For those of you that are in the training field, maybe a manager or even an external consultant, I can bet that when you are contacted about something you can do, you are only seconds away from talking up the potential benefits of your solution. But my advice is not to do it!
Well, eventually you will want to talk it up to the stars if it is the best solution, but what I am encouraging all of you to do is fully diagnose the issues, problems and concerns before proposing any solution.
While we all have favorite cure-all programs that we have personally see countless healings when it was implemented, we must act like a trusted physician and collect all the symptoms, interview the patient and diagnose the full illness before recommending a treatment plan.
Years ago, after spending a lot of time as a facilitator and then as an instructional designer, I was introduced to the world of performance consulting. The initial training program that I participated in drove home the need to dig deep into what it takes to perform a given job, so that every area of performance could be evaluated way before any solution was discussed. It made asking a lot of questions and saying little in response a key part of the process.
To say this was easy to learn would be false, as it took more than the 2-day workshop to get the hang of it. Yet overtime I began to listen to myself to monitor my speech, and use discussion questions I preplanned to keep myself on a path that did not include talk of solutions.
Once you fully understand all the causes for good performance, and have a list of areas that need shoring up, you can quickly identify fixes. Some will indeed be training skills, while others could be coaching, management inclusion, different equipment, better procedures and the list goes on.
So the next time someone says “how can I improve our sales”, I want you to diagnose first, and treat the whole process second; no matter how wonderful your new sales training is.