Why training that confers knowledge and theory without altering ability is pointless

Why training that confers knowledge and theory without altering ability is pointless

Huthwaite talks widely about the correlation between Changing behaviour and Change results.

While corporate lines like these can often come across as vapid and slick, we believe that ours contains a distinct and bold declaration. Because, particularly in the sales business, an improvement in the observable skill with which a thing is done will have an equally observable impact on the personal and corporate outcome. And conversely, we hope to imply, training that only seeks to confer knowledge and theory without altering the ability of a delegate to produce anything better afterwards, is pointless. There are still a few L&D departments around (I know, because I have the privilege of speaking to them occasionally) who haven’t understood this yet. They look to source a training provider who can deliver the right number of days per year, to the right number of people, with the fewest contractual hurdles, at what seems like a good top-line price.

What they spend less time considering are these questions. What are the business improvement needs of the sales team which, by meeting precisely, we can add value to the organisation as a whole? And, how can we judge the provider not by the price per delegate per day, but by the impact they have upon the discipline we are seeking to improve? In other words: can they change behaviour; and will that behaviour change bring quantifiable results?

This is uppermost in our minds at the moment because this is a step-change moment in the life of SPIN® Selling – probably the most famous and widely applied consultative sales methodology on the planet, and proudly the product and possession of Huthwaite International.

There have been many changes in the content of SPIN® over the years; our constant stream of new research (to take just one example of many, on the role of Procurement professionals in the buying decision) means that we develop the way we deliver the training over the years. And from time to time someone else arrives in the market with a new sales methodology, attempting to show that human nature as applied to buying decisions is somehow different now, just because people have the internet, social media, and more supplier options. Thankfully, our clients tell us that whatever useful new insights others might offer along the way, the core need they have, to engage at a personal level with prospects, customers or clients, is so deeply rooted in the kind of human behaviours that SPIN® focuses on, that it cannot simply be displaced.

But that would never be an excuse for us to stand still – because our clients’ needs certainly evolve. In 2013 we brought together many elements of our SPIN® training, coaching and reinforcement work into the SPIN® Suite, completed by the new-look SPIN® Marketing workshop, to form a cohesive package to help companies to achieve consistency in the skills for working with new business opportunities.

That cohesive package has formed the basis of one of the most important short publications we’ve issued in recent years: a productivity case study, showing how a 2014-2015 project with Urgo Healthcare used these SPIN® elements in concert to bring about changed behaviour and changed results. And whilst putting that together, we’ve briefly revisited half a dozen or so of the other published evidence-based productivity cases we’ve collected from clients since the beginning of the 21st century. Proof, we think, that the relevance, effectiveness, impact, currency, and pre-eminence of SPIN® Selling as a practical methodology is as great today as ever. The report is the subject of my next blog.

Also new: major new international and technological developments that meet the growing need for seamless end-to-end implementations across borders, and tools for embedding knowledge of SPIN® on the move. There’s new e-learning now available in every major business language in use across the world, underlining our global capability as the creators of SPIN® Selling and owner of the SPIN®trademark in over 50 countries.

On the digital front, we’ve made our SMART™ system for measuring and reporting the behaviour change of SPIN®-trained sales people easier to use in all computing environments. Coming later in August is a new App to give people access to key SPIN® learning and tools whenever they want it. And don’t forget, since 2009 we’ve been able to offer SPIN® as a fully virtual experience for organisations whose sales forces are dispersed across the world but who want to come together to learn the world’s leading consultative sales call execution model: SPIN® Selling.

In one of our videos, Huthwaite International CEO Tony Hughes revisits some of the fundamentals of SPIN® and the powerful effect it has on sales organisations. You can see highlights here, and the full video series on our YouTube channel.

So, not so much a blog in the mould of some of our others: a rare but I hope justified interlude of Huthwaite blowing our own trumpet. Actually, I play the trumpet in a couple of amateur jazz line-ups. Believe me, writing about Huthwaite and SPIN® is easier.

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David Freedman, Director of Sales
David is Huthwaite's Director of Sales. He is a Fellow of both the Institute of Sales Management and of the Association of Professional Sales, sits on the Management Consultancies’ Association Council and is former Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations MarComs group. He speaks all over the world, from conferences and exhibitions including World of Learning, SAMA, APMP and many international business organisations. He has also been on the judging panels for the National Sales Awards and the National Business Awards.