Sales Training Curriculum Should Be Impactful
You really want sales training curriculum to make a positive and measurable impact. The goal is simple – provide your sales team with the skills, knowledge, motivation and confidence to improve sales revenue, margin, win rate, portfolio mix, deal size, and sales cycle in a way that makes sense for your unique sales strategy, sales culture, and marketplace.
Today’s Sales Training Curriculum
If you spend much time looking around, sales training curriculum today seems like a mess. While sales training content has evolved over time to address a variety of modern-day issues, most business sales training has not changed much over the last twenty-five years. If you are serious about lifting your sales performance, you are probably going to have to tackle a sales training curriculum redesign.
A Sales Training Curriculum Redesign
A curriculum redesign means determining what matters most, reviewing what you have, and filling the key gaps. Done right, your approach to solution selling training should create the competence, motivation, and confidence required for higher sales performance.
How to Proceed
- Ensure 3×3 Relevance
First, every sales training looking to change on-the-job behavior and performance should be highly relevant compared to all other priorities for three key stakeholders: the sales force, sales management, and sales leadership. We call this 3×3 Relevance – without it, our research tells us that your sales training initiative will struggle to get off the ground or to be fully implemented.
What sales metrics are you trying to impact? How relevant is your sales training compared to other business priorities?
- Set the Stage for Adoption
New sales skills, knowledge, and behaviors must be consistently adopted by at least 50% of your sales force and most of your high performers for the new ways to get traction. Without on-the-job application, a disconnect will occur between your sales learning objectives (sales skills and knowledge) and sales performance objectives (desired sales results). Without sales skill adoption, both behavior change and sales performance improvement will languish.
Have you created the environment required to reinforce sales skill adoption and measure sales impact? Are managers equipped to provide frequent and effective sales coaching for the new approach to sales?
- Clarify Learning Objectives and Core Content Areas
Once your business goals are clear and agreed upon with your key stakeholders and you are willing to invest in reinforcing the new ways, it is time to prioritize learning objectives and the context in which they occur. From our experience, too many sales training practitioners start at this step. That is a mistake.
To make an impact, each learning objective must be tied to a sales priority that matters to the sales force, sales management, and sales leadership. And desired learning outcomes must be designed with a context that matters. Without context, it is almost impossible to design the right amount of practice, feedback, and sales support tools.
What objectives and content matter most for your unique environment and offering? What moments of truth are critical to get it right for your target buyers? How will participants prove they have mastered the new skills and knowledge?
- Define Your Approach
Based upon your desired outcomes, decide which training modality will be most effective for your sales team. Some sales situations work better with a prescriptive model where they progress from mastering one level to moving on to the next. Other teams thrive using a model where they self-select modules according to their personal development needs and plan.
- Review and Sort Current Content to Identify Gaps
Pull together all your existing sales training content, sales materials, and sales support tools. Sift through it all to determine what material aligns with current needs, what needs to be tossed, and where gaps exist. Be ruthless. This is your chance to clean out sales training content that is no longer relevant or is too dated.
- Build or Buy New Content
This is where you get to be innovative. Employ the latest proven methods of effective training – pre-work, practice, role plays, simulations, action learning, experiential learning, support tools, coaching etc. – for the kind of sales training that sticks because it is immediately relevant, applicable, and reinforced.
- Test and Tweak
Assemble groups of your target audience to make sure you are addressing real issues in a way that hits home. Gather feedback, adjust as needed, deploy, and measure progress.
The Bottom Line
When you have new strategies, situations, and challenges, the old sales curriculum probably won’t cut it. Are you reevaluating your sales training approach on a regular basis to be sure it is relevant and on target? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to truly boost the productivity of your sales team.
To learn more about how to update your sales training curriculum, download The 6 Top Reasons Business Sales Training Initiatives Fail