Are You Getting the Payoffs of Effective Sales Training Programs?
On average, companies invest $1,500 per salesperson in business sales training to improve B2B sales skills. Unfortunately, most sales leaders are not seeing direct sales performance improvement in terms of increased revenue, improved margins, higher win-rates, or decreased cycle times. Our research shows that:
- 80% of the information from sales training is lost within three months
- Only 1-in-5 sales training participants change their on-the-job behavior and performance from standalone sales training
- Less than 20% of sales leaders rate their current sales training programs as highly effective
If you are among the 80% of sales managers who acknowledge that their consultative sales training programs do not deliver the desired sales results , evaluate your current programs against the traits of sales training that actually accomplish desired business goals.
5 Traits of Effective Sales Training Programs
- A Clear Go-to-Market Sales Strategy
Too many companies roll out sales training before they have a clear, agreed to, and implementable go-to-market sales strategy. Our organizational alignment research found that a clear sales strategy accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing sales teams. This makes sense to us.
How can you expect your sales team to improve performance if your target market, ideal target client, value proposition, and game plan for success is unclear or at odds with how work gets done? If you want to get a meaningful return on sales training investments, make sure that your sales strategy is set up to succeed before you teach your sales team how to sell within it.
- A Healthy, High Performing, and Aligned Sales Culture
Once your sales strategy is clear enough, your next step is to ensure that your sales culture is healthy, high performing, and aligned enough with your sales strategy. Because your sales strategy must go through your sales culture to get successfully executed, unhealthy, ambiguous, or misaligned sales cultures negatively impact sales performance.
It does not do much good to teach people new sales skills if how people think, behave, and work (within and outside the sales team) gets in the way. Do not underestimate the impact of sales culture if you want to increase sales performance.
- Full Support of Executives
Too many training initiatives fail because they lack true buy-in from executives who waver in their commitment by what they say and what they do. To change employees’ on-the-job behavior and performance, executives must model and reinforce the new ways while ensuring that people have the time, incentives, resources, funds, and bandwidth to learn, practice, get feedback, reflect, and improve.
If leaders and managers are not on board, neither will your sales team.
- Customization and Alignment of Content
If off-the-shelf and online sales training worked, sales teams would be consistently meeting and exceeding quota and customer expectations. Sadly, research over the last 5 years shows that most buyers are disappointed by sellers and more than half of sellers miss quota year-after-year.
Quickly changing and nuanced buyer expectations cannot be met by mass-produced sales training. To ensure that the way you sell is aligned with the expectations of your marketplace, sales organizations must identify the key moments of truth during the buying process and customize how their sales team can best help their clients succeed in a way that makes sense. Only then can you identify, measure, close, and reinforce the sales skills gaps that matter most to your sales strategy, to your customers, and to the challenges your sales reps face day-by-day.
- Learning by Doing, Coaching, and Accountability
Our research found that high quality stand-alone sales training only changes the behavior and performance of 1-in-5 sales reps. Effective sales training programs minimize lectures and maximize interactive learning, practice, reinforcement, and accountability.
Sales skills are built first by awareness and then most effectively by applying the learning through role plays and other team activities that reflect relevant and customized sales scenarios. Real behavioral change requires oversight on sales managers’ part. Sales reps need ongoing sales coaching in the desired behaviors, accountability for results, and rewards or consequences as appropriate.
The Bottom Line
Learn from others’ mistakes. Do not be the sales leader who bemoans the disappointing impact of the sales training. For a sales training program to be successful, align your sales strategy and culture, ensure executive support, customize and align the training to the specific skills needed by your team, and provide plenty of opportunities to practice real-world scenarios supported by follow-on sales coaching and training measurement.
If you liked the 5 Traits of Effective Sales Training Programs, download The Top 6 Reasons Sales Training Programs Fail According to Executives