I was waiting in line at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription the other day, and there was a rotating book display within reach. I took it for a spin and was surprised that of the majority of the books on the rack were adult coloring books. There were a few other things as well, but mostly there were coloring books of flowers, birds, buildings, or other intricate designs. A lot of my friends have gotten into this craze and seeing these books right in front of me I decided it was time to try it. So, along with my prescription, I walked out of the pharmacy with my first coloring book since childhood.
Once I spent some time coloring, I realized there were several lessons to be learned from it that could be applied to training sales representatives. Here are 5 of them I came up with:
1. Everything doesn’t need to be high-tech.
Like many people, I spend a lot of time on my devices — computer, smartphone, iPod etc. Sometimes it feels like I am always “plugged in”. I couldn’t imagine how low-tech coloring could compete with all the energy, excitement, and information I find in my devices, and yet it did. Coloring was mesmerizing! I realized that I didn’t need bells, whistles, and buttons to find the value in something. As you develop training and look at activities for your workshops, don’t get caught up in all the “high tech hustle”. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great high-tech training solutions, but there are also some really valuable and effective low-tech ones as well. Sometimes, all you need is a flipchart and markers!
2. Use the right tools.
The coloring book I bought came with some colored pencils. As I started to get into it I looked online and found that I could buy a variety of colored pencils, pens, crayons, and markers with different tips and shades all made specifically for adult coloring. Use the right tools when you are training your sales representatives and make sure they know how and when to use them as well. There are times when a point can be made about results from a study by showing a sales aid, but those same results could be discussed in greater depth when using the clinical reprint (or carrier). Using the right tools at the right time with each customer helps sales representatives build their credibility.
3. Be creative while staying in the lines.
Even though the outline of the picture on each page is the same, the way each person colors it can be very different. Everyone chooses the colors they like and yet the picture only appears if they stay within the lines. This concept can be a metaphor for sales representatives when we are speaking about promotional messages and our communications with HCPs. There are specific lines we have to stay within at all times to be compliant, but each of us has our own personalities, and each HCP we speak with is an individual. No one wants a robotic sales representative any more than they want to color every picture exactly the same. So be you; just stay within the lines.
4. It’s ok to make mistakes.
I am not a great artist. But the more I colored the better I got. Not every page was a masterpiece, especially at the beginning of the book. As I continued, my coloring got better. Continuing the metaphor we can use in training with sales representatives, most people won’t be fantastic at something the first time they do it. This is why we have so many opportunities to verbalize in workshops; it allows for practice, growth, and improvement. It is better to make the mistakes in practice than with the customer.
5. Have fun!
Yes, I enjoyed coloring and it was fun! It brought me back to a simpler time and I was able to relax, unwind, and have a good time while enhancing my creativity. When I think about training sales representatives, there are some people who think that training shouldn’t be fun and others who focus more on the fun than on the training. I don’t think either of those is ideal, rather there needs to be a balance, provided there is solid learning taking place. In training, the primary focus is to have sound learning objectives and ensure that a “transfer of knowledge” or skill takes place. If that can happen while people are engaged and enjoying themselves, all the better. So take a page from coloring, and provided you have a clear picture of what your objectives are, it’s great to make it engaging.This was my coloring adventure and these are the lessons I found in it and can apply to training sales representatives. What do you think?