You Need Sales Training – Now What?
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “sales training”, or when someone says they need to provide sales training for their team? When it comes to training there is probably no other corporate function that sees more varieties and providers than sales. A recent Google search on the exact phrase “sales training” turns up 1,940,000 options. So how do you figure out what kind of training both the organization and the sales executives really need?
When we get calls about training we often find (especially when its the president, HR head, or other non-sales executive calling) that little critical analysis has been done to identify what the real sales problems are. In firms where there’s a strong sales culture or sales manager it is likely that some diagnosis has been done in determining the kind of training and vendor needed. But for firms where this isn’t the case, the call we get may be one of too many that the firm is making to solve its problems.
The Collaborative has identified 32 areas of sales skill that are crucial to sales success. Examples include: advancing the sale, analysis and problem assessment, buy-cycle management, closing, communication, competitive positioning, cost justification/return on investment analysis, creating a sense of urgency in the sales cycle, cross-selling additional products, customer service orientation, gaining referrals, handling rejection, cold calling, intelligent territory management,—and the list goes on! The point is that the main problem areas must be identified to help narrow the field from 1,940,000 options and determine what vendor can serve you best.
Your obstacles to sales success may lie not just with sales skills however. Many organizations have broken processes around sales or other organizational dysfunction that abets selling problems. Examples include compensation, marketing communications (or the lack thereof), prospect-to-client handoff processes (sales to client service) and sales support systems. A vendor that’s wholly focused on sales training may “solve” the wrong problem for you, and thus if you have information suggesting firm-wide problems you’ll want to focus on vendors who have shown expertise in these areas as well.
Regardless of the specific problem areas identified, a real key to training success is reinforcement and ongoing coaching. Many vendors provide only one-time classes, and while attendees may come away with “nuggets” they find valuable, the lack of reinforcement usually means the learnings are quickly forgotten. Ask the vendor what their process is for reinforcement and if they offer any coaching support, be it by phone or meetings. Ask to speak to client references who have had your problems—and ask for only those who used the vendor a year ago or more—to see how well the teaching stuck!