Sales managers have long been frustrated by the fact that sales reps don’t fully retain all the information they learn in training sessions. Furthermore, the information they remember tends to decrease as time goes by.
This can be a big revenue drain. Not only are sales leaders paying for an expensive program that will be a dim memory six months from now for many reps, but they’re also contributing to lost productivity by putting reps in classrooms, away from customers.
Traditionally, there haven’t been a lot of technological tools to help sales managers maximize their investment in sales training. Instead, managers have successfully leveraged ongoing coaching to make sales training stick. This year, however, as we were putting together our annual list of the Top 20 Sales Training Companies, I noticed that there’s a growing emphasis on both technology and coaching to solve the widespread problem of poor retention.
Overall, the applications submitted to us by sales-training companies showed that, to provide a vastly improved return on investment, many of these companies now offer managers real-time reinforcement tools, such as playbooks, Cloud-based coaching solutions, games, white boards, quizzes, customer relationship management (CRM) integration, and mobile reinforcement apps. The combination of coaching and real-time tools turns sales training into an ongoing activity rather than a fixed event that ends after a few days or weeks. The result is that sales leaders see consistent and continuous performance improvement among salespeople.
In addition to retention, these tools are also having an impact in other areas. For example, in the past, training did not always match the sales process. By using training playbooks that integrate with CRM, sales managers have a way to monitor whether reps are leveraging sales training and how they’re doing it, if so. This empowers managers to better evaluate training providers and monitor rep performance.
As in previous years, we used predetermined criteria to evaluate the applications for our Top 20 Sales Training Companies list. (Note: the list is compiled exclusively on the basis of applications and customer feedback surveys.) Here are the elements we currently consider:
- Depth and breadth of training offered
- Innovative and new offerings (specific training courses or methodology) or delivery methods
- Ability to customize offerings
- Strength of client satisfaction
The client-satisfaction component is an important one, as it tends to reflect the current needs of the clients sales-training companies serve; however, the path to progress always involves trying new things and not sticking with the status quo. Over the next two years, as sales leaders’ training expectations shift, I expect that the Top 20 Sales Training companies will have a bigger focus on the innovative use of technology and expansion of sales-enablement capabilities to support and improve sales performance.
To see the full list of the Selling Power Top 20 Sales Training Companies in 2014, please visit http://www.sellingpower.com/2014/sales-training-companies/top-twenty-listing/.
What changes have you seen in sales-training offerings in recent years? Share your thoughts in the comments section.