Companies of all sizes spend a small (and often not-so-small) fortune on sales training every year to assess, develop and, more recently, accredit the selling skills of their people.
Six months after implementation, however, many companies are left wondering why the sales training programme failed in terms of its main objectives.
At best, the training made an initial difference but the impact just didn’t last.
Or, worse, it took their people off the road for a considerable amount of time and gave them some complicated new ideas that made the sales cycle even longer and the win-rate decline!
The fact is that, if sales training is to be worth investing in, it needs some commitment and effort from you (as a sales leader) to make a real and sustainable difference. As with any change initiative at any organisation, sustained success requires sales leaders to take a strategic approach.
Shifting skills and behaviours
Sales development programmes – and any associated assessment and accreditation – should be chosen, planned, tailored, communicated and implemented as part of a clear strategy for shifting the selling skills and behaviours (and often attitudes) of the sales team. This needs to come from, and be modelled by, the sales leader(s).
As a sales leader, you need to develop your own leadership skills to ensure that the sales development programme you are putting in place (including the underlying selling methodology, accreditation, and even the language that will be used in the training) is completely in line with your business growth strategy and is communicated as a ‘critical success factor’ for making your strategy succeed.
People have to see, hear and feel the executive team’s commitment to the programme – not just in terms of words, but also in terms of involvement and an ongoing commitment to making a change.
To realise the benefits of an effective sales training programme, sales leaders must choose a training provider that will:
- Tailor their sales training solution for you, your organisation and your target sectors.
- Provide business development tools and techniques that can be adapted for, and applied to, your industry and your target sectors.
- Use exercises and role-play consultative selling meetings that apply to real life situations in your industry.
- Help you to strategically plan and implement the programme in a way that wins the hearts and minds of your sales force and drives real application and momentum in terms of results.
Sales training and development programmes by themselves are not a panacea or a ‘magic bullet’. However, if you treat the implementation as a change programme, with the help of your sales training provider, you will be assured of success – i.e. a real and lasting shift in performance.
To make it work will require some commitment and effort, but very soon you’ll stop having to do all the high margin selling yourself and you will be able to concentrate on leading your organisation forward. Your people will do the high margin selling for you – and you’ll be able to believe their sales forecasts!
Now isn’t that worth a bit of effort?
Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase