’s in play – are the front runners getting results the quickest,” said Cameron Tanner, senior director of global sales enablement at Cisco.

Intentional and ongoing development can help reps reach their full potential, and enablement can be a critical force in helping sellers translate their learning into action. By providing practice and support, enablement can help sellers implement behavior change so that they can perform at their best.

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