What’s The BIGGEST Question Sales Managers Are Asking About Sales Training?
As one sales professional to another, it would be preaching to the choir to discuss here the importance of training to be your most effective and polished. But I do want to bring up one point that every salesperson, including managers, needs to deal with at some point in their careers. Upper level executives, especially those in finance and accounting, tend to ask this question when it’s budget time and expenses need cut – If we stop training our sales force, will they stop selling?
The short answer is, obviously, no. But there’s a lot of grey area around the necessity of training that brings up an even more important issue.
The real million-dollar question should be: How can we make sales training more effective?
A study conducted by the group Sales For Life in the United States surveyed CSOs to find out what improvements they wanted from an investment in training for their sales force. One third (34.9%) said they were unsure. With that kind of ambiguity over how to measure the ROI companies get for their training dollars, sales professionals have a difficult time justifying the training they truly need.
So the quandary is not whether training is necessary, but rather if the training is effective. A report by Sales Performance International found that almost half of the content in a multi-day sales course is lost to participants within 5.1 weeks after training. They also found that an average of 84% of content is lost after 90 days. With that kind of ROI, it’s no wonder training expenses can be found on the cutting block.
Here are 4 ways to ensure that your training is effective and that your sales force retains what they’ve learned long afterwards:
1. Find highly targeted training
Find a training company that’s willing to invest time in learning about your business to design training around your company and its particular issues and training priorities. Targeted training developed with your salespeople’s concerns and issues in mind is more effective than off-the-shelf, one size fits all training. When you have hundreds of salespeople in an auditorium, a training presenter is hard-pressed to make the content personal, but that’s what you want for your training dollars. Those big, multi-day sales training conventions can be a waste of time.
2. Identify training that focuses on skills application
You want your sales force to experience real-life application of skills being acquired. Whether that’s through role-playing or team activities, you want training that gets your salesperson interacting and learning through doing, rather than rote memorization. A training company should be willing to customize the content in ways that your salespersons experience real skills application in situations they’ll face in the field.
3. Use natural abilities to learn
Rather than force-feed your salespeople techniques and tricks that are unnatural and sometimes damaging, find training that identifies each individual’s natural sales style and uses that to build on skills and habits that are effective and authentic. Customers and prospects can smell a fake from a mile away, so always go with training that encourages your salespersons to be themselves, only better.
4. Back up training with micro learning
Identify training sources that have follow-on learning modules, whether that’s through weekly podcasts, emails, phone calls, or some sort of short, but sweet reinforcement. TED Talks does micro learning brilliantly with their 15-minute segments from professionals and thought leaders. Training shouldn’t stop after a one-day intensive; it should continue in some form over several months afterwards. This will work to entrench effective habits without overwhelming your sales force with an information dump.
To train or not to train isn’t the question. To be effective is. Do some due diligence and find a training company that meets at least these 4 requirements and can back up their claims with proven results for other companies. An effective training course for your sales staff should be able to identify the KPIs you want out of training and show you measurable proof that those KPIs were met or exceeded.
If you want to explore highly targeted, effective sales training programmes for your sales force, contact one of our experts to see how we can take each member of your company’s sales force and transform them into a Natural Super Star.
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