How to Choose the RIGHT Sales Training & Development Program – Part 1
According to a 2018 article by the Association of Talent Development, US organizations annually spent an average of $1,459 per salesperson in sales training, more than 20% greater than those same organizations spent on workers in other functions. Historically, sales training has consistently been an organization’s most significant training investment area. Some organizations spend more or less per salesperson, and daily training costs can range from under $100 to more than $3000 per sales employee.
Everything’s Changing in a Short Time!
Just five years ago Pharrell Williams was making everyone Happy while moviegoers rated Whiplash and Selma as the top films of the year. Since then we’ve undergone numerous changes in the economy, world leaders, hair styles, automobiles, addresses, jobs, careers, vehicles, and more.
In fact, the only thing that hasn’t changed is that everything continues to change, including the solutions you sell, the markets you serve, and the way your ideal customers are buying.
Key question: has your organization’s sales training and development program kept pace with these ongoing changes?
The purpose of this article is to provide you with some objective criteria for assuring you the highest possible ROI on your sales training investment. In Part 1 we’ll explore why the right sales training program is the best investment you can make. In Part 2 we’ll identify the characteristics you should require before making your next sales training investment.
Why the Right Sales Training is a Brilliant Investment
The right sales training should self-fund in a matter of weeks or months. Sales organizations (and organizations as a whole) build their operating budgets based on hitting certain revenue objectives. The right sales training programs accelerate revenues and raise profit margins, thus paying for themselves outright in weeks or months. A good program should deliver an ROI of at least ten times cost. Truly effective programs can result in ROIs exceeding one-hundred times cost.
For example, implementing a six month sales training program three months into your fiscal year can easily pay for itself several times over in the year it is run, then deliver more sales increases year-to-year-to-year as members of the sales team master the skills and knowledge they have learned.
The right sales training will help you attract and retain sales talent. Traditionally, staff turnover in sales roles runs higher than for other positions. Since 2017, annual employee turnover has exceeded thirty percent per year and should do so again in 2019. Two significant drivers of turnover, especially for Millennials and Gen Z, are:
1. Feeling there is nothing more to learn in one’s current role, and
2. Seeking improved compensation.
Sales training has been shown to reduce both turnover drivers.
Moreover, job seekers are attracted to organizations that demonstrate a commitment to ongoing professional development. People want employers who keep them green and growing.
The right sales training will keep you selling in the new and emerging ways buyers want to buy. Buyers don’t buy in the ways they used to buy, which explains why some sales organizations have seen declining results from their selling efforts. Two years ago I posted an article on how the buyer’s journey changed during the prior five years. And the model continues to evolve today.
If your sales training is keeping pace with the way prospects and customers are buying, you and your team will gain an advantage over organizations that sell like it’s still 1999.
The right sales training will unify and align your sales team. When people attend a relevant and effective shared learning experience, bonding and teambuilding naturally occur. Salespeople deal with lots of rejection and at times feel like they are out there alone. A well-designed learning experience precipitates the exchange of ideas and approaches so that participants can learn from each other as well as from the program facilitator. Peer relationships are formed, built, and strengthened in the classroom, and then carried out to the field where peers can discuss ideas, encourage each other, and share the nuances of putting what was learned into action.
Sales managers can also foster alignment around learned best practices, helping sales staff members move from learning to mastery, and sharing stories of how the best practices are applied.
The right sales training will foster a culture of continuous improvement. The effectiveness of a sales training program is measured both in results produced as well as behaviors changed. A properly designed program that is delivered over time will encourage a continuous learning, continuous improvement mindset.
Nothing succeeds like success! When sales people become more effective because they’ve applied what they learned, they are encouraged to continue learning so they keep on adding to their results.
The right sales training will balance individuality with common, consistent methodology. Top salespeople are highly talented and their personal effectiveness often relies on leveraging their own unique set of talents and capabilities. In other words, their individuality is a key to their success. Force them to replace their individuality with a homogeneous one-size-fits-all approach and they’ll likely disengage in the short term and leave in the longer term.
On the other hand, there is merit in using standard tools and methods in which all team members participate. Just imagine the chaos if each sales professional on your team had their own CRM system and what that would do to limiting your team.
The right sales training program will promote the best of both worlds, teaching concepts and principles rather than step-by-step formulas. It blends technology with natural talent, shared methods with individual strengths, and specific outcomes with personal ownership.
Sales training cannot be a one-size-fits-all proposition if it is to be the best investment your organization makes this year. Carefully choosing the right program will provide you with a ten to one hundred times ROI, and improves your organization’s competitive position in the ever-challenging marketplace. Choose wisely!
I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:
- Improving your (or your team’s) management and leadership skills: Leading Through People™
- Raising your (or your team’s) selling effectiveness: B2B Sales Essentials™
- Conducting a more effective job search: Get a Better Job Faster™
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