Interviews with more than 6,000 sales professionals revealed that 85% of the dollars companies spend on customer service and sales training is wasted. We know the goal of training is to educate and change behaviors, but you don’t change habits over night. Sales and customer service professionals have to practice new behaviors for at least a month before they become part of their professional DNA. The key to lasting behavior change is follow up. Without it, employee behaviors regress back soon after the training event.
Our research shows that a six to eight-week follow-up action plan is the most effective way to iron in the new attitudes, habits and skills that were learned during training. During the follow up sales and customer service professionals should be working side-by-side with their managers to ensure that the performance of the team continues to improve long after the training program is over. Here are six best practices for effective follow up:
- Communicate expectations: Sales and customer service professionals need to know what is expected of them. This means that expectations have to be communicated often in different forms (e.g., emails, in meetings, memos, postings, etc.)
- Inspect what we expect: Sales and customer service professionals need to be observed using the new skills and behaviors with live customers.
- Offer realistic feedback: Sales and customer service professionals need to hear real feedback including positive reinforcement (to keep them doing the right behaviors) and constructive feedback (to remind them to do the right behaviors).
- Skill ransfer sessions: Managers and coaches need to continue to teach and refine the skills and behaviors learned during training. These skill transfer sessions can be 1-on-1 and/or in a group.
- Acknowledge and reward: New behaviors stick best when they are acknowledged and rewarded.
- Hold reinforcement training: Typically conducted 90-120 days after the initial training.
By following up sales and customer service training with these six best practices, you will make sure that your training dollars are not wasted. In fact, implementing an effective follow-up program is your best guarantee to getting a great return on your investment on sales and customer service training.