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Simple Ways to Keep Sales Training Relevant and Valuable

Thursday, March 7, 2019
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One of the many ways that sales enablement provides consistent support to the salesforce is through ongoing maintenance of tools and resources—chief among them being the sales training library. In doing so, sales enablement teams will routinely scan the landscape of training topics and offerings and then often ask, “What’s new?” That question is understandable. The sales profession is quickly evolving in response to a changing marketplace. Likewise, buyer savviness continues to increase, which requires salespeople to adapt their approaches.

Relevance Protects Investment

Most sales leaders are keenly aware of these change factors and many are willing to invest heavily to ensure their frontline team of salespeople are skilled and ready to meet new challenges as they emerge. In fact, of all departments within a typical organization, sales is often the one group most likely to make bullish investments in learning and development year over year. ATD’s 2019 State of Sales Training cites the average annual expenditure on sales training is $287,165 (median = $100,000), with the average sales training expenditure per salesperson being $2,326 (median = $1,000).

While actual investment is important, adoption is even more critical. Consider that the same study also found that one of the top barriers to sales training adoption, according to 59 percent of respondents, is that salespeople in their organization were not held accountable for applying the skills they learn in training. Short of establishing and tracking a full slate of formal accountability measures, the onus is on sales enablement to ensure the quality and usefulness of the learning content. In other words, sales training has to be seen as so valuable that salespeople actually want to use it.

With this in mind, maintaining the relevancy of sales training may be a genuinely important pursuit for sales enablement teams—which also may be a deviation from prior tendencies to simply expand the curriculum by adding more content. Instead, when existing content gets a makeover or is properly curated and served up with fresh context, it extends its shelf life and increases the likelihood that salespeople will tap into it when they need help to win deals. The following recommendations will help increase relevancy.

1. Create a case study that highlights skills. Write a short case study based on recent wins and highlight skills or best practices performed by the sales professional that led to success. Hyperlink to articles, videos, or resources so that the learner can hover and click to learn more about a particular skill.

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2. Share pitch videos. Identify two to three salespeople who are particularly good at an elevator pitch for your company’s value proposition. Professionally record two-minute videos and distribute them to the sales team. Provide a template they can use to create a pitch inspired by the videos, using language that is their own.

3. Make the link. Go through the sales training library and pull assets together, grouping them by sales stage. Use the CRM and view current sales opportunities by salesperson or team. Proactively send videos or resources (such as discovery questions) for just-in-time learning. If possible, cite the actual prospect or client name to make the link.

4. Create an essentials video series. Survey sales managers to understand the top three to five current skills deficits. Create short videos that provide one or two key behaviors to address. Bundle the videos and distribute to the sales team as their first stop for quick learning.

5. Host a virtual lunch-and-learn. Each month, host an interview-style lunch-and-learn where sales enablement interviews a salesperson who recently closed a particularly challenging deal. Explore issues, setbacks, and strategies, and through questioning drill down to specifics so others can learn.

6. Pare it down. Review older classes and courses that are traditionally lengthy and mine them for key nuggets and insights. Portion up the feast into snackable learning, pair with fresh visuals, and redistribute to the sales team.

While these ideas will provide a strong start, work with sales managers and other colleagues within sales enablement to formalize a plan to continually review and refresh sales training to ensure relevancy. Doing so will position sales enablement as a good steward of the organization’s investment in sales training and increase the chances of actual adoption.

About the Author

Dayna has been consulting with Fortune 1000 firms on talent development and performance initiatives since 2006. She specializes in both instructional design strategy and in sales training. Throughout her career, Dayna has worked with hundreds of clients in Financial Services, Insurance, Technology, Hospitality, Pharmaceuticals, and Professional Services. Dayna has served on various non-profit boards, most recently as the President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Philadelphia Chapter, where she is currently a board advisor. She is also a thought contributor and author for ATD National’s Sales Enablement Community of Practice and has been asked to serve as the programming chairperson for their 2018 and 2019 Sales Enablement Learning and Leadership conference. Dayna has a Graduate Degree in Organizational Change, enjoys mentoring young professionals, and frequently speaks at events around the country.

2 Comments
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I truly agree with providing positive examples that salespeople can learn. Based on experience, people get to learn skills faster because they have a positive model that they can visualize as the model.
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Thanks for sharing. We sometimes get carried away by some of the points mentioned. Relevancy remains the key
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