Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sales Training Tips

While it is agreed that training can improve the production results of a company there is no shortage of companies and executives that question the return on investment (ROI). Before you calculate the cost of training you should calculate the cost of mishandling opportunities that result from not training your people. Sales training has failed many companies because it was incorrectly implemented, not measurable, outdate and not relevant and did not actual assist in solving problems and actually improving the sales effectiveness of the organization.

For any training to be effective there are certain criteria that must be adhered to:

1) Must include management and not just the sales team. Not including management suggest that the training is not significant enough for the organization to embrace completely. The content should be so compelling that management can use it to run meetings, solve problems and even used to coach sales people during the day.

2) Expectation of the results should be significant and measurable. Sales training is not something you do because you need to train but something you do in order to win the game and make more sales! Training needs to be approached as valuable and vital ingredient to increased production and THE WAY to increased sales and revenue.

3) Sales training must be delivered in very short segments and interactive. What is short? Two to five minutes and even shorter. Most training fails today just because the segments are too long and loses the attention of the trainee. Our Sales Training Virtual Technology uses interactive engagement and testing forcing interaction and validating duplication with one question for every one minute of training content.

4) Training must be measurable and rewarded. Just like you track someone's production results sales training should be tracked and rewarded. It is proven that consistent training done at regular intervals over extended periods of time will create increased levels of sales production. Training that is not easily measurable, like any process or best practice will fail. We use buit in monitoring system that track everything a user of the program does while on the program, including how long, what they looked at, and whether they passed or failed the testing component.

5) Sales training should be focused on those that have been with the organization not the new people. Most organizations put all their attention and training dollars on the new hires and forget to continue to train the most stable in the organization. Effective sales training programs should focus 80% of the training content, time and energy on the proven sales people in the organization.

6) Sales training should be made part of the culture and delivered continually throughout the day. All staff meetings should include training, with sales people following that up with a minimum of two segments each day on their own, and then supported with sales coaching throughout the day to solve problems. We added this last component via our virtual technology whereby sales people can interctively consult me in real time and I am actually able to coach them through and transaction and improve their chances of closing a transaction. This combination of training throughout the day is similar to how you would correctly hydrate the body with fluids with an IV drip.

For sales training to be effective it must be made the first thing and then a continued activity each day in order to maximize every opportunity and guarantee a ROI. If you think it is expensive to train sales teams try the alternative. Missing sales in this environment is suicidal. Train them daily, demand they train throughout the day and provide soutions during the day and you will increase sales in any economy.

Let me summarize what Mr. Grant is talking about and with a few of my added suggestions for Philippine based companies. 

First. Make Sales Training a "all-company" activity. 

Filipinos are generally hardworking but unlike other countries most of us ended our education after formal school. We tend to take trainings for granted and even make lesser effort on applying the discussions done during the trainings. Hence, this will be management's job to involve everyone in the loop. 

Second. Make training a regular habit.

Set fixed dates for the entire sales training schedules for the year. Management should include this on the one year business plan. 
I remember joining a company wherein the salespeople would get surprised when management suddenly announces a training activity. Instead of getting excited, the sales force will tend to complain that training will only take away their supposed to be productive selling days. 
Third. Immediate measurement of results. 

We all know that procrastination is one of the main reasons for failure. Again, this too has to be included in management's one year business plan. This measurement will also help us gauge the effectiveness and timeliness of our trainings. More importantly, if the kind of training done is cost-efficient for the company. 

Lastly. Choose wisely who will conduct your trainings.    

In my experience this will be the main "argument" of management. Who should conduct the sales training? Should we get our top sales managers to do the training? Or Should we hire well-known third party who has a reputation and track record to show. In my opinion, I follow these three (3) premises in choosing who will conduct the training. 
1. Topic Competency - the one to conduct must have more than sufficient actual results done on the topic
2. Additional Services - often, when getting an external sales training company will give more value and results to the training since they provide extras like worksheets, up-to-date market reviews, measurement tools, and etcetera. 
3. Cost Efficiency - no matter where we look, we have to remember that everything done in business has to have a return-on-investment (ROI). So please include the cost of the sales training in conducting such an activity. 

Before we end this topic I want you to remember this line: "We as salespeople owe it to ourselves to continuously learn to sell"
That being said, no matter what kind of sales training we do, as long as we do not learn from our past mistakes our sales success and productivity will never improve. 

That's it for today, join me again for my next coming post. 
Feel free to contact me at salesmentoronlinephilippines@gmail.com or to get my post updates click the Followers Area on the side. 

Dedicated to your selling success,
Sales Mentor TM


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