In a Strategic Management classroom, a sea of groans was heard as 50 students voiced their displeasure. Several analysis frameworks were up on the screen. All had to be completed before we could develop a recommendation that would determine a freight company’s fate.
After reading the business case, our minds were made up and we all had the obvious answers. Doing Porter’s Five Forces amongst six other frameworks seemed redundant and like annoying busy work.
Little did I know how powerful these frameworks would prove to be.
Sales Training That Sticks
When asked to prepare a sales training presentation, I knew I'd have a tough crowd. The leadership execs were convinced their sales people were purely order takers and just didn’t have the skillset to sell. When talking to each leader, I heard, “we tried to teach them many times and it didn’t work”.
Except for this time, it did.
My coworker advised to mimic my favorite teachers’ techniques. Being a tough critic myself, I found that my favorite, and most effective, teachers did the following to grasp my attention and ignite the passion to learn:
- Relevancy. They used real business scenarios, which made it easy to form an interest because I could relate, imagine, and apply myself to the situation.
- Curiosity Gap. The class started with a question that we would work through. The big reveal would happen at the end of the class.
- Frameworks. They all used business frameworks to work through the scenarios and helps us apply the learning.
I used these concepts in a recent training and saw a dramatic shift in mindset happen in a matter of 6 hours.
Why Frameworks Change Mindsets
A framework is a systematic set of analytical questions to help structure your business environment and thoughts to make a decision. There’s many of them out there—Porter’s Five Forces, VRIN Framework, and Fishbone Root Cause Analysis to name a few.
Frameworks work due to the psychological framing effect. Our minds react to context in which something is presented, not just the thing itself. By altering the way information or choices are presented, can change the way we think about it. And it can be demonstrated in this illusion.
If you choose to focus on the white background, you see a vase. If you focus on the black background, you see two faces. Likewise, systematically posing a set of questions forces people to focus on a piece of the big picture that they previously did not focus on.
If you’re frustrated by your sales people not being able to grasp and adopt a concept or skill you’re trying to teach, hold a workshop training secession to re-frame their thinking. Use relevant examples and scenarios and work through it using a framework.
How To Apply Frameworks to Your Sales Challenges
Frameworks offer a new perspective and focus our attention to areas we might have previously ignored or didn’t think were important. By changing the context in which information is presented to your sales team, you can gain a different perspective to find new ways to differentiate in the market, identify new opportunities and threats, and discover the real reason why something is not working. Below are common situations that can benefit from a framework workshop:
Situation: Your sales team can’t get past selling product features.
When we know our product really well, we can get cursed by having too much knowledge. Sales people will often assume the other person on the line knows as much as they do and will fail to investigate a prospect’s real needs, jumping straight to features and product jargon.
How Framing Can Help: Create a worksheet with your products. Have your sales people outline 5 problems your product solves for each persona.
Situation: Your sales people are losing deals to the competition
There may be many reasons you’re losing to a competitor. Perhaps new market entrants have made it difficult to differentiate, there’s a new trend that’s shifting market demand, or you have a leaky sales process.
How Framing Can Help: Perform a competitive analysis to identify what your competitors are doing and use Porter’s Five Forces to identify what’s going on in the market that’s influencing your sales.
Situation: Stagnant revenue growth
If you haven’t been growing for a few years, it’s time to change.
How Framing Can Help: What we intuitively think is the problem often ends up being a symptom. Use the fishbone analysis to systematically review problematic areas to identify the root cause. This will give you a new perspective on what changes need to be made in your organization. You can also use the VRIN framework if your solution is to launch a new product.
Finding the best framework to train your team, identify opportunities, and figure out why problems in your organization exist starts by auditing your organization. Take our free 12 Point Sales Organization Assessment and receive a complimentary, customized report with improvement recommendations.