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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Improve Sales Performance with In-Field Training

Generally when most people think “training” they envision a classroom with an instructor, a workbook, and some Power Point slides. For most jobs, this is not training — it’s classroom education. By the way, there is nothing wrong with classroom education. Just don’t confuse it with actual training.

Training is really a one-on-one activity between a manager and the person he or she is looking to develop, whereas classroom education is a group activity — big difference. Training is best accomplished on the job. In The Knowing-Doing Gap by Jeffrey Pfeifer and Robert Sutton, they point out that the best companies “Embed more of the process of acquiring new knowledge in the actual doing of the task and less in formal training programs.” 

Of course, classroom education is important as well, and professionals like surgeons and pilots engage in it early on. But, if you think about the intern program for physicians and the hours required to become a commercial pilot, the real training soon turns into a learn-by-doing process. I have vivid memories of my first hours in a Piper Cherokee with my flight instructor. I had only completed about half of my ground school at that point.

So, as a manager, how much time do you spend in the field or on the job with your people? And, of that time, how much of that time is doing the job for them instead of coaching them on what they did well (we recommend you ask that question three times when giving feedback) and then asking them what could have gone differently. They will usually know, and you then have the opportunity to help them replace the picture of the wrong behavior with the right behavior. Then, you’re developing people!

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Topics: Sales