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Growth Driven Design: A Smarter Way To Deliver Training That Transforms

by Shawn Karol Sandy

One of my earliest memories of the power of practice, repetition, and reinforcement was learning to tie my shoes. My favorite Aunt was babysitting me and helping me learn and practice my new skill. She had me tie all the shoes in our family of 5’s shoe closet several times in one afternoon. That’s what it took—I was a pro after that day.

This long episode of continuous practice and repetition was critical for making that skill “sticky” whereas, I made the mistake of teaching my own children to tie their shoes—but those first few times after demonstrating the technique, their opportunity to “practice” was when we were ready to leave for daycare and they felt that pressure to hurry and perform and…yeah, a meltdown of tears ensued. 

Looking back I feel silly and should apologize for setting them up for failure in those stressful moments. At least they have something to discuss with their therapist. 

Learning is never a one-time event. Anyone who’s ever taken up a new hobby, learned a new language, or developed a new skill knows it takes practice, practice, practice to make—well, not perfect, but—at least competent. Especially when the pressure is on. 

So why do we view professional development training any differently? 

Ok, you probably already know I have a beef with traditional sales training—because it’s usually a huge waste of time. I mean, really! Expecting your team to retain—much less implement—new ideas, new tactics, new approaches in their work without repetition, practice, and lots of mistakes? We’re no different from children when it comes to trying to execute a new skill when we’re under pressure. To quote the Greek poet Archilochus, “we don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

I actually built my first sales training consultancy because of my experiences attending training events and annual sales kickoffs. These were events based on the hot book of the year or new sales system. These enterprise companies pulled together teams of hundreds for several days and dished out the lessons to legions of sellers. Everyone left and went back to their markets and customers and business development efforts and those lessons…they were never discussed again, much less reinforced, reiterated, or coached with the sellers. 

This is extremely common and it’s one of the biggest budget wastes a leader can make.

When the pressure is on in an intense meeting or the stakes are high with an angry customer, what are the chances that the one time your team member learned or practiced a skill is going to come to them to be executed effortlessly? Zero. There is zero chance of that happening. We all revert to a state of what’s most comfortable or known when we’re faced with pressure cooker situations. 

Now, there were benefits to those big meetings—most of my own takeaways were conversations and learning from my peers. Making connections with others who had unique ideas or practical lessons to share at those big tables, or over lunch. 

As a pragmatist, I shook my head at the waste of expense and opportunity to help team members improve their skills and keep growing in their profession. Thus my first training firm, The Selling Agency, was born from searching for a better way to help individuals improve their skills, teams level up their results, and organizations consistently raise the bar on growth.

We’ve taken that same philosophy of improvement and growth to our Sauce Agency clients and build skills training on the Growth Driven Design methodology, which focuses on a more flexible and iterative approach to training (i.e. more sticky and way more successful).

Training Your Team Using Growth Driven Design

Growth-Driven Design (GDD) is a website design process that uses stages of iterative improvement that are based on real user data. It’s the flip side of the “traditional web design” coin because it rejects the set-it-and-forget-it model, and it’s never promoting change for change’s sake. 

If you ask me, that’s a pretty good model to base any area of business growth on—especially team training. If you want to look into more areas of Growth-Driven Design business development, check out these blog posts in our “Growth Driven Design: A Smarter Way To…” series:

Here’s why Growth Driven Design works for training your sales team, service team—heck, your entire organization’s training. GDD is a systematic approach to learning that focuses on growth and transformation. It's a flexible and iterative approach that helps teams to continuously develop their skills and enhance their performance. It helps you evaluate gaps in your teams’ understanding and gives you a framework to support skill building. 

Related: You’re Right. Sales Role-Playing Sucks. Try This Instead.

5 Keys To Successful Training

Don’t be fooled by my first love and the mentions of sales training here. I quickly discovered sales skills improvements are almost universally applicable to how all individuals and teams can improve. 

Here are 5 principles of GDD that you, or your favorite Saucy team trainer, can leverage to deliver Training That Transforms your team:

1. Involve the Entire Team

Yes, I mean everyone. From employees and managers to C-level executives, everyone should be involved in the learning process. Leaders play a critical role in creating a culture of continuous learning, so they should lead by example and actively participate in the learning process. A great training plan gives leaders guide rails to reinforce, reiterate, and repeat the insights from training so they’re not forgotten. Coaching, measurements, milestones, and group input are critical to taking the budget you spent on training and turning it into an investment with a fantastic ROI. 

This also helps to create a culture of continuous learning and establishes a shared understanding of not only the organization’s goals and objectives, but how you’ll get there—together. Everyone that talks the talk, walks the walk.

2. Align Training with Goals and Outcomes

If you want your training to stick, you’ll need to help your team connect the dots from “how” to “why.” Goals will tell them the “why.” Effective training is aligned with your organization’s specific goals and outcomes. This isn’t “change for change’s sake” or “training for training’s sake” as I experienced so often in those enterprise organizations. Your training plan should create a framework that ensures every learning module has a specific purpose where the intention and expected outcomes are understood in context to the organization’s goals and initiatives.

3. Recognize Training as an Ongoing Process

GDD recognizes that improvement and learning are not one-time events, but an ongoing process. Training should be integrated into your team’s targets and processes. In this ongoing process, be sure to emphasize practice and repetition so that newly acquired skills become habits. This is also where most organizations fall down and lose much of the ROI potential from their investment. There is often very little time dedicated to continuous coaching and “people development” time for managers and leaders. And when times are busy or hectic, it’s usually the first calendar block to get absorbed into other activities that are seen to be more closely tied to revenue or that time gets consumed by putting out fires.

Just like athletes and performers continue to practice and work with coaches and trainers, your team members need those investments to improve their performance as well. It’s tough to make the time or set aside a budget for it but training, business coaching, and mentoring is the stuff that separates the good organizations from extraordinary ones.

4. Embrace Mistakes and Learning

Mistakes. Everybody makes them. I have an incredibly smart, growth minded friend who tracks her mistakes and only considers her year a successful year of personal growth if she can count 13 big, fat, hairy, mistakes. Watching her personal and professional growth, I can tell you that her level of accountability and professional success are inspiring - and she can tie it directly back to taking chances and learning from mistakes, failures, and flops.

Smart business leaders plan for mistakes and bake them into the learning process. Unfortunately, most of us can recount many experiences where making mistakes were humiliating or cost us greatly. You can’t just give lip service to your team that “mistakes will be made.” You’ll need to encourage your team to try new things, lead by example, and “fail forward” by embracing mistakes, learning from them, and course-correcting based on feedback. 

5. Provide Feedback

Finally, give and take feedback freely. We begin to look for feedback cues from the time we’re an infant. We might not even recognize that we subconsciously look for feedback in body language, tone, and words in nearly every exchange. Feedback is essential to learning so take the opportunity to provide regular feedback so your team knows what is expected of them and how they are doing. 

You can do this by setting up regular feedback check-ins with a specific focus. At Team Sauce, we split those quick check ins into professional development and culture/role check ins with team members every other week. 

If you’ve got a team member that is finding it difficult to accept or give feedback, put the book, Radical Candor in their hands. This is one of our must-reads at Team Sauce and it has helped our team communicate and give feedback in meaningful and effective ways.

As hard as it was to learn to tie our shoes when our little fingers were still managing manual dexterity, it’s even harder to learn new things as adults because our life experiences have firmly shaped our ideals, our identity, and our habits. A haphazard training plan won’t cut it if you’re looking for real results and want real ROI for your investment. Incremental growth, sticky learning sessions, and practice, practice, practice is key. 

Transformation Starts Here: Build A Strong Team With Training From Sauce Agency

Building a training plan for your team goes beyond just training for your sales, service, or marketing teams. You should build a “Selling Organization”—a workplace that fosters a collective culture, motivating and rewarding behaviors that support your organization's financial goals. This isn’t just about commission-based roles; it's about creating a workplace culture that encourages teamwork and engagement.

Here's how we help you do it: First, work together to create a unified message. Then, we'll coach you to spot opportunities and act on them. We'll provide you with the tools and trust you need to convey that message effectively. And remember, coaching and training will be an ongoing part of your journey within the organization. By working together towards this shared goal of financial health, you'll amplify your impact on sales and marketing efforts.

If you’re ready to build a continuous improvement plan, unlock your team’s full potential, and achieve transformative results in your training programs—schedule a call with one of Certified Growth Guides to learn about how we do training differently (and better!). 



Topics:B2B SalesSales ConsultantSales TrainerSales ExpertTraining That Transforms

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