The bottom line: buyer behavior and sophistication are evolving faster than sales competency. Compound these changes by the fact that many organizations have been investing less in training in the last five years and it’s easy to understand why companies are struggling to deliver meaningful sales growth.
The good news? Investment in training is coming back, across industries and departments. Now, the question I hear is: How can I plan sales training that provides the best possible return on investment?
Based on my own experience, here are 5 keys to consider for sales training effectiveness.
- Set expectations. Training isn’t an event, it’s a process. Training requires an ongoing investment, both from sales leaders and producers. Sales training only makes an impact if salespeople make a commitment to incorporate the learning into their daily practices. Establishing that understanding as a baseline expectation and working to reinforce best practices consistently is important.
- Customize content. The training content and curriculum need to align with existing sales methodology and practices. They should take into consideration all of the nuances, existing metrics, challenges and opportunities specific to your own unique selling situation. Conduct thorough due diligence, whether you’re preparing your own curriculum or hiring an outside training partner. Begin with your goal outcomes in mind. And consider:
- Many producers have short attention spans. They will shut down quickly when they don’t think the content is going to help them improve.
- The best producers would rather be in the field. Respect the fact that training cuts into valuable selling time.
- Find out when the curriculum was designed. The sales competency required to compete and win today has changed dramatically in the last few years. What you’re teaching has to align with what your individual performers need to impact the business.
- Content needs to be actionable. People should be able to leave room and immediately do something different that helps provide a better result.
- Prepare for success. Make sure everyone is prepared to get the most out of the time invested. It may help to assign pre-work so that producers can assess their biggest challenges, opportunities and skill gaps. It also can help elevate engagement and participation in the room.
- Reinforce the learning over time. When the training is over, it’s your chance to start incorporating the ideas and best practices you discussed. What can you immediately put into practice –today? Changes in thinking happen over time, so leaders need to provide ongoing reinforcement. We provide our client partners with supporting content (articles, videos, exercises) that can be leveraged in follow up to training. This serves to reinforce learning, support behavior change and create a culture of accountability where good habits and best practices are clearly understood and consistently acted upon by the sales organization.
- Have fun. The best sales organizations have fun beating the competition. Make training an enjoyable experience for the team. Build in a little healthy competition with incentives. Celebrate and socialize success. Audit the losses so that everyone is learning from what is working and what isn’t.
The best sales organizations create a culture of continuous learning. The best producers want to be a little bit better tomorrow than they were today. Putting new ideas into practice and measuring the impact is the best way to ensure the best possible ROI from any training investment.
Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.