Richard Branson was once asked why the Virgin group spend such a lot of time and investment in training. Richard’s answer tells us a lot about how and why he’s been successful.
He said, ‘People ask me “What if we spend all this money training our people and then they leave?”
‘My response to that is, “What if we don’t invest in our people, and they stay?”’
Branson’s comments go to show how seriously he takes the learning and development of his staff, and it’s a good message for us to follow.
With see with many companies who are going through rough patches that the first cut back is in people development. They stop coaching, training and mentoring as it’s ‘all hands to the pump’ and keeping the company afloat is the most important operational goal in the short-term.
We recognise this and it’s an understandable behaviour. However, when things get back on track again (and they inevitably do) what has happened to your people’s skillsets? How primed are they to deal with the next pressure on business that comes along?
I’m not suggesting that when everything is going pear-shaped that you still send all your salespeople to seminars and training courses ad-nauseum. That wouldn’t be practical or sensible. However, there still has to be an element of development happening within the team, or they will get complacent and won’t keep themselves up-to-speed with new developments within sales.
You need to plan your salespeople’s growth over a period of time, rather than thinking, “we’d better send her on a course, because she hasn’t been on one for three years”.
What happens to a salesperson who hasn’t seen growth and development over a long-term period?
Here are some of the results:
- They lack the will-power to take responsibility for their own growth
- They miss out on new concepts and ideas that could take their sales higher
- They become homeostatic in their mind-set, thinking they are performing at their top level
- They plateau in their performance levels because they see their current levels as the best they can perform at
- They are not exposed to new ideas and concepts being brought into the industry regularly
- They miss opportunities to improve in front of customers because they are repeating old concepts learned previously
- They start to see their development as something that is done to them, instead of thinking of it as their own responsibility
- They see the culture of their organisation as short-term fixes, instead of long-term development
Branson also commented on how he sees the culture of Virgin as being vital in developing the attitude of his management and staff.
He says “Train your people so well that they can leave; treat them so well that they don’t want to”
How you treat your sales team can speak volumes about how you really feel about them. Although many company’s mantra is ‘people are our greatest asset’, their philosophies are shown up by their lack of training opportunities offered to their salespeople.
Have you noticed if your company has cut back in its growth and development plans for your salespeople? If you have, ask if you’ve also noticed the issues in the points above being raised in your company.
By placing your team’s development high on the list of priorities, you send an overt and covert message to them that that you have their interests and the company’s in mind.