I had a fascinating conversation with my friend Tory Hornsby. We got to talking about the performance of his sales team–they’ve produced great results over the past couple of years. I asked him what his secrets were—we’ll be discussing those in an upcoming podcast, but one struck me as remarkable–and completely counter to what most executives would do.
Tory said, “Every day, we devote the first 45 minutes a day to sales training.”
I had to stop him there, “Did you say every day? Did you say 45 minutes a day?”
In my head, I was doing the math—assume a 9 hour day, assume 90 minutes lost in lunch, breaks and so forth. That leaves 7.5 “productive hours” in the day (we know those aren’t all productive), or 450 minutes–so he is investing 10% of everyone’s time in sales training—every day!
Tory knew what I was thinking, he said, “Yes, it’s a huge impact on time—but it’s the biggest multiplier in sales effectiveness that I’ve found. I literally could not afford to stop doing this. The adverse impact in sales would be unacceptable!”
He had the data to support this, in the past year, his team has grown sales 138% over the prior year. While there are a lot more things Tory has done to drive sales performance, according to him, this is the single biggest impact. Constant training, constant reinforcement, constant learning enable his team to continue to grow and improve their performance.
They have a regular cadence of how they conduct each meeting. Each day is the same, but different.
They’d spent some time figuring out the optimum amount of time. They started with 60 minutes a day, reduced it to 30, finally have settled in on 45 minutes—every day. For everyone, all the sales people, sales managers, and even others participate (though not every day).
The meeting starts with the team celebrating their accomplishments of the previous day–maybe landing some big orders, though those don’t happen every day. They are things like great sales calls/meetings, reaching their goals for the day, something they have learned. It’s followed in scrum-like fashion by each sales person taking about one minute outlining their goals for the day. The sales people set these goals for themselves and measure their attainment of the goals. This takes the first 10-15 minutes.
The remaining 30 minutes is spent training. They rotate the responsibility, Tory may lead the training, one of the sales managers, or any of the sales people. Tory described one of the sales people using the game “Jeopardy,” as a way of training the team on a new product they were launching. Every day, they attack something different. It may be a new sales or marketing program, learning about a new product, building sales skills—yes they do lots of role plays.
An important part of the training is constant reinforcement. Tory says, “We have to reinforce every new thing for 4 weeks until people have internalized what we are trying to get them to learn.” The way it works is they may introduce something new on Monday, on Tuesday, they spend a little more time talking about it. Later in the week, they may spend a few more minutes. The following week they cover it several more times—each time they change things up a little, it may be a presentation, a discussion, role plays. They continue this for 4 weeks. By this time the new skills and capabilities are ingrained in each of the sales people.
They also provide tools to support the sales people. I laughed as Tory described his sales enablement platform–each person has a three ring binder. They keep the latest sales programs, some “cheat sheets,” and notes they take from the daily meetings. They use those constantly through the day.
For training to work, it can’t be just one class or workshop. It has to be constantly reinforced, exercised, developed, and coached until people have internalized whatever it is you are training them on.
I was still astounded by the commitment Tory and his team make to daily training. Tory had all the math done and all the data. He knew how many person hours it took–both in the daily training meetings and in the time people spent preparing. He knew that at a minimum the daily 45 minute meetings “robbed” them of at least 10% of their selling time. As he reviewed the data about time, investment—then results, he concluded, “I can’t afford not to do this! The adverse impact on sales productivity and sales results would be huge!”
Can you afford not to invest in training, reinforcing, and developing the capabilities of your people?