Leadership Counts DURING Training, Too!

As is relatively standard for someone in my line of work, I am sitting on an airplane reflecting on another successful training session. One of the things that I’m thankfully reminded of this week is the positive influence a strong sales leader can be IN the training room.

We oftentimes talk about the importance of front-line sales leadership to a sales training initiative; communicating the benefits of the training initiative ahead of time to the team, both for the organization and for the individual; discussing with the sales professional what he/she should expect, what participants will look to gain personally from the training, and how they will be a positive contributor to the event; and then what can be expected after the training session.

Of course, afterwards, it is important for leaders to provide support and reinforcement to the team after the training, creating an environment in which the sales professional can make mistakes and learn from them without pressure to “do it the old way.”

leaderBut I think the incredible power the sales leader has to positively influence the training DURING the session is often overlooked. This week I had two sales leaders who were, in my mind, the perfect role models during training.  What did they do, you ask?  Well, here are a few things:

  • These leaders modeled engagement! They did not “step out to take an important call” or work in the back of the room on that “fire drill” from their manager. They did not hold mini sales meetings in the back of the room, and they came back from every break right on time. All of this signals that they take the training seriously and that this training is not simply the “flavor of the month.”
  • They did not take over the conversation to prove why they were so successful and therefore promoted in to their leadership role. Instead, these leaders let silence work for me as the facilitator and allowed the sales professionals to think through their responses and work up the courage to step out and provide their thoughts.
  • These leaders did not pontificate on what I had just said and why it was so important. In other words, they did not feel the need to hear their own voices for the sake of hearing their own voices, which meant we stayed right on schedule.
  • They asked questions of me so I could lead the team in a discussion on their desired topic, instead of just saying what they wanted to get across. This made for a discussion instead of a lecture.

If you are a sales leader, and you don’t believe you can have as much impact during a training session, think again. You can set the tone and model the right behaviors in the classroom, empower the facilitator to facilitate, and most importantly, empower the learners to learn!

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