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How time flies, and we are now at the end of 2014.


Time to plan what you would want to achieve in 2015.


With the economy slowing, perhaps one of the key things to do in 2015 is to improve the quality of your sales training.  Do note this is NOT to say you increase, for you may need to spend less and achieve more for your sales training and coaching in your company.


Hence, this month's topics:

  1. How to Create a Sales Training Plan that Drives Sales Performance; and

  2. Why Google Doesn’t Care about Hiring Top College Graduates

This issue's main article is on "How to Create a Sales Training Plan that Drives Sales Performance", and we explore how you can spend wisely on your sales training and coaching initiatives, and find reliable ways where you can get better sales results.


In brief:

  • Why and how you need to align your business goals to your sales training;

  • How do you identify the behaviours that need to be improved, and who else needs to be trained or coached;

  • How do you measure and ensure sales training effectiveness in practical ways.   Read on... ...

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Complimentary eBook, A Leader’s guide to Successfully Sell with Insights, – click here

How to Create a Sales Training Plan that Drives Sales Performance


by Dario Priolo
with additional editing from c.j. Ng


Given the expected long-term economic slowdown that is expected in China and many parts of Asia, many companies are pondering if there's still a need to expand the sales force, and if there should be increases in sales training budget.


The fact is, whether you are expanding or reducing the size of your sales team, the only way to get ahead when growth is slower and competition tougher, is to continuously sharpen the selling skills of your sales people.
However, the biggest challenge that many companies faced in implementing sales training is that if the training actually will result in more and better sales results for the sales team.  Will the sales people use the skills learnt in the sales training and win more sales as a result?  Or worse, will the sales training be relevant enough to the sales people that they provide the right skills to deal with real world challenges?


Before we even look into the sales training itself, perhaps it may be wise to first look at the bigger picture

Organizational Strategy and Goals

Start by thinking about the big picture:  What is your business trying to accomplish?  How has that changed in the last year?  A SWOT analysis can help you start to narrow your focus on what you need to do differently.

Now, based on organizational goals, what sales training is necessary to support these objectives?  Your training should help you build on strengths, fortify weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate threats.  For example, a common threat is changing buyer behavior.  Functional buyers now have more authority over technical buyers, which requires a different sales conversation than your sales people have had in the past.  Another scenario is the introduction of new products or solutions, which requires sales people to understand not just features, but also to know how to position the product with buyers.

At this high a level of analysis, it’s about tradeoffs: you likely have numerous strategies and goals, but you must prioritize them and address the most important ones.  If you can’t do everything, what will have the greatest impact toward aligning your training strategy with your organization’s goals?

Individual Competencies and Capabilities


Now, take your focus down from the organizational to the individual level.  What do your sales leaders, sales managers, and sales people need to do differently to achieve your objectives and goals?  How significant of a change is that?  The degree of change will dictate the intensity and direction of your developmental efforts.

Before you know what training to tackle, you need to know their capabilities.  Assess your sales people’s strengths and weaknesses against your selling needs, and then, look for training opportunities to build skills and bridge knowledge gaps.


Don't over rely on surveys and questionnaires to plan for your upcoming sales training.  Many years ago I was tasked to conduct a Sales Negotiations training for a pumps and valves provider in the oil and gas industry.  It turned out that since most of their sales were achieved as a result of bidding and tendering, they don't really conduct sales negotiations in the "traditional" sense.


So why did they hire a trainer to conduct a sales negotiations training for them?  That was due to their HR conducting a survey on what kinds of training do the sales people wanted, and everybody ticked on the box for sales negotiations.  What they actually wanted was how to improve their understanding of the hot buttons that need to be addressed within the RFP (Request For Proposals) by their customers, rather than the act of face-to-face negotiations.  However, since such a training was not presented on a list, they ticked the closest thing that was listed, which was actually worlds apart.

Determine Needs and Sales Training Budget

There are a number of factors and details to include when preparing your formal budgetary request:

  • Scope — Consider all of areas that you will address through training.  It could be some aspect of customer dialogue skills, opportunity or account management, presentation skills, and negotiation skills to name but a few.  Typically, the broader the scope, the more you will need to budget.

  • Scale — Consider the number of people you’ll train, noting the level and breadth across the sales organization.  In addition to sales people, consider training for sales managers and leaders to help drive the change.  Clearly, the more people that will require training, the more you will need to budget.

  • Pre-, mid-, and post-training assessments — To get where you’re going, you need to know where you are.  Assess your team’s current capabilities before, during, and after the training to ensure that it has had the desired effect.

  • Measurement — Just as you need to assess individuals, look for organizational benchmarks to monitor before and after the training.  It could include the number of sales calls, meetings held, sales funnel status, length of sale, size of sale, win/loss, and others.  It could done with a simple but specific action plan that the trainee is accountable for.

  • Communication program Let your sales people know why you’re doing things differently this year and what you expect them to get out of it.  Reinforce the mindset, behaviors, and approach that they should be taking when prospecting and selling as a result of the skills you want them to learn.  Carry on communicating long after the training, and connect it to the big picture.

  • Costs — These include the quantifiable costs of training, including travel and meals, conference rooms or centers, outside facilitators, training materials, equipment rental, and related expenses.  These could also mean the less quantifiable opportunity costs of having your sales people not calling on customers and getting them to participate in training instead.

Justify the Value of the Training

After going through such a rigorous planning exercise, it would not be surprising that your budget request to fulfill next year’s sales skills development training needs could be markedly different than in previous years.  This will likely raise a flag with not only your higher-ups or management but also leaders in HR and Finance.

Be prepared to outline why the approach and investment make sense given the potential benefit.  “If we continue to do ABC, the results will be predictably like last year’s.  But, if we do XYZ, the outcome will more closely align our selling activities to support the goals of the business.”

Be transparent and realistic so that your credibility isn’t questioned, and don’t overlook the need to “sell” the new training approaches (such as the usage of Sales Simulations) to the sales people who will go through it, as well as your superiors who need to approve it.


Need help in getting more and better results from your sales team in 2015? Simply e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.

Power Breakfast Hour:  21 Jan 2015

How to Create a Training and Coaching Plan that Drives Performance

  • Why and how you need to align your business goals to your training objectives and plans;

  • How do you identify the behaviours that need to be improved through training or coaching;

  • How do you measure and ensure training effectiveness in practical ways

VENUE: Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 • 番禺路 400 号 (靠法华镇路)

DATE: Wednesday,  21 Jan 2015


TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.





To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations too


Pls. check out our web sites and for more inspiration.

Tips for Hiring Managers:
Why Google Doesn’t Care about Hiring Top College Graduates


Google has spent years analyzing who succeeds at the company, which has moved away from a focus on GPAs, brand name schools, and interview brain teasers.

In a conversation with The New York Times’ Tom Friedman, Google’s head of people operations, Laszlo Bock, detailed what the company looks for. And increasingly, it’s not about credentials.

Graduates of top schools can lack “intellectual humility”

Megan McArdle argued recently that writers procrastinate “because they got too many A’s in English class.” Successful young graduates have been taught to rely on talent, which makes them unable to fail gracefully.

Google looks for the ability to step back and embrace other people’s ideas when they’re better. “It’s ‘intellectual humility.’ Without humility, you are unable to learn,” Bock says. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure.”

Those people have an unfortunate reaction, Bock says:

“They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius.  If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. … What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view.  But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’”


People that make it without college are often the most exceptional

Talent exists in so many places that hiring managers who rely on a few schools are using it as a crutch and missing out. Bock says:

“When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.”

Many schools don’t deliver on what they promise, Bock says, but generate a ton of debt in return for not learning what’s most useful. It’s an “extended adolescence,” he says.


Learning ability is more important than IQ


Succeeding in academia isn’t always a sign of being able to do a job. Bock has previously said that college can be an “artificial environment” that conditions for one type of thinking. IQ is less valuable than learning on the fly, Bock says:

“For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not IQ. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”

A behavioral interview, in contrast with those that ask people to figure out how many tennis balls fit into a tennis court, might ask how you’ve reacted to a particularly difficult problem in the past. They can also help find people who fit the company’s definition of leadership. It’s not about leading a club at school or an impressive prior title, Bock says, but the ability to step up and lead when it’s necessary.

To find out how you can hire highly capable and engaged employees, you can e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001

Directions Management Consulting


Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia. LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.


In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia.


Using the Belbin Team Role Profiling, Directions Management Consulting helps develop high performance teams and leadership at every level. is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.


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Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as Delphi Packard, InterContinental Hotels Group, Alcoa Wheels, Standard Chartered Bank, Merial, ThyssenKrupp, Lowe's Global Sourcing, Lear, Kulzer Dental etc.


Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.


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