Research shows that too many sales training programmes are poorly conceived, deliver little impact and are a frustrating experience for sales teams. Yet the best programmes are truly transformational – generating millions of dollars in incremental revenue through improved sales skills, sales strategies and sales management and motivating and inspiring sales teams all over the world.
So what makes a highly successful, transformational sales training programme?
Use this tool to assess your sales training programme. Score your training out of 5 against these 10 drivers of success. It will take no more than 10 minutes. Very few programmes have all ten drivers of success that are described, but the more you have in place, the greater the likelihood of delivering an outstanding and transformational sales training programme.
|Drivers of Success||Transformational programmes look like this….||Transitory programmes look more like this…||Your Score 1 (Transitory) to 5 (Transformational)|
|1. Your sales leadership is totally engaged and supportive of the sales training initiative.|
Key Statistic: 90% of companies with strong learning cultures said that senior executives were actively engaged in L&D initiatives.
|Your senior leaders are right behind the programme. This is demonstrated by their support for funding, attendance on programmes, their demonstration of key skills and behaviours, active participation in design and planning, and prioritisation of training activities.||Your initiative has little more than lukewarm support from senior sales leaders. This is characterised by supportive words, but little in the way of actions that demonstrate commitment or personal responsibility. Leaders do not participate in programmes or demonstrate new behaviours or skills. Their behaviour is mirrored down through the sales organisation, training is de-prioritised in the minds of sales people and the initiative is undermined. You can assess the alignment of your internal stakeholders and whether they view you as a Trusted Advisor with this tool.|
Score yourself 0-5 to move on
|2. You are delivering clear, compelling communications throughout the programme.|
Key Statistic: 56% of employees say that they would spend more time learning if their manager directed them to complete a specific course in order to gain or improve their skills.
|The objectives and ambitions of your sales training programme are both clear and well communicated. Sales teams are energised through carefully planned communications, clear development plans and kick-off meetings. Managers brief their teams before they attend any sales training activities, and follow up with them afterwards.||There is minimal communication around your sales training initiative. Sales teams arrive at sales training with low expectations, and little idea of what is expected of them. Though they may enjoy and get some value from the training, with no sense of purpose or prioritisation there is little ongoing impact.|
|3. Sales managers are the principal catalyst for change and you’ve made sales coaching a priority.|
Key Statistic: Sales Coaching Works.Imparta research shows that sales people who receive consistent quality coaching from their managers outperform those who do not by almost twofold. But three quarters of managers spend less than 5% of their time coaching!
|Your programme has a clear focus on engaging with your sales managers so they drive sustainable change in the sales organisation. You have initiatives in place to help them become an expert in sales management, your sales methodology and actively coaching each of their salespeople. The quality and frequency of coaching is monitored and correlated against performance.||Your sales programme incorporates no specific support for sales managers. As a result they are unclear of what they should be doing differently and are neither encouraged to support the training with coaching, nor do they know how to do so. Without reinforcement from sales managers, the hoped for adoption of new skills and processes is proving disappointing.|
|4. You are embedding an agile, flexible customer focused sales methodology.|
Key Fact: 83% of customers say a salesperson’s ability to adjust sales strategy is a major factor in their purchase decision. Yet those same customers claim that only 12% of salespeople are effective at adjusting their strategies’ Source: VantagePoint.
|Your sales methodology is both customer focused and ‘agile’. It provides skills and tools for all stages of the customer’s buying cycle from new account identification through to post deal implementation. It is agile because it is customer focused and can be applied successfully to all the functions in your sales organisation.||You have different and inconsistent sales methodologies for your various sales roles and departments. There is no common sales language and collaboration across teams is difficult. Your training is more about ‘what you can do’ to get the customer to buy, than understanding their needs and helping them make the right decision.|
|5. You are deploying an effective, varied and compelling set of reinforcement activities.||The design of your sales programme recognises that repetition and reinforcement is key to learning and adoption. Reinforcement is provided through a mix of online activities and resources, manager support, and the incorporation of tools and strategies in day-to-day planning and team meetings. Your core sales training programmes all build on and reinforce a common methodology and sales language that is further reinforced within your CRM system.||Once the training is completed in the classroom or online that is pretty much it. There are no easy to use resources to encourage adoption, or further activities to reinforce the training. The training is barely referred to after its completion. No attempt has been made to bring together the language and activities in your CRM with the sales methodologies you have been training.|
|6. You have planned robust metrics for measuring the impact of your programme.|
Key Statistic: Sales Training Works. A study of 540 companies conducted by the American Society for Training and Development shows that continuous investments in training and reinforcement result in over 50% higher net sales per employee, nearly 40% higher gross profits per employee and a 20% higher ratio in market-to-book value.
|You have planned for metrics to enable you to monitor the success of the programme. These metrics measure everything from delegate satisfaction, skill and knowledge improvement to the ROI of your investment. The metrics enable you to refine and improve the programme, maintain the support of key internal stakeholders, and make requests for ongoing support and investment reasonably straightforward.||There are no metrics in place and you dread the question ‘what have we got for the money we have spent?’ You measure delegate satisfaction after each training activity with simple surveys, but this information does not really feed into improvements in the programme.|
|7. Your programme makes smart and effective use of learning technologies.||You make the most of learning technologies to enhance the learning experience, to gather measurement data, manage communications and deliver tools and reinforcement materials.||There is limited use of learning technologies in your programme, either to enhance the learning or manage and measure the programme, or most importantly to provide post training resources and reinforcement.|
|8. You have taken the time and effort to tailor the training and make it easily applicable to real life accounts.||Your sales training has been designed so that your sales people can apply the skills and knowledge taught directly to the business’ real life account opportunities, challenges, or upcoming major initiatives, such as new product launches. The training is tailored and contextualised to address the market and customer realities your sales people face in each of your markets. Opportunities are given for account teams to have additional ‘deal coaching’ sessions on critical accounts, pitches, or competitive threats. The sales methodology you have adopted is integrated into your CRM and other planning tools, ensuring their application to each and every client and opportunity.||Your sales training is generic training that is not tailored to your business environment or customers. There are few or no opportunities for the skills to be applied to real life opportunities or accounts, and your sales methodology is not integrated into your CRM or sales processes.|
|9. Your programme is supported by comprehensive internal resourcing and project management.||Your project team is sufficiently resourced to deliver an effective and efficient sales development multi-activity and multiyear programme. There are proper project management disciplines in place – either internally or provided by your partner/supplier.||There is insufficient internal resource to properly deliver all the many moving parts that make up an effective sales development programme. Lack of time and budget are restricting what you can achieve, and cost, rather than impact, is dominating decision making.|
|10. Your programme is part of an ongoing, continuous development strategy and not just a one-off training initiative.||Your sales programme is a multiyear programme that underpins your business’ commercial strategy. The programme delivers a clear development plan for each role and level of experience within your sales organisation. There are modules to help develop specific skills such as sales management, negotiation training, and commercial acumen as well as core selling modules that ensure a consistent process and sales language. Your sales people can easily see how their training will help them develop and achieve their career goals.||Your programme is a ‘one-off’ designed to provide ‘some training’ or to fix a problem that has been highlighted but not analysed. It will likely end up as a sticking plaster solution, neither fixing the underlying problem or building a stronger long term capability within the sales organisation.|
Total Score: 0
36-50 – Fantastic. Your programme should be well on the road to delivering transformational sales improvement. You have built-in many of the building blocks of a successful sales training programme and addressed your sales training needs in a comprehensive and meaningful way.
21-35 – Solid. You have some of the building blocks for a successful programme in place but may not yet be delivering a truly transformational programme. Take a look at those success drivers where your scores are low and consider whether these can be better implemented.
0-20 – Eek. You only have a few of the building blocks for success in place and are unlikely to be delivering a truly transformational sales training programme. This may be because your training is deliberately short term, focused on a very current opportunity or challenge, or maybe the context of your organisation (resources, prioritisation) has not allowed you to go further. It would be worth looking at the areas where your scores are low and considering if there are any improvements that will give your current programme a better chance of sustainable success, and also bearing these in mind for future sales training initiatives.