Does Sales Training Really Work?
It’s a weighted question, and the answer depends on who you ask.
Far too often, sales managers will give “lip service” to sales training, but never really do what’s required to make it worth the time and effort.
Merely “checking the box” and providing a once a year training event is simply not enough. Both sales reps and managers must perceive training as an integral component to the culture of the organization, and not something that’s “optional” or “extra.”
For sales training to really make an impact, it needs to be: personalized, ongoing, actionable, and supported by a coach.
Because training is about changing behavior.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re training for a marathon or learning a new skill, training means you’re changing your habits and activities in order to reach a specific goal.
To help you make the most of your training efforts, we’ve outlined 3 tips to help you do just that:
Establish a Clear Objective.
What do you want to accomplish through training?
In the bestselling book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Dr. Stephen Covey’s second habit says, “Begin with the end in mind.”
Where is this journey going to take us and how will we know when we get there?
Clearly defining and stating the objective of sales training to all involved parties is absolutely essential. It’s important to be very specific about how you’re describing your goals too.
Broad descriptors such as “get better” or “improved performance” are too vague and subjective. Instead, create goals such as “increase the number of first appointments you have per week” or “make sure you have X number of prospects/opportunities in pipeline stage 1”.
What’s measured is managed. When you have a clear objective and metric to measure your progress against, it’s a lot easier to stay committed and on track.
Customize Frequency and Timing of Training
When encouraging behavior change, also consider frequency and timing.
What’s the cadence of training delivery? Once per week? Per month? Per quarter?
Your team has unique needs and learning styles, customize your implementation to optimize the nature of your delivery methods and frequency.
You may consider intertwining two types of learning: Macro-and Micro-learning engagements.
Macro learning includes deadlines that create accountability to complete advanced preparation. Microlearning is delivered in small pieces and allows flexibility for learners to revisit topics in which they need more practice.
Another important consideration is what kind of competing priorities are present during the training timeframe? Are there organizational changes happening? Or quarterly business reviews that will interfere with learning?
For example, training reinforcement might come through learners’ phones at times they schedule for themselves.
When possible, shifting the learning responsibility to the learner, to allow them to schedule and train themselves “on-demand” helps to minimize distraction and increases the likelihood of completing the training.
Get Managers Involved
Coaching suggests it is the skill and art of helping someone improve their performance and reach their full potential, as defined by Dan McCarthy from The Balance in a recent article.
Dan continues by discussing coaching skills as either directive or non-directive.
Directive skills include:
- Giving Feedback
- Offering Suggestions
Non-directive skills include:
- Asking Questions
These are two very different types of skillsets but both extremely important for making an impact with training.
Great managers and coaches know how and when to ask the right question at the right time. They know how to get their team to focus and be accountable by inspiring them to come up with their own solutions.
There’s no denying the effectiveness of sales manager involvement. Coaching is essential to growing and nurturing a team of sales professionals.
Effective sales training doesn’t just happen…it needs to be clearly defined, seriously committed to with adequate resources and custom implementation plan as well as taking action on getting each and every manager involved and engaged in coaching.
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About Steve Bookbinder
Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.