There’s a saying I love that’s often used in the military.
“Under pressure, we don’t rise to the occasion—we sink to the level of our training, and that’s why we train so hard.”
Now, if you’re like me you’re probably thinking, “Well, of course I would rise to the occasion.” But I’d argue that this mentality neglects the essential first two words of the quote—“under pressure.”
If you’ve ever worked in a sales or customer service role, you know a thing or two about pressure. “Under pressure” usually means in crisis, or headed in that direction.
It makes me ask myself questions like…
- How do I react when a moment starts to speed up?
- What happens when anxiety hits, my mind goes blank, and I’m forced to rely on my muscle memory?
In the sales and customer service worlds, most day-to-day activities are routine—they’re conversations and interactions that keep business relationships healthy and moving along. Occasionally, there are fires to put out at work, but if great processes are in place and everyone knows them, it’s easy to work efficiently and peacefully.
I’m learning that the success and failure of sales and customer service teams is largely based on how well they’re prepared to handle these processes. Great teams are usually defined by these common factors—a driven team, a strong product, experienced leadership, a repeatable business model, and more.
But what if “improvement on the margins” was one of these factors of success? What if the 1% increase in potential that reps hit through continuous practice, refinement, and coaching was accounted for? Every sales and customer service rep has strengths and weaknesses, but if every rep closed one more deal or renewed one more customer because of an improved weakness or honed-in strength, training would truly pay for itself. Training techniques in the workplace matter.
Most teams spend the first month of the new fiscal year testing shiny new methods of training and development, like hiring in a sales coach or one of the corporate training companies in the USA. And while consultants have training and development topics and insights to share, they’re rarely created specifically for each individual company. What teams want are fun training topics—new sales methods, better onboarding, product release updates, pricing changes, policies, procedures, etc. Every iteration of training should look different than the last.
So much of consultative training is immediately forgotten because our workplaces are changing, and traditional training methods aren’t the solution anymore. Think about how quickly reps slide back into old habits and how often reps tap each other on the shoulder to refresh their memories on different processes. At work, we’re either getting better or worse—we are never staying the same. Metrology and calibration training can raise our ceilings.
Training + Baseball
Story time—I umpired little league baseball for 11 years. When I was going through umpire training, this is the quote that stuck with me the most: “Umps are only there for the close calls.” In the ideal game, no player, coach, or fan should need to acknowledge the umpire. Of course, not every game went like that. Making close calls guaranteed tension with whichever team got the short end of the call. So much of my umpiring was about staying calm in the chaos, knowing the rules of the game, and being able to kindly reason with and defuse emotionally-charged people. In those moments, I’d always “fall to the level of my training.”
Shortening the Fall
Sales and customer service can be like this, too, with great training. Very few reps notice how well they’re continuously improving with training until a moment ramps up, and they perform differently as a result of what they’ve learned.
Tense, higher-stakes situations qualify in my mind as “the margins.” Getting consistent feedback on how we’re performing in the margins of our work and adjusting our responses accordingly helps us “wow” prospects and customers in new ways. Training techniques in the workplace are where the marginal situations, the 1%, are won or lost.
Companies that offer training programs, specifically online training programs, can be one step ahead. They make the fall to the level of their employees’ training a little shorter with each additional lesson. I don’t know about you, but when I’m under pressure, I want that fall to be short. Thankfully, it all starts with great training.
Fall back on excellence with Lessonly
At Lessonly, we believe in the continuous improvement software our team is working to build each day. We don’t just sell it—we use it ourselves, too. Our tool is powerfully simple, and we help teams raise the floor of their training so they fall back on excellence. Interested? You can learn more or get a demo today.