Tag Archive: Sales training

Why Simulation-Based Instruction is the Best Way to Learn!

sitrain_teams_playing_wide_sts

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) asks the Chief Executive Officer (CEO): “What if we spend time and money training our employees and they leave the company?”

The CEO responds: “What if we don’t and they stay?”

Taking time and resources to train your personnel is often looked at as a necessary evil. Training employees takes them away from their day-to-day tasks and the cost will be reflected on the bottom line. Adding to the challenge of supporting training, is the uncertainty of the return-on-investment at both an individual and organizational productivity level.

As an executive who is considering training your team, the most important question you should ask is not: Should I train my team? but rather: What method of training should I use? Different training methods result in varying levels of content retention. Of course you want to ensure that your organization achieves the greatest value from training, so relevant content as well as deploying the use of experiential learning techniques should both be priorities.

learning-_pyramid

As the image to the left illustrates, participatory learning, especially using simulation for practice, provides the highest level of retention for training, second only to “teaching others.”

What is simulation-based learning? It is an instructor-guided, interactive learning environment that replicates an actual business, technical, or educational challenge. It permits the learners to practice resolving issues in a relatively worry-free atmosphere. Not only is it authentic and relevant to the learners’ work, but it provides a safe environment to learn; mistakes won’t result in costly repercussions. It’s ideal to spur on innovation, too, because it allows for creative problem solving.

Simulation-based learning is the most effective technique for developing every professionals’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whilst protecting the organization from unnecessary risks. It is useful in resolving practical dilemmas, and provides four real-time benefits.

  1. EXPERIENTIAL & REPETITIVE LEARNING. While in traditional lecture-based training, the desired outcome is merely explained; in simulation learning, individuals achieve an outcome from first-hand experience. Adults, like most people, learn better through experience. In the simulation, individuals have the opportunity for repetitive practice, which helps increases retention.
  2. KNOWLEDGE INTEGRATION. A key facet of any learning is that understanding is increased when it is linked to some already known piece of knowledge. Simulation-based learning, because of its participatory nature, has the added benefit of being able to psychologically link concepts and allow participants to link knowledge areas through their actions.
  3. RISK-FREE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. Regardless of our attitude, learning research validates that we learn by making mistakes. In fact, they are invaluable to the participant. If executive decision makers can participate in relevant and realistic simulations, they can safely make mistakes, learn from them, and promptly apply their learned knowledge to their real work challenges, avoiding costly mistakes or unintended consequences.
  4. ABILITY TO ADJUST THE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY. The technology provided in most simulation-based learning tools are designed to allow the difficulty level to increase as the competency of the individuals and teams improve. This provides additional flexibility and continual learning opportunities for a varied level of experienced personnel.

Simulation-based learning is the most effective learning technique for both your employees and your organization. Your training dollars are better invested with simulation training because of higher learning retention. Further, because your team will practice with relevant and practical scenarios, the potential for catastrophic mistakes is mitigated.

If you’re looking for a relevant, engaging interactive learning environment with simulation, call Merit and ask about our SimulTrain® project management training experience. Contact Jim Wynne at  jwynne@meritcd.com or call him at 610-225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/why-simulation-based-instruction-is-the-best-way-to-learn/

Why Success is More Likely with Active Listening

Listening includes a lot more than just hearing words. Frequently, we need to interpret or infer a deeper or underlying message beyond the spoken word. We deploy many of our senses to detect non-verbal cues and assimilate our life experiences with the verbal message when we actively listen.

Usually, the objective of a conversation is to expand the listener’s knowledge, perspective or sensitivity to a topic that impacts behavior or beliefs. In the workplace, managing projects can implode due to poor communications. These can result in missing a critical deadline, budget overages, decreased sales, and in some cases, costly lawsuits.

The most effective communication takes place when both parties are actively listening. So what is “active listening” and how do we do this?

Your active listening is apparent to the other party through your audible or visible signals. This can include something as subtle as raising our eyebrows, leaning towards the speaker, or using certain gestures (like a thumbs up, high five, etc.) Tilting our heads when we listen, on the same angle as the speaker, generally reflects a subconscious agreement  Uttering sounds like “uh huh” or “hmm” also tell the speaker that you’re paying attention. In America, making eye contact is considered a must in showing that you are listening, although this does vary in some cultures.

Of course asking good questions is one of the best ways to demonstrate that you are listening.
If you don’t have any questions (perhaps, because the message is crystal clear to you) then paraphrase the speaker’s message. You can preface your restated summary by saying something like: “Ok, now, if I understand what you’re telling me, you’d like to … (paraphrased summary of speaker’s objective).”

It is important to be authentic, too! In your effort to make it evident that you genuinely hear the speaker’s message, do not diminish your own persona or credibility. Be sure to phrase your introduction to your rephrased statement in a style that is consistent with the way you speak.

Why not find out if you’re as good a listener as you think you are? If you haven’t taken this insightful (and free) listening assessment yet, you can right now – or later when you have about 45 minutes and no distractions. When you’re ready, take the Active Listening Assessment here. Upon completion, you will receive an explanatory report along with tips and techniques that you can use to become a better active listener and communicator.

If you or your staff would benefit from mastering effective communications, improving active listening and learning “meaning-centered communication”, we can help. Please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com or call him at 610-225-0449.

NOTE: PMPs: This assessment qualifies for one PDU and you will receive a certificate.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/why-success-is-more-likely-with-active-listening/

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): The Essential Secret to Great Performance

The concept of emotional intelligence, EQ, has been studied for over 30 years. Research shows that high EQ predicts success beyond an individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities. Emotionally intelligent leaders have significantly greater annual profit growth, increased customer satisfaction, and higher personnel retention. In management, the more senior the leader, the more the EQ matters. In sales and customer service capacities, the higher EQs correlate directly to success.

RedheadStudies show that lack of EQ may limit a person’s ability to achieve results. Lower EQ scores correlate with lower merit pay increases, lower job satisfaction and more burnout. Managers’ and supervisors’ EQ scores correlate with their performance ratings.

The definition of emotional intelligence has been the subject of ongoing debates; however, researchers all agree that it consists of two principal components. The first component; intrapersonal skills or self-awareness, is the ability to recognize one’s emotions as they occur, helping one gain self-control in potentially emotionally charged situations.

The second component, interpersonal skills or social awareness, is the ability to recognize others’ emotions. The ability to express empathy enables one to have more positive relationships and minimize unproductive conflict. EQ helps put people at ease, build and mend relationships, confront problem employees, and manage change.

It is important to note that emotional intelligence can be learned. Understanding and incorporating specific EQ skills, techniques, and behaviors can help improve both the intrapersonal and interpersonal skill sets. An intra-personal skill, self-monitoring, can help one can limit or minimize emotional hijacking. Let‘s look at this closer…

Emotional IntelligenceWe all have specific words or phrases that are steeped in emotion. During the 1960s and 70s, the term “nuclear power” raised a great deal of emotion—both positive and negative. Similarly today we have emotionally charged words or phrases such as “gun control”, terrorism, and consumer privacy. It is important to recognize one’s own emotionally charged phrases and stop the emotional hijacking that is about to take place.

By recognizing our emotional responses when we hear a cue by self-monitoring, we can prevent emotional hijacking before it takes place. Stopping to recognize the emotional trigger is an important first step. Taking a deep breath, and/or silently counting to 10 can help us regain composure and react in a rational manner.

As for interpersonal skills, empathy helps us develop more positive relationships with others at work. Increasing our display of empathy enables us to connect with another person on an emotional level, thus allowing us to develop a meaningful, trusting relationship.

The question remains, however, how much emotional intelligence do you have—what is your baseline? Do you have an EQ deficiency, or are you well above average? There is only one way to know your EQ baseline and that is to take an assessment. Many exist on the Internet, some free others fee-based, however they may not stand up to statistical reliability and validity standards.

We invite you to take our free online self-assessment http://www.meritcd.com/assessments/eq/ and see how you compare to others; it takes less than 15 minutes. You will receive a report comparing you to the general population and you will know your starting point. With your baseline in hand you can select appropriate techniques and build your self-awareness and social awareness skill sets, and improve your emotional intelligence.

Would you like some guidance to improve your staff’s EQ? Merit offers half-day and full day workshops that help participants understand, identify their baseline, and strengthen their emotional intelligence. With exercises and interactive assessment tools, this workshop is engaging and life changing. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com or call him at 610-225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/emotional-intelligence-eq-the-essential-secret-to-great-performance/

Utilize 4 Steps to Maximize Training ROI

When aiming to optimize ROI efforts in training, companies should not overlook the benefits of instructor-led training and professional development courses.Most companies invest in training and development of staff for improved success, regardless of the industry. However, instructor-led training in the workplace costs both time and money, and managers run the risk of wasting valuable resources if they do not see significant returns on their investments in training.

CSO Insights (Chief Sales Officer Insights), a market research firm, conducted a performance optimization study that sought to measure investments in training, focusing on the pitfalls that can interfere with success. The study concluded that there are processes in place at many organizations that can have a negative impact on training ROI.

Random process. When companies use an unorganized approach to conducting business, it can certainly impact the value of training. Rather than adhering to company standards and processes, individuals often end up following their own protocols for completing assignments or marketing products, instead of what they learned in class.

Informal process. Even in businesses that invest in training programs, actual learning retention can hit significant snags following completion of the courses if there is no formal process for monitoring results. Although the skills taught in these classes can be beneficial, lack of monitoring or measurement by managers leaves them unable to ascertain if the learning has been retained and is being used on the job.

Formal process. Some companies do have their own training protocols to reinforce skills for use in real-life scenarios in the workplace. In these organizations, specific managers perform periodic reviews to determine the efficacy of the information learned and then make changes to training based on their analysis. While an improvement on the previous two processes—Random and Informal—it is not necessarily a systemic or dynamic approach.

Dynamic process. Organizations that reap the most benefit from training provide continuous feedback to employees to ensure that useful skills are being applied. They also keep an eye on changes in the marketplace or business and adapt systems as necessary.

Following the teachings of Donald Kirkpatrick ensures that businesses are more likely to get “bang for the buck” from their training expenditures.

Following the 4 Levels of Evaluation

As the former president of the American Society for Training and Development, Kirkpatrick had extensive experience developing standards that optimized training programs. In 1959, he published his first works on effective professional education in Training and Development Journal, called the “Four-Level Training Evaluation Model.” Since its initial release, Kirkpatrick’s four levels have been updated twice, once in 1975 and once in 1994 when he published one of his most well-regarded pieces, “Evaluating Training Programs.” Since then, his works have guided effective training exercises in the corporate environment. Kirkpatrick’s lessons involve four essential levels of evaluation:

Level 1: Reaction Determine participants’ thoughts and feelings about the program to capture overall satisfaction with the experience.

Level 2: Learning Gauge the increase of knowledge and skills as a result of the course.

Level 3: Behavior Measure the retention of information and its application in the work environment.

Level 4: Results Assess changes and how beneficial the improvements have been to the organization.

With today’s fast-paced and changing economy, the old guard methods of learning and development have become obsolete. Level 1 feedback forms are helpful but insufficient to conclude that the training has been effective. The real ROI is what happens when employees are back on the job – three months, six months and a year down the line. Learning, behavior and retention must be evaluated at subsequent post training intervals.

Achieving multi-million dollar success

Several years ago, a world renowned international technology company hired Merit Career Development to improve the skills of its sales force. Merit’s powerful training techniques and tools enabled the employees to close several deals worth millions of dollars within six months of completing the course. The financial impact was significant as they earned substantial profits for the company. The program is now used around world for hundreds of participants per year.

With its fully customizable courses that can be tailor-made to fit any business, Merit ensures that its clients receive the highest possible ROI on all its professional training programs. To learn more, review Merit’s course list or contact Merit today.


© 2014 Merit Career Development. All rights reserved. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@MeritCD.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/utilize-4-steps-to-maximize-training-roi/

Optimizing ROI in Sales Force Training Programs

Sales presentationA CFO, nervous about the cost of sales training, argues with the CEO. “What if we pay for all this training and these employees leave?” the CFO asks. The CEO replies, “What if we don’t pay for the training and they stay?”

Although the story from Peter Baeklund illustrates an old business witticism, when it comes to optimizing sales performance, effective training with significant return on investment is the key to success. For the company to see true ROI, the tools and skills learned in the classroom need to be transferred into the work environment where employees can use them to make the sales.

Taking the right steps

Donald Kirkpatrick, former president of the American Society for Training and Development, first published his Four-Level Training Evaluation Model in the Training and Development Journal in 1959. It was subsequently updated twice, once in 1975 and again in 1994 when he published one of his most well-known pieces, “Evaluating Training Programs.” Since then, his works have guided effective training exercises in the corporate environment. Kirkpatrick’s lessons involve four essential levels of evaluations:

  • Reaction: capturing participants’ satisfaction with the experience immediately following training, gauging initial thoughts and feelings about the program
  • Learning: Measuring the increase in knowledge of skills as a result of training
  • Behavior: Assessing retention and whether participants can apply what they have learned in the workplace
  • Results: Addressing changes in performance and how the improvements have benefited the organization.

With today’s fast-paced and changing economy, the old guard methods of learning and development have become obsolete. Feedback forms don’t tell us if the training has been effectively retained. The real ROI is what happens when employees are back on the job – three months, six months and a year down the line. Learning, behavior and retention must be measured by then.

The sales force is integral to a company’s success and requires extensive training to adequately market its products and services. Sales employees must have a variety of selling techniques under their belts. For example, selling to a CFO or other C-level executive requires a significantly different approach than selling to an entry-level purchaser.

Current training modules need to reflect these differences. The challenge is helping sales professionals communicate clearly and effectively with high-level executives, cutting out technical jargon that can get in the way and listening to the client’s needs. More advanced and updated forms of training are needed to bolster the performance of the sales team, which in turn could result in an improved bottom line.

Achieving multi-million dollar success

A world renowned international technology company hired Merit Career Development to improve the skills of its sales force. Merit’s powerful training techniques and tools enabled the employees to close a deal worth millions of dollars in transactions within six months of completing the course. The financial impact was huge as they earned a substantial amount of profits for the company.

Much of the training entailed developing pitches and proposals targeted to high-level executives without the need for convoluted vocabularies. Simplifying the language allows a pitch to appeal to multiple audiences and makes the information accessible to a large range of potential buyers. The program is now used around the world for hundreds of participants per year.

With its fully customizable courses that can be tailor-made to fit any business, Merit ensures that their clients receive the highest possible ROI on sales programs. To learn more, review Merit’s course list or contact Merit today.


© 2014 Merit Career Development. All rights reserved. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@MeritCD.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/optimizing-roi-in-sales-force-training-programs/