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Dennis Collins: Hi, it’s Dennis again. Welcome to Connect and Convert: insider strategies for small business sales success. Today’s topic is how to get the most from your sales training events. Yes, that is a big concern, I know. But first, before we get started, I have some great news. I would like to introduce someone to you today.

Her name is Leah Bumphrey. Leah is an esteemed colleague. She’s a fellow Wizard of Ads partner. She’s a brilliant sales brain and an inspiring writer. And luckily for me, because I need all the help I can get. My partner on this podcast, there are a lot of things I could tell you about Leah that I like about Leah, but I’m going to tell you what I value about Leah: her perspective.

We have a lot in common about how to practice sales, how to teach sales, and how to think about sales, but there’s one area we have that’s different. We have different perspectives, and I think that’s going to I know it’s going to be a value for me, and I think it’s going to be a great value for you. That’s going to be both challenging and interesting. So, Leah, please introduce yourself to our audience.

Leah Bumphrey: Absolutely. So I didn’t even have to interrupt you. I have to say Dennis you made me blush a little bit. I think you and I have. Similar backgrounds. We both worked in radio and loved radio for a long time. You are in the warmth of the southern states and here I am up in Canada.

A little bit different market, a smaller city, but local radio just rocks up here. I’m a mom. I like to call them my beautiful boys, but they’re all much taller than me now. So we’ll call them the Bumphrey men. And they love all things creative, all of them in their own way. I’m also a big sister and I think the combination of being a mom and a big sister and having a background in all things creative and training makes me just love this opportunity to work with you.

So away we go. I think we’re going to have fun.

Dennis Collins: I know we are. And I thank you for taking the time and effort to be with us. I really appreciate it. Let’s jump into today’s topic. There’s a sad truth. Most sales training dollars are wasted. How do I know this? Cause I did it. I wasted them when I was spending training dollars, but the triple cost: wasted time — taking training, wasted dollars — money doing the training, and the worst of all, there’s no improvement in sales — it doesn’t get better.

Does it have to be that way? Well, I don’t think so. I don’t think it has to be that way. So today, Leah and I want to discuss some methods to make sales training more effective. Back in the old days. Yeah, I remember those old days, I was part of them. Sales training was a one-and-done.

But science has shown that this approach is just not effective in driving long-term behavior change improving sales performance and building skills. So we used to do the seminars, the videos, the tape. I had cassette tapes. I had VHS videos. I had it all. Workshops… And the theory was, “Well, give me four hours and that’s it.”

Leah Bumphrey: And, you know, it’s fascinating to me because there is good training out there, Dennis. We’ve all participated in training that we walked away from feeling like, “Okay, I can run with this. This is fantastic.” Wizard Academy comes to mind for me. That’s the first time. I was down there a couple of decades ago, but it started back when Roy used to travel. And we brought him up here to Canada to meet with our sales teams, to meet with our prospects and our current clients to talk about business and how to make a business grow.

And isn’t that why any one of us wants to be doing training? Roy doesn’t do that anymore except at Wizard Academy. And when I went there, man, I was just inspired to keep going. I’ve even had one of my sons go and he was so inspired. He’s gone a couple of times. It’s all about, what are you trying to get out of the training.

And I always encourage my clients, or people that I’m talking to from whatever walk of business they’re in, check out the courses. There are some fantastic ones

Dennis Collins: I couldn’t agree more. You made me think as you were speaking about the very first time I went to Wizard Academy. I had been a follower of Roy Williams. I met him a couple of times in travels and I was just enthralled and then I heard Wizard Academy, “Oh, that’s connected.”

Roy’s the Wizard of Ads, so I guess that’s connected to Roy. So, I gave it a shot. It was in Buda, Texas at that time, not at the beautiful campus we have now. Michele Miller was my first instructor, and she led us through a course in marketing to women. Transformational. It changed the way I thought about marketing to women, and women were important to my radio stations.

I’ve been going now for two decades. Can’t stay away. Every course is different. It’s not what you expect. It’s the unexpected. But it’s transformational. It gets you in here. It touches you.

Leah Bumphrey: You’ve managed to go every year since that first time.

Dennis Collins: I haven’t missed. Yeah, I actually served proudly and was honored to serve on the board of Wizard Academy for a period of time. But every time since I first started, I’ve been there at least one course every year.

It’s a transformational moment, getting away from the day-to-day and transforming. So I highly recommend it to all of our listeners, if you haven’t had the Wizard Academy experience. It’s time. Go on. I’m sorry.

Leah Bumphrey: Absolutely. I even took my husband because he was wondering what the heck is this Wizard thing. And don’t let the name put you off. It is a serious tool for serious business.

Dennis Collins: And you will walk away with some serious ideas that you put into effect immediately. Okay, let’s jump into our topic. What’s the new approach to sales training? Well, thankfully, sales training has evolved and become more effective. Why? Because we’re now focusing on continuous learning and enforcement. Imagine that.

Science is very clear on this. We forget 90 percent of what we learn within seven days. We actually forget 50 percent of what we learn in 24 hours unless there’s an intervention. Intervention is continuous learning reinforcement with spaced repetition. So instead of one-time events, companies are now going through training programs that provide regular opportunities for salespeople to develop skills. And knowledge is great, but knowledge without action is useless.

The next topic we want to talk is how do you implement these sales training methods in small businesses? First step, I would ask you to evaluate what you’re doing right now. What are the strengths and weaknesses? Encourage a culture of continuous learning. I know when I was managing radio stations, we made it a core value that we would be continuous learners. I supported a lot of that with my continuous training and exposure to new ideas. But that also is something that the individual has to adopt, and my folks loved it. That will help to reinforce the learning. It provides guidance. It’s no good to learn new skills. It’s only good if we apply them.

How about role-playing and real world scenarios? Yeah, we’ve been doing that stuff for decades, but it’s a new way of doing scenarios. Real-world scenarios based on real customer issues. For instance, reporting sales calls. I work with a client where we do record sales calls. And those calls are invaluable when it comes to training. How about utilizing tools for virtual training and practice scenarios again online courses webinars? There’s so much you can get online today. Some of it is for free.

Measure and track progress. I would say the biggest fight that I have with prospective clients and current clients, for gosh sake, track the results. Sales are outcomes. Revenue is an outcome. The activities that lead up to sales, that lead up to revenue, are the activities that we need to track. Some people call it KPIs, whatever you want to call them. Track your progress towards the revenue and those activity goals.

And most important, particularly if you’re a sales leader, provide support. Let people know that you support their growth. Their journey. That you support their learning. You can do that by offering coaching. By offering support. By offering videos. By joining an online community where people can share experiences with each other.

The next step. How do you find out what the new technique looks like? There are a couple of steps. First of all, examine your current training to identify what’s going well, and what’s not going well. Secondly, keep yourself updated on the latest trends. There are all kinds of forums available for your industry, for any industry.

There are conferences, there are workshops, there are webinars, there are books, publications. Any number of ways to stay informed about what’s new.

Leah Bumphrey: And you know what Dennis, you said a very key thing. Your industry and other industries. There’s too much information. Roy talks about this. When you have a problem, look at another industry and see what solution they have for an issue and how you can bring it over.

It’s no different when it comes to training. What is what are others doing and how can that help you?

Dennis Collins: I’m glad you mentioned that. It reminds me of something. Back in the dark ages actually before the advent of computers one of the key problems a radio station had was managing its inventor. With the inventory being the number of spots available for sale.

And that determines your revenue. Obviously, what price do you sell that inventory and how? My business manager and I went to the hotel industry and airline industry to figure out how to manage inventory. They had a great way of doing it. As you get closer to the flight taking off, the seats become less available and the price goes up.

The same in a hotel. If I try to book a hotel in your city today, I’ll bet you I’m going to pay more if I have to have it today than I will if I have to have it in January. So we create it by looking at other businesses. We created a system long before computers were out there long before we had the computer support that worked quite well for us.

So, that’s a great point. Look around. How about networking? I love networking, connecting, you know, there’s a lot of science also behind this, that the more we connect with people, the bigger our social brain network, the healthier we will be, the more productive we’ll be. I’ll do a podcast on that one day.

Leah Bumphrey: The reason why we always want to be able to say that I know a guy or if I’m your neighbor, Dennis, and I’m having trouble with my plumbing, I’m going to say, Dennis, do you know a guy? Because I don’t have a guy.

Dennis Collins: Would you trust me?

Leah Bumphrey: Absolutely.

Dennis Collins: You’d be in trouble.

Leah Bumphrey: I’m not asking you to come fix my plumbing.

Dennis Collins: That would not be a good thing. It might end up costing you a lot more money to fix what I screwed up.

Consider consulting with sales training experts or hiring sales consultants. That’s what Leah and I do. I’m not blowing our horn, but yeah, I’m blowing our horn. We would love to have a conversation with you. No strings attached to just do an assessment of what you’re doing, what’s working, what’s not working.

And then last but not least, experiment. You know, someone framed this for me once, and I’ve never forgotten this. We all get hung up on failure. What’s failure? Okay, well we tried something and it didn’t work. That’s failure. No. That’s an experiment. If you were in chemistry class in high school and you were supposed to concoct some kind of concoction that didn’t work, that was called an experiment.

That wasn’t called a failure, was it? So why don’t we look at those things that we do that don’t work as an experiment?

Leah Bumphrey: How was constantly evolving back when I started in sales? I’m sure it’s similar to yourself. Dennis. They were actually designated. Most companies had designated training positions. So this person was responsible for what’s going on and how can we help?

That’s not the case anymore. There’s a whole bunch of fiscal reasons why. There’s also a whole bunch of organizational reasons why, you know, here’s doing their own training, tapping the shoulder of senior or senior salespeople in order to do it. The issue is it becomes very much just all in the family.

If you’re not willing to go outside and look, at what’s new, what’s trending, what other people have to say, and what other people have experienced. Because Dennis, I tell you, there are people starting today that don’t know even that inventory can be an issue. We’ve experienced it, you’ve sold it, you move forward.

I remember that. Man, that’s almost 30 years ago, having a huge order. I’m so excited. It was right around Christmas. I had this huge order and put it on the air.

Dennis Collins: No spots available. Inventory management. Yeah. And it’s something that we learned from the outside. So in closing today, I’m going to harp a little bit more on don’t be afraid to try things.

And, you know, if you learn something from a so-called failure, you didn’t lose, did you? You didn’t lose. You learned something that didn’t work. If Thomas Edison had stopped his journey to invent the light bulb, he failed reportedly thousands of times. He was experimenting. Well, I tried this and this didn’t work.

Then what’s next? What’s plan B? Most business owners don’t have a plan B. Well, we tried that training and it didn’t work. So training is no good? No, that’s not it. That’s not it at all.

Leah Bumphrey: I’ve heard people say, well, you know what? I’m very clinical in my approach. This is exactly how I do it. This is what works. It’s very, very, very defined. Okay, that’ll work in some instances. But if you’re not open to other possibilities, other ways of doing it, you are missing out. You’re missing out on how to inspire your team. You’re missing out on how to make yourself feel really great when you go home.

Because I absolutely believe at the end of a great training session, whether you’re at Wizard Academy, whether you’re doing a Zoom training, you gotta be able to come out of that with something that you go home and you tell your spouse or you tell someone, guess what I learned today? This is so cool.

Dennis Collins: That would be the mark of a great event. So this has been great, I’m glad you joined. You totally added to this. You’re keeping me on course and I appreciate that you’re giving a different perspective, which I totally appreciate. I hope our listeners got something about getting the most from sales training events.

This is Dennis and Leah. Signing off on this version of Connect and convert. We’ll see you next time.