I know, I know… slightly annoying, me trying to lead with the acronym “LPAC” to try and capture your attention.
Now that I have your attention, let me give you one guy’s perspective on why the LPAC model drives sales mastery.
I have been in the sales training space for almost 25 years. I may not have “seen it all” but I have seen a lot. Whether the topic is the three learning styles, modern instructional design, learning evaluation models (like Kirkpatrick) or the impact technology and AI has had and is having on how we learn, and consume learning, there is a lot to consider when it comes to professional development. But at the root of it needs to be an unassailable pedagogy (I still feel smart every time I say that word…. Ped-uh-gah-gee). Pedagogy, meaning the theory and practice of how teaching/instruction/coaching influences the learner.
Every… and I mean every successful client engagement I’ve been part of over the last 25 years has had one thing in common – they have applied a “developmental and reinforcement” model that drove measurable performance improvement – which is how I define sales mastery.
LPAC = Learn, Practice, Apply, Coach
It is simple, but so powerful!
You learn something… you practice it… you apply it consistently… and you receive expert feedback and coaching to ensure desired behavior is occurring!
Elements of this have been happening in effective sales training programs for decades. Think of traditional instructor-led training programs. As training professionals, we help someone acquire knowledge in class. And then they practice the acquired knowledge through exercises, case studies and/or role plays. Then you implore them to go back to the real world and apply what they have learned on real accounts, real opportunities, real situations. And hopefully, there is some form of management oversight (and systems) that helps ensure adoption and proper execution of acquired knowledge and skills.
So, what makes this revolutionary today?
We now have tools, platforms, data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities that not only allow a learner to “learn, practice and apply” in a digital environment but we can quickly answer some important questions… Where should we focus our developmental efforts? Where should we not focus our efforts? Who is participating in the learning journey? Who is not participating? Who is performing? Who is not performing? Who is coaching? Who is not coaching? Is learning impacting specific business results or is it not?
It really isn’t about someone in L&D checking a box on training. It’s about developing the individual seller in the context of the business strategy and desired results.
So, what might have been seen as a “learning journey” is really a “performance journey”.
Consider the effectiveness that LPAC can deliver today especially given the advancements in technology.
- Learn almost anything – there is probably less of a barrier today than there ever has been for learning content to be generated quickly and cheaper (and in a variety of modalities) than there ever has been. I mean, I can grab my phone, film a two-minute video and distribute that in a very informal or very formal setting to a broad audience.
- Learn only what you need – whether driven by AI, predictive analytics or more traditional assessments, a user can pinpoint what is most important for them to learn and then focus their development in an individualized learning experience.
- Learn based on what supports the business’s strategic direction – whether through AI and/or a defined competency model – development needs can be identified and proven to support specific growth strategies of your business.
It is not wise to practice a new concept or skill for the first time with a real account or opportunity. Today’s tools such as video-coaching, simulations, on-line case studies, and virtual role-play tools allow learners to practice in a variety of manners prior to real-world application… and in a judgment-free environment at that.
Similar in concept to “Learn”, “Practice” can quickly take place on the topics that are of most importance to your own needs and to that of the business.
As any learning professional would attest, application is the key to turning learning into action. Here those “apply” assignments or tasks should hold even more weight if they are completed in the context of real opportunities within real accounts – not purely academic application!
But the application must also be in the context of how the sellers operates on a daily basis.
For example, let’s say a seller needs to create buyer-correspondence or to prepare a customer-facing plan as part of their “application of best practices learned”. If they use CRM on a daily basis, it would make sense to provide correspondence and plan templates or tools within CRM.
For application assignments or tasks on real opportunities, first-line managers (or peers in some cases) should inspect the quality of the application. In other words, they should be the judge of whether “good” is being applied consistently. In some cases, managers might use a checklist of best practices to help guide their consistent assessment of seller performance.
And again, the use of artificial intelligence may be used to provide assistance to sales managers through the use of automatic-grading of assignments – knowing what key words, phrases should be included in correspondence or plans. For other types of assignments where sellers need to demonstrate mastery of sales dialogue, think AI – there could be bots eventually providing the inspection – looking for key words or phrases in conversations that have been associated with successful sales outcomes.
But don’t stress out about what technology and platforms you are implementing or whether or not you fully have artificial intelligence figured out, ensure your company develops its people with a learn-practice-apply-coach philosophy. Then you can explore which tools help deliver on each phase of that LPAC pedagogy. Pedagogy – there, I said it again.
And the LPAC pedagogy, when implemented and executed as designed leads to sales mastery!
If you want to learn more about this model, feel free to download our whitepaper “The Sales Training Dilemma”.