The Banana Story,Part One

Gregory LaMothe, Banana Master

 Have you ever attended a training program where the facilitator talked and talked in order to tell you what you needed to know? Ever go to a sales meeting where the manager did the same thing?  Come on, you can tell me, how often did you look at your watch?

Now here’s the deal on learning.  People rarely learn anything by having presentations made to them.  They learn by doing things, which is one of the most important principles of adult learning.  So if you have content that you want people to know, for heaven’s sake don’t send them to training or call a meeting.  Let them read the content on-line or in some other method, and then to be certain they understand and retain it, test them on it, just like in high school or college.  Calling people together to make presentations to them carries the risk of wasting time and money. All meetings of line people have an opportunity cost because they are not out in the field talking to prospects and customers.

I know this from experience.  Companies will ask me to design training for them and inevitably we get bogged down in what an instructional designer would call the “cognitive content” area, what we want the learners to “know,”(for example the buying motives of various market segments), as opposed to the psychomotor domain, what we want the learners to be able to “do,”(for example asking useful questions that attend to the customer’s important issues).

So let’s take this “learn by doing” approach and apply it to your sales meetings. How should you transition from the meetings you’ve been running, where there are lots of presentations, to meetings that are filled with useful and fun practice opportunities?

In this Friday’s post I’m going to give you a sure-fire method for making this change, but until then, let me set up the story for you so you’ll remember to read it (or maybe share it with another manager).

Years ago I worked for a software company called Xchange as a business consultant.  Everything the company did was a presentation and meeting preparation was always about the slides in the “deck.”  But my orientation was the facilitated discussion, using it to train people by getting them to practice stuff. I didn’t like presenting from a Power Point deck.

At the company’s annual customer convention in Florida in 2000, I was asked to make a presentation in a huge hotel ballroom to over 500 customers to help them understand how the business consultants can work with them to bring about changed behavior at the front line.

I sure didn’t want to make a Power Point presentation.  I wanted something highly interactive and engaging.

Know what I did?  I asked the hotel caterers if I could have 500 bananas!  And on Friday I’ll tell you what I did with them.  See you then.  Meanwhile, please…

Think Like Your Customer!

I send an e-newsletter first week of every month.  My June issue deals with one of the practices of effective coaches.  If you’re not signed up, please go to my website www.actionsystemstraining.com, click on the fancy “N”(for newsletter) in the top right and enter your name and email address.  Thank you.  Gregory

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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