RIP: Sales Training


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You just hung up from your weekly forecast call. Numbers don’t look good. Your team is going to be short again this quarter. You call a sales manager strategy meeting. “We need to figure out what we can do now to make the number.” Pipeline reviews, strategy sessions, forecasting analysis and sales training are all mentioned. Some of these work. Traditional sales training does not.

Sales TrainingSales rep development is important. Sales training is a form of their development. But unless used as described below, the traditional way no longer works. This is known as the event based training meeting. The ‘event’ usually happens in some sort of regional or national meeting. Everyone sits in a room while an instructor teaches people how to ‘overcome objections.’ The instructor gets everyone excited. It feels like kickoff at a football game. The training ends at 4 PM and everyone rushes to the airport to ‘get out of Dodge.’ The enthusiasm dies. According to the SEC, four weeks later 88% are not using the content. Some even forget they were there.

Money and time are wasted. There is no lift in revenue. Somebody at corporate is mad because there was no real ROI. And the buck always stops with you, the Sales VP.

Sales VPs spend money on sales training because it has been sold as a quick fix. There is no quick fix to sales effectiveness problems. Sales training can help if it is used in part of a complete solution. If you do decide, utilize these three points below to get a ROI:

1. Buyer Centric Content:

Sales training content is written from a sales rep view and off the shelf. Customers don’t ‘overcome objections’. They mitigate risks. They don’t want you to ask 57 questions during ‘discovery’ stage in your process. Clients have already been on the web researching you and your stuff. Their self-directed buying has them already solving their problem before you show up. Content needs to be written with the buyer in mind. Help sales reps match with the customer’s buying process. Train them how to use social media to prospect. Teach them how to adapt to every member of their specific buying decision team. Make it relevant to help them sell more stuff now.

2. Multiple Ways to Learn:

Teaching the content needs to reach across several types of methods. Traditional Sales VPs like events. “I want to look everyone in the face” is what we hear. This might be effective at the time of the session. But it is not effective the next day back in the field. Smart companies use delivery tools like:

  • Pod casts
  • 3 minute Videos
  • Interactive webinars
  • Testing and quizzes
  • Real and virtual role plays
  • ¾ day events with 75% of the session interacting

Mix it up for them. The mobile phone has made their attention spans small. Make it fun and real. They will learn something they can use today.

3. Formal Adoption and Reinforcement Plan:

This is the most important part of the training. 75% of your time needs to be spent in the adoption. The good adoption program has multiple reinforcement methods. Three of the six are mentioned below.

Download the Sales Training Adoption Program here to get the rest of the program. We have done 80% of the work for you. Modify it for your training content, company and sales force.

Sales Training Adoption Program

  • Sales VP Regular Communication: You begin with the initial support and objective of the training. Then this is followed up every week with quick win reinforcement. You speaking about it consistently will drive its adoption. This is the biggest mistake Sales VPs make. Not supporting the content and training and discuss it everyday.
  • Deal Reviews: These are most important component of the reinforcement plan. The content comes alive with the individual as you discuss a live deal. Adoption really happens when we ‘practice’ with a live opportunity. It is no longer ‘practice.’
  • Sales Manager Team Meetings: This is the second important component of an Adoption Plan. This is where the content comes alive with the team. Smaller groups facilitate better collaboration. That is the key to discuss findings, local wins and challenges. And these challenges can lead to changes in the content to make it work locally.

sales adoption plan

Facing Sales Problems are common. What solutions you use to correct them are not. Proper Sales Training can be effective when implemented properly. Use the below techniques to have sales training help solve your problem.

  • Evaluate the team’s tenure. The older your sales team the more sales training they have completed. You might have to start with an event for this group. But quickly get them comfortable with new delivery and media teaching methods.
  • Design and Document the Entire Training Plan. Don’t make it up as you go. Be sure to document the full effort. Ask yourself some of these questions:
    • What content should you create?
    • How will you create the content?
    • What delivery methods will you use?
    • What timeframe?
    • How will the adoption program work?
    • How long will you reinforce before it becomes habit?
  • Talk the Talk: You own it first. Assign every single manager on your team with a different ownership task. This is your one chance to embed the content in your team. The sales managers will execute it so support them consistently with the reps.

The proven methods above will have a successful training program. It will drive the right results over time. And it will become adopted and not just the quick fix to the problem.

Download the Sales Training Adoption Program here.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dan Perry
Dan is an industry thought leader with more than 25 years of experience in b-to-b field sales, sales management, and sales operations. Dan has delivered domestic and international results for companies such as Hewlett Packard, Terremark Worldwide, Dow Jones, Activant Solutions, Kronos, CDS Global, Microsemi.


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