In the aftermath of lockdowns due to the pandemic, a clear sales training trend has emerged. Rather than in-depth “point-in-time” training, we’re seeing a move toward continuous sales training. Modern selling skills take time and practice to master. As a result, sales training engagements frequently span a year or more.
More than half of people in sales don’t have the right skills to be successful. But making an investment in your sales force will benefit the bottom line later. According to a recent ATD report, 84 percent of organizations felt sales training helped them meet their sales goals.
When your organization supports continual learning through sales training, innovation happens, processes transform, and positive change is inspired.
A Successful Sales Training Program Includes These Elements1. Skills assessment. Successful sales leaders take time to uncover the gaps in their organizations and build sales development processes. Rather than relying on intuition, data-driven assessment as a precursor to your sales training will study your team’s productivity and performance so you can truly understand their competencies. It also gives you the opportunity to stop and consider if you have the right people in the right roles with the right skills to get you where you need to go as a business. By conducting an evaluation before you launch your new sales training initiative, you’ll know what type of sales training to invest in rather than guess what might work.
2. Business success measures. Determine your key business success measures you want to be working toward. Each business outcome will have a sales skill tied to it (for example, relationship building or closing). Have your team bring actual opportunities to the table, such as capturing data up front in a survey tool that can track ROI so a sales pro can see that if they invest time in the training, their commission and sales will be successful. Remember, the connection between sales learning activities and the sales process must be there or else the sales process won’t be applied or measured at the individual level consistently. To learn more about shaping the sales career path, listen to this ATD sales enablement podcast.
3. Support from the top. Leadership support can make or break any training program. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, when bosses are more engaged and actively show clear support of their employees’ development, participants report that they get more value from the training. In the case of sales training, ensure there is support at the highest levels of the company—that may be the CEO, managing partner, or chief growth officer.
4. Ongoing coaching and advisory with sales leadership. Did you know the typical sales manager is only in their role between 18 and 24 months? If you consider the average replacement cost of 150 to 200 percent of an employee’s annual salary, the impact on the bottom line can be startling. This disruption can also trickle down through the ranks. Poor management is still a top reason people leave jobs. When you make decisions about your sales training program, include a management skill component. Your coaching model should connect the application of required skills from the various learning programs and the sales process. The biggest leverage point is empowering sales leaders to take on a larger coaching role with their teams. When this happens, it helps the sales leader to step out of day-to-day deal managing and help their team members reach their goals.
5. Hybrid training approach. Most sales experts advocate for a live, interactive component of sales training. Also, consider a digital reinforcement—online sales modules, videos, even podcasts. These are resources your team can turn to over and over again. Combine the live training and digital reinforcement with point-in-time coaching for sales, and you’re setting the stage for sales success.
6. Technology. Having the right tools, most notably a customer relationship management (CRM) system, is integral to a sales enablement strategy. A CRM is the centralized tool where your relationships, opportunities, and metrics are managed. Of course, the tool is pointless if your team isn’t using it. Make sure your training includes specifics regarding your organization’s sales process.