3 Questions for Improved Sales Training Effectiveness

Alison Brattle

Today's sales teams are under more pressure than ever; what's surprising is that for the most part, companies aren't supporting their teams by providing more sales training hours. What's more efficient: a large team of half-trained salespeople, or a small, tight team of fully trained and highly effective sellers? That smaller team is likely selling more product, and is probably more cost-effective too, even if you're spending more on training. How well does your training program prepare new sales candidates for success? Ask yourself these questions.

What is your sales and training strategy?
People who are good at setting and achieving goals know that the best and most achievable goals are those that are clearly defined. This holds true when it comes to creating a sales strategy, and also when it comes to developing a training program for new salespeople. Sales goals are relatively simple to define and set – revenue and profitability targets, and sales quotas for individuals and teams are familiar words for sales managers. Less straightforward is thinking about what you want you sales team to get out of training, both as new candidates and in the future as they gain experience, and what specific training your team needs in order to be able to meet the sales goals you set.

How do you measure success?
Having adequate metrics in place to measure the success of your training programme is essential. While it's most important to measure strategic metrics that correlate to sales goals, there are other important metrics too – tactical metrics, which correlate to how the training program operates, and course evaluations, as provided by trainees who complete the material. For example:

  • Strategic metrics might include sales completed more quickly, fewer discounts given, more new customers acquired.
  • Tactical metrics might include percentage of the sales team who complete each part of a training programme, percentage of the team who can competently demonstrate each product, percentage of the team who complete follow-up work.

Trainee evaluations are critical because they tell you whether your salespeople feel that their training was important for their future success. If trainees view their training as important, they'll be more likely to use what they learn.

Each of these metrics feeds into the others: if trainees consider their training important their evaluations will reflect that, and so will your tactical metrics. And if your tactical metrics show good results, then you're well on your way to achievable strategic metrics.

Do you provide ongoing training and evaluation?
The initial training that new salespeople receive is important, but ongoing sales coaching and evaluation is the key to keeping a team motivated, focused, and working effectively. It's important not only for keeping morale and motivation high, but also for helping your team integrate their training into their daily work habits. Ongoing evaluation is important too, because it's needed to determine whether your team is using their training on a daily basis, and in turn to determine the impact of their training on your sales figures.

The average sales team gets a day or two of training per year, and the company reaps the rewards – they get average sales, profit and growth. For above-average sales figures you need an above-average team, and that means effective and ongoing training and evaluation, to ensure that your team truly internalises and uses what they learn in training sessions.

Alison Brattle is marketing manager at a leading global sales training firm in the UK. It specializes in providing exceptional sales coachingand helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Alison enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership training. You can contact her via e-mail at marketing@achieveglobal.co.uk.