‘On the Spot’ Effectiveness that Translates Strategies into Business Results
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Member: American Society of Training & Development
An Espoir Worldwide Initiative
Espoir was founded in 2005 by a team of industry professionals working with leading global companies specializing in Technology, Engineering, Human Resources, Finance, Arts and Management .
We create innovative, cutting-edge skill-building programs that help people learn automatically, and also bring them out of their “Unconscious Incompetence”. We develop new methodologies & technologies for this.
We are passionate about what we do. We are happy with our creations because our users are satisfied with what they achieve in real life situations as a result of trusting our products and programs.
We don’t advertise. We believe, if you are really in need, you would search and find us. We also believe, ultimately, you are responsible for your future. We can sincerely help. Let us meet on ‘Let’s Meet’ page.
“We're scheduling a training workshop for our sales executives. What would you charge to deliver a two-day training session?” On the phone is Kurt Dawson, the head of global sales for a company that makes industrial equipment.
(Whoa, I'm thinking. Hold your horses. I know I have to pull hard on the reins or this one will go places that don't make sense for this company or for me).
“Let's talk,” I tell Dawson. “I can come by next week.”
“Sometimes training isn't the best place to start,” I add. “In my experience, there are times it's the very last thing you want to do.” I can tell he doesn't like my response. He wants sales training. But is that what he needs?
Five days later I am sitting in Kurt Dawson's office, sipping burnt coffee from a 20-year-old coffee maker. He describes his company, products, and salesforce in glowing terms.
“We're the market leader. We have the highest quality in the business. Our salespeople are highly desired commodities—our competitors are always trying to steal them.”
It sounds too good to be true.
I start with the first Why. I lean forward in my chair and ask, “Why do you want to do sales training?”
“Well, it's because we need to continually improve the skills of our salespeople.”
I follow with the second Why. I ask him, “Why do you need to improve your salespeople's skills. It sounds like they are the envy of the industry!”
“I believe that if we improve their skills, they will be more effective at new client acquisition.”
I go on to the third Why. “Why do you need to increase your new client acquisition efforts?”
He looks at me like I am asking why he needs to breathe air to stay alive.
“Our existing client base cannot support the growth targets our CEO has set for us. We need to bring in more new clients.”
(Now we are getting closer).
I give Kurt my fourth Why. “And why can't you grow your existing clients fast enough?”
There is an awkward silence. He hems and haws for an eternity. I wait. I say nothing. (Never, ever interrupt a productive silence!).
“Well, it's the attrition. We are losing 20 percent of our existing clients each year.”
I can almost hear a subwoofer pumping out that low, rumbling, dissonant chord that always accompanies the most frightening scene in every horror movie. It signals that something very bad is about to happen. Glenn Close is about to leap out of the bathtub at Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction.
“Twenty percent.” I repeat the statistic casually, with no judgment in my voice.
Finally, the fifth Why. “I just have to ask—why are you losing 20 percent of your clients each year?”
“We're being undercut by several competitors who are lowering their prices just to buy the business.
But it's not sustainable. They cannot support such low prices for very long.”
“And how do you know that?” I decide to press him even further.
“We survey our salespeople. And, I've heard this from a few clients as well.”
(Finally, I've gone deep enough).
I tell my client that until we develop a better understanding of their attrition, their competition, and their clients’ perspectives on their products and pricing, it makes no sense to put on a training program.
I persuade him to set aside the training program idea for now. Instead, I am engaged to conduct an intensive examination of their operations.
I interview the sales force, as well as some clients they've lost. The real problem quickly emerges. Dawson's company is only rarely getting undercut on price. Instead, there are significant quality and delivery issues with their products.
I confirm my original thinking. I tell my client that if they don't solve the quality and delivery issues first, the best training in the world will be a waste of time.
Because of the five Whys I have asked my client, the project we define together is much broader—and has far more impact—than a training program. I help Kurt lead a substantial effort to overhaul his company's operations, from production through sales. A client to this very day.
(Adapted from the book “Power Questions” by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas.)
The Why Why Analysis is a great simple technique for involving a team in getting to the Root Causes of a problem, issue or opportunity.
The technique can be used at any time a team or individual is trying to get below the surface of symptoms that appear to have lots of causes all interacting at the same time.
The technique uses the Tree Diagram as its main presentation tool and utilises other techniques such as Brainstorming to bring out ideas from the team.
Simple to use and easy to set up the technique can be really valuable when starting out on root cause identification.
If you are passionate about grooming others to achieve success, let us work together and succeed. We offer the opportunity to work with a brand that commands Leadership & Trust. And, to use World-class Tools, Technologies & Products!
One of my professional friends narrated the following incident, he said it really happened in Bangalore.
A swimming training was in session. A group of teenagers were in the pool and the young trainer in swim suite, oozing with confidence, was guiding them from the shore. He demonstrated how it is easy to swim - throwing his hands forward, flapping his feet and flexing his body so that the trainees swim naturally like a fish. When he began motivating the trainees saying how an invalid girl swam the ice-cold English channel, one of the inspired boys could not control the excitement, he moved swiftly to fall into the deeper side of the pool. To everyone’s surprise, the trainer had to yell for outside help! The trainer could not swim!
I’m not sure about the degree to which the above story is correct. However, I’m sure this story symbolizes the state of soft-skill training industry today. Most of the trainers who conduct “Interview Training” never been successful in a professional job interview. Sadly, most “innovation” trainers have neither innovated anything nor been part of any planned innovation efforts.
It takes a lamp to light another. It needs passion and conviction to stay alight. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the trainers and training content before we venture into committing our employees’ time and company’s resources into a training activity.
Successful companies derive their training requirements from their strategic action plans. Therefore at ChiefMentor, we treat training as an extension of your corporate strategy. Like investment in land, machinery or a patent, it is a strategic investment.
We always ask: How do training and mentoring contribute to the achievement of your action plans? Do the competencies needed to achieve the strategic plan are addressed in the training plan?
Do all training and mentoring activities are directly linked to one or more key business drivers or long-term business goals?
How do you conduct a systematic needs analysis to identify the knowledge and skills needed by employees to function in the work systems and organization structures used in the company? How do you consider the audience characteristics as part of the criteria when deciding on training delivery methods?
How do you evaluate the effectiveness of training and mentoring, taking into account performance, such as customer satisfaction, financial results, productivity, or product/service quality?
How do you reinforce the use of knowledge and skills on the job? Are supervisors and managers entrusted to provide on-the-job reinforcement of employees’ use of newly learned tools and concepts?
Training is so important, and also so expensive. We realize only few really link their education and training to the key success factors of the company. With ChiefMentor, you experience the difference.
(Mr. Suresh Namboothiri has mentored over 4000 people over twenty years. He founded/co-founded four companies. Before venturing into entrepreneurship, he was Deputy General Manager - Design at BPL-Sanyo (Now Panasonic) , and Chief Operating Officer at TATA AutoComp Systems Limited.)
Mentor for the Indian Edition:
Mr. Suresh Namboothiri, M.Tech, MBA
"When all think alike, then no one is thinking." — Walter Lippman