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Focus_The Privilege of Field Trainers

The Privilege of Field Trainers

By Brian Lange

No doubt about it: Serving as a field trainer provides invaluable learning experiences and enhances your own self-awareness. Quite simply, it illuminates your understanding of others — while learning more about the dynamics of influence and the role of behaviors. In the end, you also come to understand that serving in the role is a privilege.

I’ve been helping folks prepare to serve as field trainers for many years, and I love the wide-eyed sense of anticipation; the glimmer of anxiety as they face some unknowns; and the excitement at the prospect of helping others to succeed. One of the first important lessons to learn is that adding a new title to your business card doesn’t mean the role is about you: It’s about others. It’s about being “of service” to others. Establishing this tone is best done at the very beginning of each coaching relationship: instead of displaying a “Here’s what I’ll need you to do…” vibe, it’s more beneficial to facilitate dialogue around, “How can we make this work relationship as valuable as possible? What do you need from me? What works for you in terms of feedback?”

Field trainers are in a unique situation: They have a front-row seat with several sales professionals and get to see how they face and respond to similar challenges. The ability to then curate these encounters and disseminate them for others to consider is a special opportunity.

Probably the most sincerely held misperception at the beginning of the field trainer journey is the idea that the trainer will be able to “change” others with powerful suggestions or influence them by showcasing the trainer’s exceptional selling skills. Change is hard. Egos, judgments and power dynamics can get in the way. Aristotle reminded us that, “Influence works best when the other person can decide for themselves.” If field trainers use that mantra as a guiding principle — they’ll give the space a person needs to really consider the input—and then they own the decision to change (vs. acquiesce to the trainer’s advice). This can result in a stronger willingness to integrate the field trainer’s input.

The role helps bring out the subtleties involved in coaching others to succeed — and it is also a great platform from which to learn if a field trainer aspires to become a sales manager someday. In fact, one of the great aspects of the role is that it doesn’t come with any real “organizational power” — meaning you can’t likely sway someone to incorporate your coaching because they “have to.” Instead, it’s really a pure form of coaching: you have the opportunity to influence behavior in a truly consultative way.

While one of the challenges of the role lies in having your own territory numbers in which you are still fully responsible — the rewards can be even more fulfilling when you take some of your time to help others. I guarantee you’ll learn more about yourself — as well as gain insights on other ways of working — and experience the satisfaction of seeing others improve. And that is what can make the role such a memorable part of your career evolution.

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Brian Lange, blange@perim.com, is with Perim Consulting and serves as lead facilitator for LTEN PrimeTime! For Trainers Core and Masters Workshops. Find blogs, tweets and more at Perim.com.

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