<i>Dear Workforce</i> Why Won’t Our Salespeople Attend A Seminar

November 21, 2001
QDear Workforce:

Can we require our salespeople to attend a two-day seminar aimed at improvingsales techniques and boosting their overall sales? The company is paying for allexpenses, but none of our salespeople want to attend.

- Flummoxed Human ResourcesCoordinator,publishing/communication/advertising, Cedar Falls, Iowa.

A Dear Flummoxed:

Career and skill development is a two-way street, and both the employer andthe employee need to take responsibility for it. Your organization is offering adevelopment and learning opportunity, but your employees are not interested. Theimportant question to ask isn't whether you can require the seminar; rather, whyaren't your salespeople interested?

This is a chance to have an exploratory discussion with your sales force tounderstand what it considers valid learning opportunities to be. You did notmention whether your employees receive commission for their sales. Often whenthat is the case, paying for the seminar and accommodations is not enough. Yoursalespeople may feel they are losing valuable time that could be better utilizedby making sales calls. Perhaps if you offer to compensate them for the value ofany lost commission, they will not see the overnight stay as a roadblock toperformance.

The overnight stay might make the seminar unattractive for another reason:The issue of childcare. In most families today, both parents work; therefore,the responsibility of childcare rests on each partner equally. It may bedifficult for your employees to arrange for childcare when one parent is awayovernight.

The most important information you need to find out is why your employeesdon't want to attend this particular seminar. You may want to explorealternative programs that do not require an overnight stay. You also should askemployees to suggest development programs they would be interested in attending.Perhaps they'll even have specific seminars in mind.

In any relationship, communication is the key to success. Within yourorganization there is a crucial relationship between decision-makers and thoseaffected by those decisions. The lines of communication should remain open toensure the maximum development of both your employees and the organization. Ifeveryone is aware of mutual goals and expectations, you won't have thedisconnection you currently experience.

SOURCE: Kim Rutherford, regional vice president, operations, Drake Beam Morin, Chicago, Illinois, July 17, 2001.

LEARN MORE: See "How to InspireEmployees"

The information contained in this article is intended to provide usefulinformation on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice ora legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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