telling is not training

02 Jun 2022

Why telling people to change not working?

I don’t know too many HR & Sales managers who haven’t experienced the frustration of telling their sales teams to improve their sales skills and conversations.

It can be by improving by asking clients questions, listening to them, showing empathy, doing following up, and all the things only to have these fall on deaf ears.

Sales teams continue with the old way of just calling up and asking for orders immediately or not making any attempt to converse with reluctant buyers.

Recently during a client interaction, a sales head said, can we have the program done in 4 hrs?

Because, I have been telling the same thing you have mentioned in your program to my team, but they don’t seem to get or don’t do what they agreed.

Maybe if they hear from you, they will get it and implement it. Can we get it done in 4 hrs?

The fact is, many managers are good at telling and not training. And the common notion is many wrongly believe that telling must work and just that an external person comes and tell and people will get it and implement it.

What gets really missed is if you are seeking people to change their behaviors, actions, and even thinking then telling alone doesn’t work.

Difference between telling & training

The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) has done a series of conferences under the title “Telling Ain’t Training”. They’re absolutely right

Here’s the difference:

When you tell someone something, they might intellectually understand what you want, but there’s no guarantee they can perform the skill involved. Think about swimming. Would you trust your life to someone who gave you verbal instructions, showed you a video then pushed you into the water?

You’d probably want to try a few things out first. Stopping, for example, might be at the top of that list.

Yet how many the managers who do not formally know the art of training, continue to invest their time in telling their people in standups, meetings, and videos and expect their teams to implement new ways of selling, and practice new processes.

If you are a manager, ask how did that work for you?

That’s because (all together now….) telling someone, isn’t the same as actually training them and ensuring they can do what you’re asking of them.

Behavior changes require deeper interventions that can be achieved through training, and coaching vs mere telling.

The training entails several steps that a simple telling or demonstration doesn’t work. 4 essential elements of training includes,

4 Essentials elements of training vs telling

Assess the current level

Any new learning requires energy. In general, people are bored to learn something they already know and feel a waste of time learning things that are not connected to their job or not keen to learn.

So to make learning effective and people invest their energy, there has to be first buy-in from them and for that knowing their current level of attitude, knowledge, and skills are critical. Assessing is an important step part of that.

Set clear expectations and outcomes

We are going to learn new skills and knowledge is an outcome-driven objective. What people want to hear is you will learn how to ask questions that help to understand clients better.

You will learn the principles of presenting that help to close sales faster. Keeping the objective and setting expectations outcome-driven is critical. This helps them also that what they learn can apply on the job and improve results.

Not just tell, but demonstrate

People want to know clearly what you are teaching at the concept level (Why) and at the application level (What is that) and also usage level (How it can be done). A trainer doesn’t just leave at Why & What but How is key. He must be able to demonstrate how the concept can be applied in the relevant situations.

For example, if salespeople say difficult to client details, then the trainer wants to introduce concept of asking questions to get details, the trainer must not only be able to share the concept of asking questions but must also when to apply this and how it can be applied that helps to make clients reveal details.

Practicing the new skill and competency

People might know they should be able to listen to clients, but can they really listen when they have so much to tell?

Unless people undergo the new skills with role play, group interactions, and sometimes the next level of coaching, it is hard to practice many of the simple skills effectively. The top 1% of sellers say what they keep learning is still the basic skills of asking questions, listening, building rapport, and introducing themselves to strangers.

To really make it impactful, telling a hundred people at once won’t be as effective as training them in small groups and having them actually perform the task you’re trying to teach them.

Implementation Reinforcement

Finally, any new skill, concept, or attitude change cannot be mastered in 1 day or 2 days. It needs constant reinforcement and a good training system has this in place.

Asking the participants to demonstrate in front of fellow participants after 1 week, or 1 month is a great way to make learning effective. Even online learning and reinforcement are effective if used correctly.

Learning the tools, and skills and applying them in the job will make life a lot easier for everyone but the only thing to remember is learning requires more than just telling. Or repeated telling can be sometimes injurious : )