Training sales newbies in a team is a time consuming process. Having been involved in training my sales team members for over 10 years, I can certainly say that it is like an iterative process divided into 2 parts or levels.
LEVEL 1: Theoretical Understanding
- Stage 1: Unawareness. You are completely unaware that there is a skill to be learned. Example, a novice sales rep might be making cold calls without realizing that her accent is making it difficult for customers to understand what she’s saying.
- Stage 2: Awareness. You realize that something isn’t working. Example, that novice rep may notice that her hit rate on the cold-calls is much lower than the other people working in that office. She asks colleagues and her sales manager for suggestions.
- Stage 3: Clarification. You understand what you need to do differently. Example, that novice sales rep signs up for a class that will improve her diction and make it more understandable to the target customer base.
LEVEL 2: Practice Until Mastery
- Stage 4: Awkwardness. You attempt the new behavior and find it difficult. Example, the novice attempts to apply the skills learned in the class and speak without the debilitating accent. She finds it’s hard and exhausting to hold a conversation without slipping into her old accent.
- Stage 5: Familiarity. The new behavior is easier but still not automatic. Example, the novice finds that she can now hold a conversation in the new accent without fumbling or falling into the old accent. Practicing the new skill is no longer a burden.
- Stage 6: Mastery. You no longer think about the behavior but simply do it. Example, the novice now finds that talking in the new accent seems as natural than the old accent. Her brain has been reprogrammed so that the new behavior no longer needs monitoring or specific practice sessions. It’s now like “riding a bike” – a lifelong skill that you’ll never forget.