It shouldn’t be surprising that we spend a lot of time training sales teams and coaching the sales team leaders. Our experience doing it for clients provides much insight into how to get maximum benefit from this kind of help. Here are five elements that must be considered before any money is spent on sales training.

  1. Can sales training be embedded into a repeatable selling system and process within your CRM? Teaching and training won’t stick for most people unless it is embedded in the system they use on an ongoing basis. Asking the right questions and employing the newly learned behaviors are habits that must be formed. By integrating them into the qualifying process, the opportunity stages, and the selling process within the CRM, it will lessen the time it takes to make the newly trained elements second-nature.
  2. Can sales managers become true coaches rather than simply managers and directors? This means coaching for performance and challenging salespeople rather than merely handling deal-specific needs or pricing. It means taking the time, lots of it, to help the individuals on the team master their newly learned skills. It also means helping them practice before they are in the field with prospects and clients. An excellent manager spends fully 50% of his or her time coaching their salespeople. Even if the manager is not a master at coaching, more time is better. Refer to this article to see the stats associated with this claim.
  3. Is the compensation plan workable? Create one that incents the behavior you desire and eliminates subjectivity and ambiguity. For instance, if incentives are based off of quota attainment, then quotas cannot be subjective and frivolously set by managers. Otherwise, the opportunity exists for playing favorites. Sure, sales training is important to help develop skills, but an outdated and ineffective sales compensation plan can derail the investment in training. Either the disenfranchised salesperson will leave or become complacent and the training dollars spent go down the drain.
  4. Are you ready to make improved selling skills and behaviors part of an individual’s development plan? We might want to think that every salesperson is completely motivated to become the best salesperson they can, and therefore will take away and apply the skills and principles taught through training. Unfortunately, there is this thing called the Forgetting Curve, which causes salespeople to forget what they’ve learned if there is no attempt to practice and/or retain the information. Any investment in training needs to carry an expectation that each individual will improve in specific and measurable ways. Make it a collaborative effort with each salesperson to identify what those improvements will be.
  5. Is the whole salesperson being addressed, not just their selling skillset but also their selling mindset? Too frequently sales trainers are “natural-born salespeople” who are good at demonstrating what to do and good at telling others how to conduct a sales conversation. And they make it look so effortless. Salespeople sit in training and want to believe they can mimic the master. They might even be able to do it for some role-play sessions. Sadly, though, if only the tactical components are addressed in training (they are only told what to do, what to say, and how to say it), salespeople may not be able to execute in the field or on the phone by themselves. Too often the salespeople may not have the confidence to execute like the trainer does. Even if they may want to do it, they may be too concerned with how the other party will take it – not wanting to come across as pushy or too salesy, for example. They try to perform as instructed and they can’t. So, guess what? They feel worse about themselves, lose more confidence, and get caught up in their own head, which prevents them from effectively changing and growing as a salesperson.

If your organization is ready to embrace and get behind all these elements, it is ready to make the best use of sales training. Let us know if we can show you the way. Just send me an email.