A few years ago, I took over the sales training for one of the top 50 home remodelers in America. Their recruiting and hiring processes were good, and from what I saw they hired people that should be able to do the job. The company needed to set expectations.

They had an intense and thorough training program. New hires began on a Monday and spent six to eight hours each day in the classroom after which, they rode with a tenured salesperson on appointments observing practical application of what they’d seen in the classroom. After working until eight or nine PM, they had assignments to complete. After all that, they were expected to go by themselves to an appointment on their sixth day – Saturday and make a sell.

The Salespeople Didn’t Sell

The problem was the new salespeople didn’t sell. Often it was weeks before their first sale, which was expensive for the company and discouraged the salespeople.

I spent a week observing the training, reviewing their literature, and interacting with a class of new salespeople. I took charge of the following class.

One Change

I only made one substantial change to the organizations training plan. I set expectations from the beginning and tied every piece of training to that expectation. From the start, I told the class they were expected to sell on Saturday, their first day on their own. I continued by explaining I would do my part and give them everything they needed to make this happen. Next, I explained that this would only work if they worked. If they followed my instructions, learned the material, and completed their assignments they would be successful.

Tie the Expectation to the Training

Throughout the training, I tied every step to the expectation of selling their first day. For example, part of the presentation was sharing the company’s history, which was impressive. The business had won numerous awards for quality work and customer service, which inspired trust in consumers, but only if it was presented well. When I gave the assignment of learning the company story, I tied back to how important this assignment was to completing their first sell. To add to that, I explained each would be videotaped the next morning, so that they could critique their performance.

If You want to Make an Impact Set Expectations

With that one change, tying expectations to the training, the first day sell percentage for new salespersons went from almost zero to more than 90%.

Okay, so you don’t train salespeople. It doesn’t matter. Whatever and whoever you train can be enhanced by setting clear expectations, and then tying training to the expectations.

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