ES Research Group announced findings last week from its annual "Sales Training Vendor Guide," which is available for purchase from its Website.
In addition to providing an evaluation of sales training vendors, the guide analyzes training trends. Among the conclusions is that as much as 15 percent of sales training delivered in 2008 is having a lasting impact of more than 90 days, up from only 10 percent in 2006 and 2007. ESR says it believes this increase resulted from more companies understanding the importance of building and using sales methodologies.
Despite the positive news of increased training effectiveness in 2008, several worrying trends are developing that may negatively impact results for 2009 and beyond:
• Corporate investments in sales training will be down at least 20 percent in 2009. Depending on the economy, that number could quickly grow to 40 percent or more.
• Traditional live, on-site, classroom training will be off 60 percent or more, due mainly to travel expense limitations. To counter this, ESR sees an increase in deployments of distance-learning solutions, both recorded and live.
• When cutting costs, corporations most often eliminate coaching from training budgets. This is a big mistake since learning reinforcement through coaching is a critical success factor for any sales training initiative.
• Having the wrong salespeople in sales jobs continues to be a large problem. ESR estimates that in "sales-challenged" companies, as many as 25 percent to 33 percent of salespeople don't have the skills and personal traits to succeed.
"While providing some initial comfort, these findings raise serious concerns about sales training effectiveness this year and beyond," says Dave Stein, CEO and founder, ES Research Group. "Compounding economic difficulties with bad internal investments could put many firms in jeopardy. For example, 80 percent of companies we spoke with across multiple industries do not perform an objective, comprehensive needs analysis when evaluating and selecting a sales training company. The two most prevalent methods employed are choosing a training partner by name recognition or selecting a firm based on a past engagement with that vendor, regardless of the results. When you look at the statistics, you might as well pick a trainer from the Yellow Pages."
The guide also rates 23 leading sales effectiveness companies. Covered in the guide are Acclivus, AchieveGlobal, The Brooks Group, The Complex Sale, CustomerCentric Selling, Forum, FranklinCovey Sales Performance Group, Imparta, Impax, InfoMentis, Knowledge Advantage, Holden International, Huthwaite, Miller Heiman, Performance Methods, Prime Resource Group, Revenue Storm, Richardson, Sales Performance International, Sandler Institute, The TAS Group,ValueSelling Associates, and Wilson Learning. The guide provides analysis of each provider, including strengths and challenges as well as comparisons of each against the rest.
The "Sales Training Vendor Guide" noted that many of the leading sales training companies have downsized as a result of lowered demand. Research and development are being impacted, which might hurt those companies and the entire industry for years to come. Beyond this, ESR noted the increasing diversity among sales teams is a challenge for some sales training companies. Generational, cultural, and experiential differences prevent the traditional one-size-fits-all approach from offering significant performance improvements. Organizations with heterogeneous sales teams, says ESR, should understand how their sales trainer is going to approach that challenge.