Today's post is by Norman Behar, Managing Partner, Sales Readiness Group, Inc., a leading professional sales training company that develops customized sales and sales management programs for business-to-business sales organizations.
What can a sales organization do to maximize its ROI from a sales training initiative? Start by focusing on the following five factors that create sustainable changes in behaviors.
Without motivation sales professionals won’t invest the effort required to change behaviors. There are many ways an organization can help participants develop the motivation to learn new sales skills, including conducting pre-training skills assessments and establishing professional skill development plans, or coupling the training with some form of post-training certification and recognition program. Of course, perhaps the most powerful motivator is having management at all levels within the organization lend their presence and authority to the training program.
A common characteristic of unsuccessful sales training programs is using off-the-shelf curriculum that does not address the specific needs of the sales organization. As part of the sales training development process, the training must be linked to the goals and objectives of the organization, closely align with the sales professionals’ development needs, and customized for company and industry-specific needs.
3. Spaced Learning
The most effective sales training occurs when the delivery is spaced over a period of time rather than within a concentrated training event. The idea of spaced learning is based on the simple yet powerful insight that training participants learn, apply, and retain new skills more effectively when training is divided into manageable chunks of content that are delivered over time. To leverage the benefits of spaced learning, many sales organizations have adopted virtual instructor-led training (VILT) as their primary method of training delivery and rely on a combination of VILT and eLearning for reinforcement. Both of these delivery methods are generally more effective, both from a learning and cost perspective, than traditional event-based training.
According to one study, approximately 50% of learning content is not retained after five weeks, and after 90 days, 84% of what was initially learned is lost. In order to maximize the investment in sales training, companies should implement a fully integrated reinforcement program that includes one or more of the following: (i) ongoing reinforcement sessions, (ii) sales coaching by the frontline managers, (iii) on-demand reinforcement using eLearning, and (iv) sales tools and job aides.
Measurement ultimately means holding participants accountable for changing their behaviors and adopting new skills that drive sales results. Such measurement can be done through a combination of assessments, skill simulations, and field observations. Ultimately, frontline sales managers are in the best position to observe members of their team to assess skills adoption and, based on these observations, determine if change has taken place, if it is relevant to the desired outcomes, and if it is sustained.
Incorporating these five factors into a comprehensive sales training program will result in more sustainable adoptions of new skills and behaviors, and, ultimately, increased sales.