I came across an interesting, yet not surprising statistic the other day. According to a report by ES Research Group, 90% of all sales training programs have no long-term impact beyond 120 days.
This means that 10% of programs do, which is typically a solid return for sales training investments. But what if you could get well beyond that statistic? An already strong ROI for sales training would only get stronger.
Currently $5 billion is spent on sales training. A wise investment especially when you consider the landmark work of Dr. Laurie Bassi, CEO of McBassi and Company, a consulting firm that specializes in human capital analytics. In her research entitled The Impact of U.S. Firms' Investments in Human Capital, she writes that the education and training variable is the most significant predictor of an organization's success as measured by price-to-earnings ratio, price-to-book statistics, and measures of risk and volatility.
Dr. Bassi proves something that leaders often proclaim, "our people are our most significant asset", therefore they are worth our investment. So how do we maximize our investment in sales training and help our sales professionals become partners with their customers?
To answer this question I offer five tips, or truths, that must be considered if you want the best sales training for your team.
1. Customize the training for your company
I have been taught to sell insurance, software, and trucking equipment. I have never been in any of these industries. When we learn new skills in a "foreign", irrelevant environment, we have to work much harder to understand the skill, no less begin to practice it.
It's like taking a college history course in Spanish when you only studied Spanish for one year in high school. To leave the translation burden to the sales professional is not fair, productive, or efficient.
2. The trainer must be credible
There are two reasons the trainer must be credible. First, adult learners are skeptical and demanding by nature. If they are to invest their valuable time, they will make certain that the trainer has something to offer.
The sales trainer must be knowledgeable about the company and well practiced in the skills and behaviors they are teaching so that they can demonstrate the skills on demand in a realistic environment, thereby gaining credibility with the class. After all, who doesn't want to learn from someone who has something to offer?
In addition, the instructor must be able to demonstrate the skills being taught. Because people learn differently, modeling key skills will help some learners better understand them and execute better during their guided practices. Better understanding and improved application are key to securing lasting results.
3. Establish Ownership Objectives throughout the courseware
The truth is that people will only change when they believe it is in their best interest to do so. Unfortunately, most sales training programs rely on traditional learning objectives that don't take into account this critical fact.
In order to maximize sustainable impact, it is essential that participants take ownership in the new sales skills and commit themselves to developing personal proficiency. These ownership objectives help trainees come to the realization that they alone must own the knowledge and skill acquisition. No one can make them more skillful or knowledgeable but themselves.
4. Develop job aides and continuous learning tools
Let's face it: Behavior change and skill development does not happen in the classroom. Training builds the foundation for change, but it is only through application and practice that the new skills become habit.
Effective training programs provide job aides to assist with point of sale application and structured learning tools as well as materials to help participants reinforce, refresh, and practice what they learned in class.
5. Training Programs must be supported with Effective Coaching
Sales coaching is the single most effective way to improve sales performance. Coaches work with their teams to understand performance and behavioral gaps and increase the underlying skill and knowledge needed to execute effectively. Coaching is the insurance policy on all of your training efforts.
Do you believe these tips will help improve your sales training ROI? What other tips and insights would you like to share?