Updated: Jun 15, 2021
In my career, after twenty-three years of Sales experience I took up the training role as Training Manager - Product and Installation training. Generally Technical and Soft skills are considered two separate buckets. So, I focused on Technical training - specific to product knowledge and installation capabilities.
After a few months onto my job, as an experimental initiative, I integrated the technical and soft skills together. The result was amazingly interesting; I started to gradually evolve as a trainer and demonstrate that by infusing soft skills training onto a Technical training could bring a dramatic change to the overall personality of a participant.
Here, I am sharing a few examples:
We first introduced the integration of soft with technical learning - Consultative Selling with Technical knowledge. The primary focus of Consultative Selling is “Art of Questioning”. Here, we adopted SPIN selling technique. The questions that were discussed and prepared for each stage of the process during the training program were from the technical aspects of the product and installation. We started to notice that the team-engagement during learning was improving. However, we observed that the application of learning needs further improvements.
In 2018, we further improved our ‘Learning systems’ by introducing Group Process Facilitation in Technical learning.
Introducing of Group Process Facilitation Skills
In the next work shop, we used JIGSAW process to learn FIRE Technical subject for the sales team. Jigsaw is one of the processes in the Art of facilitation. So instead of using a PPT, we formed the physical groups. Another unique process to learn collaboratively and also bring the participants into innovative thought process and to present the learning through art.
We were amazed to experience that the group of participants worked as a team. Four teams had presented the same topic. All the members learnt the technical aspects, they were creative, engaged themselves and presented together. This learning method through Group Process Facilitation helped every learner to retain and recreate it in the real world. Their knowledge, creativity, presentation skills and the relationship improved drastically.
In our next workshop, we further improved on the Consultative Selling & Technical Learning using BRAINSTROM process. The team chosen the important technical aspects from customer perspective and brainstormed at each stage of SPIN Technique.
Here we introduced the Pre-learning for preparing the participants for the workshop. In the Pre-learning they were required to read and watch videos of SPIN technique.
We used sticky wall to capture all the points. During the session, the team debated positively, managed the conflict and learned creatively. This group learning process helped in improving the technical knowledge and practicing SPIN technique. They started to ask good meaningful technical questions at the initial stage of the projects. We started to evolve the learning systems and started to experience that technical and soft skills worked together well.
Train the Trainers:
In 2020, as part of strategic programs, we embarked into developing Continuous Learning Program (CLP). Under this CLP, we wanted to convert all the topics into eLearning and offer through our Learning Management System (LMS) by 2021. Thus, we can offer this as a refresher course, also with new topics - to the sales and Channel partners in the future. One of the critical ingredients for creating the eLearning is to have scripts. We could create the scripts for the eLearning.
Here we adopted the "Train the Trainer" concept. We created smaller groups of three sales individuals through voluntary participation and we put them under a Subject Matter Expert (SME).
As the participants are from different regions and backgrounds, we put them through a team building program, to enhance their social relationship and clear understanding about each other. After completion of each presentation to the channel partner team, we would conduct the Debriefing session to understand their journey, post presentation takeaways and identify areas for further improvements.
After completing the program, we used Appreciative Inquiry (Discover and Destiny) by using Open Space Technology. Both are processes of Facilitation. This was a different experience all together for us. The team members from one region were keen to contribute to another region, with good dialogues when dealing with the cross-region projects.
Eventually, we could achieve Culture of learning and team work and bring in more teachers into the system, Technical and Product knowledge improved across the sales organization, Scripts for creating eLearning contents, Improved Presentation skills and Knowledge improvement of our Channel Partners.
The Cotalyst Journey:
In February 2021, I got the opportunity to work with two MSME for their business development by focusing on people. Had adopted the Group process Facilitation for Learning the technical aspects and improving the soft-skills.
This is a journey and I am continuously engaging with the learners and able to notice that the team is learning technical aspects, being creative, improving on the presentation skills and also applying these aspects on the job. Also get appreciation from superiors for their elevation to next level. Their top three observations:
They are responding fast to their colleagues and customers.
Answering the technical questions had improved.
Now they are showing inclination to learn more.
I am documenting the journey. Can be shared for your reference.
I have personally gone through many changes in this journey. Each individual is willing to learn and we need to give him/her that opportunity. Either small or big organization, we need to put individuals into smaller groups of three or four (irrespective of their departments and job requirements) to learn the technical aspects. It will bring the best out of the individuals when they are in groups. They start to observe others in the learning journey, they learn much effectively and easily.
I am not a Subject-Matter-Expert (SME) for all the technical aspects, will use the right process, get appropriate support from SMEs and work with the participants.
Yes, in my experience we can improve the behavior of the participants, develop the skills in them through Learning systems.
Happy to discuss…….
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