Many people find this hard to believe, but in most cases sales training doesn’t work – at least not by itself anyway. Research shows that 85-90 per cent of sales training has no measurable impact after 120 days.
So when is sales training effective? Where does it work, and where will you see ROI?
The first step is to understand the 70/20/10 rule. According to this rule, sales training only accounts for 10 per cent of the learning transfer. The bulk of learning happens through real world, on-the-job training (70 per cent) and through managerial coaching and observational feedback (20 per cent).
The second step is to understand that sales training is only effective if you undertake pre- and post-training evaluations. What happens before and after the course is just as important (if not more so) than what happens during the course itself.
The pre-training evaluation is an opportunity to assess your current performance, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and set goals accordingly. It should also provide growth potential and reveal specific areas of development that are related to the training program you are considering.
The post-training evaluation is when you sit down with your team and go through the material they learned on the course. Each staff member should have at least three goals to action. Together, you can start implementing the theories they learned so they have a ‘real-world’ impact.
Providing you take these steps, then sales training can be really effective. Below are three areas in particular where you will likely see results.
1. Staff performance and company culture
A sales training program is an excellent opportunity to bring your team together, remind them of their goals, encourage them to stay motivated, and celebrate their successes. It’s the perfect time to check in with everyone on an individual basis, as well as assess how everyone is working together as a team.
If certain staff members need to lift their performance, this is something you will be able to encourage with the right management, training and post-course support.
2. Goal setting and long-term strategy
Sales training is also effective if it prompts you to set clear, measurable goals. Business moves fast, and months can go by without you stopping to reflect on your progress and reposition the goal posts. Sales training offers an opportunity to pause, review and move forward with renewed energy.
Goal setting also ensures you will be prepared for the sales training course, with clear objectives and expectations regarding what you would like to achieve. You should also encourage your staff to set their own goals. The more prepared they are for the course, they more they will get out of it.
3. Top-line and bottom-line performance
The third area where sales training should have an impact is on both your top-line and bottom-line performance. For example, one of the techniques your staff might learn is the ability to have ‘value based’ conversations (rather than ‘price based’). This can prevent discounting and defend and increase margins.
Unfortunately, many businesses fail to measure whether there is an uptick in sales following a sales training program – and are therefore in the dark about the true return on investment. Sales training can be expensive, so if it has no impact on your top and bottom line, it might be worth reconsidering your approach or looking for a different provider.
Now that you know the areas where sales training works, remember to measure ROI as accurately as possible. Your ROI should be directly related to your specific goals. For example, you can measure sales statistics, margins, company morale, and staff improvement.
Look for a provider that can help you measure ROI as part of the sales training package. Request that they demonstrate how they measure performance improvements before you begin the course, for peace of mind that they can deliver on their promises.