Driving Behavior Change in a World of Unreliable Managers


Sixty six days—that’s how long it takes to build better habits in a sales force, according to United Rentals’ Shelley Robins, citing a manager impact study. This fundamental training challenge is not necessarily an issue because sales managers are unreliable; it’s an issue because driving adoption in the field is an imperative.

Often times, as Robins noted, knowing how well you’re doing here comes down to answering two questions: How much are the skills being used, and how much do they help? Adoption doesn’t happen by accident, and there are five leading indicators that Robins and Tom Jones, also of United Rentals, keep in mind when assessing how they’re doing:

  • Behavior changes
  • Value articulation skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Branch manager reinforcement efforts
  • Coaching and reinforcement

Here are a two tips offered by Robins and Jones for staying strong across some of these crucial adoption indictors:

  • Small improvements = wins. Focus on certain topics of training at a time. For example, drill down on key negotiations skills to keep your team sharp on their skills, such as setting high targets or expanding the range of reason.
  • Provide a proof of mastery step for certification, giving managers skills check lists they can use to ensure reps are fluent across the most important selling skills and concepts.
Tim Riesterer

Tim Riesterer

Chief Strategy Officer

Tim Riesterer has dedicated his career to improving the conversations marketers and salespeople have with prospects and customers. His books, “Customer Message Management”, “Conversations that Win the Complex Sale”, “Three Value Conversations”, and "The Expansion Sale", focus on improving market-ready messages and tools that marketers and salespeople can use to win more deals. As chief strategy and research officer for Corporate Visions, he sets the direction and develops products for this leading marketing and sales messaging, content and training company.