Tag Archives: Training

Enhancing Training Effectiveness thro’ the Law of Diffusion of Innovation

Any form of training is ultimately a change management program where the organization expects its executives to approach a problem with a different behaviour, attitude, or a skill. In a highly competitive market where customers are spoilt for choice, the main challenge for salespeople is to effectively demonstrate the value of their products and services to handle the discount issue. There are two approaches in scheduling a training program: a conventional Giving-on-a-Platter (platter) approach and a rarely practised  Earning-One’s-Stripes ( Stripes) approach. The following example will compare and contrast both the approaches.

Aristo India is a leading manufacturer of  sliding wardrobes and kitchen cabinets with HO at Bangalore.  Mr. Kuruvilla Kurian, the Sales Director had a different approach to having a Value-Selling training for his pan-India team which include:

  1. Voluntary Participation: Only those salespeople who are interested can apply for the program. In a Conventional Platter approach, attendance is compulsory as decided by the  senior management and HR.
  2. Efforts prior to Participation: Application for a training program does not guarantee enrolment. Each  applicant needs to write a 500-words essay to articulate one’s raison d’ etre. The essay was carefully evaluated by Ms. Sudipta Shetty, Head-CRM to understand the applicant’s sincerity and the originality of thought.                                  – In a platter approach, there are no efforts. Participants either click on a link to register or fill up a form for enrolment.  
  3. Post-Training Implementation: Based on their essays, a 2-day program titled Value-Selling of Premium Wardrobe Solutions was designed. During the program commencement, the participants stated the challenges which were predominantly  external factors like customers do not listen, they are price sensitive, they are interested only in discounts etc. During the training program, the participants underwent role plays simulating the  real-life situations. By the program conclusion it was shown that some of the problems had an internal locus of control for the sales team like inappropriate body language of the seller, miscommunication, lack of probing, listening etc. The videographed role plays were replayed with exhaustive debriefing.

Post training, Kuru and Sudipta decided that conducting similar role plays for each region internally  could be a better way of enhancing the learning effectiveness. Sudipta took the initiative in arranging  the same. A review session with the trainer on a virtual platform was subsequently arranged for implementation of the action plan.

  • In the platter approach, normally the program gets concluded with a standard feedback form.  

THE DIFFUSION OF INNOVATION theory describes the pattern and speed at which innovative ideas, practices, or products spread through a population which can be correlated in the present article to bringing a cultural change (in beliefs, attitude, values etc.) through training. The main players in a group are classified as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. The new ideas are adopted sequentially first by the innovators and lastly by the laggards.

  1. Innovators ( 2.5%) : They are willing to risk and accept any new ideas.
  2. Early Adopters( 13.5%) : Are already aware of the need to change and are comfortable adopting new ideas.
  3. Early Majority (34%) : They need the evidence that the innovation works before willing to adopt it.
  4. Late Majority ( 34%): They are sceptical of change and will only adopt if it has been tried by the early majority.
  5. Laggards ( 16%): Are bound by tradition and are conservative.

The characteristics of the Platter approach are:

  1. It targets the entire population irrespective of their intent and the degree of willingness to change.
  2. Being mandatory it may degenerate into an ‘event’ in  terms of food, ambience, entertainment thro fun/videos and freebies for the majority (early and late) and the laggards.
  3. A CHRO from a renowned construction company shared that their managers are interested only in branded programs from IIMs where the main motive is certification.
  4. Quite often the line managers are reluctant to nominate their reportees for the program  complaining that it affects the completion of their immediate tasks. I am not sure whether they too belong to the majority and the laggards.

How does the stripes approach differ from the platter approach? The former targets only the early adopters rather than the entire group.  It also does not link training program to certification, promotion, or increments but only to the interest and the initiative of the participant. The diffusion of training to other segments like majority and laggards is ultimately decided by the program quality and the way the early adopters spread the message.

The platter approach makes training mandatory treating all the subgroups like early adopters, late majority, laggards in the same bracket whereas the stripes approach creates a demand for training. The first batch of Value Selling program for Aristo India was targetted for the early adopters. This in turn has created so much buzz that others are willing to enrol for the second batch but only after going through the rigour of an essay and a selection process. Remember, anything that is given on a platter is never valued. The difference between the two approaches is summarized in the table below.

PLATTER VS STRIPES APPROACH

 PlatterStripes
Management ParadigmTraining is mandatoryTraining is optional
Target SegmentRandom, no specific targetEarly Adopters
EnrolmentBy DefaultSelection thro’ an  Essay
Participant MindsetReactiveProactive
Locus of ControlExternal  like certificationInternal – Job Enrichment
Efforts by HRNormalExtensive
Buy-in from the non-attendeesNot ApplicableCreates demand depending on  the program quality and the buzz.

Three Bad Habits Sabotaging Your Productivity

Clock-StressPeter Drucker was  consulting for a CEO of a major bank in US.  For every meeting the  CEO used to assign Peter a time slot of 90 minutes. A highly effective person, the CEO was delivering  consistent results for his bank year-on-year. During the  one-and-half hour meeting the CEO refrained from taking any telephone calls Continue reading

Does success in Small Value Sales a Guarantee in Key Accounts too?

This question when asked by my clients,  I am reminded of Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got you Here, Won’t Get you There!   One of our clients nominated his star performer, Akshay for our training program. The main reason being he was not able to reach his desired targets in selling high-value capital equipments, the way he was selling laptops and mobiles in his previous organization. It is generally believed that a great salesman can sell anything to anybody. Translated otherwise, most of us feel that a great salesman is the one who can sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo. The above statement is not true for the following reasons:There has been a paradigm shift from a Sellers’ to a buyers’ market. Today’s customers have more choices vis-à-vis their counterparts in 90s.

  1. Thanks to internet, today’s customers are knowledgeable. A person before buying a mobile or a car has done enough research on the net comparing products technically as well as commercially.
  2. If you try to sell something a customer does not need, there is possibility the customer express his anger and frustration on twitter/trip-adviser etc. and in no time the contents may go viral.
  3. In a low-value sale, generally the customer knows what he wants to buy and the interaction between the salesperson and the customer is transactional. The salesman needs to inform the product features, the price and the competitive comparison.
  4. In case of a high-value sale, or a key account sale, quite often the customer may not clearly know what he needs, he may have a vague idea. He needs a solution not a standard sales pitch. Precisely for this reason the salesman needs to be an active and empathic listener and also willing to probe deeper. He also needs to understand the customer’s business that is customer’s customer. Here the interaction is more on relationships.   You will observe that the some of these competencies can be acquired but others are natural traits like strategic thinking. This is one of the reasons why a Star Performer in Small Sale may not always succeed in high-ticket deals or Key Account Management.

 Paradigm Trainers Private Limited is having training programs on Key Account Management and Advanced Negotiation Skills in Bangalore ( 14/15th Nov.) and Mumbai ( 21/22nd Nov.) for more details : www.paradigm-info.com

Who Says customer is the King?

It was a chilly December afternoon in Bangalore. We were at the Commercial Street in Bangalore. By around 2 pm when the shopping was over, we decided to have meals. On either sides of the road, there were MNC joints, one a McDonalds and the other KFC. To save the hassle of crossing the road, we got into KFC. The menu displayed on the wall was a series of combination of chicken pieces, French fries, Pepsi. Called as mini meals, value- add meals, combo meals with various  permutations & combinations, Pepsi was a common factor among all. It was quite dreadful to have Pepsi where the glass is topped with more than 50% ice on a chilly afternoon.

After considerable efforts, we were able to figure out a possibility of ordering a La-carte. Getting drinking water by default is out of question in an MNC joint. It affects the sale of Pepsi and Coke.  After finishing the meals, we requested for water. What was served after a long delay was the ice-cold version.  It was quite a struggle drinking such cold water on a chilly afternoon. We had to drink it sip-by-sip like  hot tea.

I go to a normal Darshini, Udipi restaurant. The waiter is not trained like the ones in the MNCs. Without being asked, he serves you drinking water and then you can order a dosa or an idly with coffee/tea. Why does training makes life difficult for customers?

Another example: I drove my car in a Shell petrol bunk. To avoid taken for a ride by the attendant, one  needs to be a Zen master and get into the present –moment awareness. The conversation goes as follows:

Attendant: Shall I fill  the tank with super petrol? (Remember, it is a closed question and it is easy to answer yes. The Super petrol is expensive by Rs 10 per litre vis-à-vis the normal petrol, the guy does not take the trouble to tell you this fact.)

I: ( with a calm disposition)  Please fill in the normal petrol.( You cannot afford to mumble NO as he can claim he heard it as Yes.)Attendant: Shall I top-up the tank?

I: Please fill only for Rs. 1000.                                                                                                                                                             Having missed his target twice, he makes a last feeble attempt.

Attendant: Can I help you with routine checkup like Oil check and coolant check?

I: how much will you charge?

Attendant: No, its free.

I: wonderful, please go ahead.

Attendant: (He opens the bonnet, takes out the oil indicator slider) The oil level is low. Your engine will seize anytime and it will damage the engine if you do not fill oil now.

I: How much will it cost?                                                                                                                                                                Attendant: Rs. 785/-

I: thanks for your advice.                                                                                                                                                                             I drive out after paying for the petrol. Last three weeks my car is still working fine.                                                                         Executives from KFC or Shell go through rigorous training vis-à-vis their Indian counterparts in Kamat/Shanbhag hotels or Indian Oil/Hindustan Petroleum .

Who says the customer is king but a hapless victim ( if gullible enough) who can be conned at the drop of hat?