At times, barriers to an effective sales training program seem insurmountable. Teams are located away from headquarters or across different countries and time zones. The pressure to hit quotas makes teams reluctant to leave the field. Most people learn by doing, which can be difficult to facilitate. And because salespeople have so many different experiences and skills, it’s difficult to design a one-size-fits-all training that’s truly capable of delivering the best learning method.
So how can you tell that your sales training isn’t working?
Top five signs:
- New hires aren’t meeting quota or are slow to achieve it.
- The sales team isn’t aware of or is underutilizing key resources such as CRM tools and marketing materials.
- Team morale is plummeting, which leads to costly retention challenges.
- The sales team isn’t adequately prepared to handle day-to-day challenges such as common objections and competitive pressure.
- Sales leadership and executive management are frustrated by continual missed revenues.
Most organizations fall somewhere along this spectrum; very few are disastrously underperforming or continually hitting every objective. But savvy organizations know that it’s best to be aware of such challenges up front to either restore or increase the company’s topline revenue.
Today companies are turning to blended learning solutions to ensure that employees are gaining important skills and also applying them through continual, reinforced learning environments. Especially applicable for sales training, blended learning is an effective approach to learning because it was developed around the latest research on how adult brains learn and process information. According to Bersin by Deloitte’s Continuous Learning Model, “70 percent of learning occurs outside of formal programs.” By combining multiple forms of learning in a way that maximizes knowledge retention, blended learning ensures your sales training dollars don’t go to waste.
Here are a few ideas for you to consider adding to your training mix:
Incorporate experiential learning.
Classroom and e-learning can provide a strong foundation, but extended, field-based learning in front of the customer is essential for performance success. Consider a toggle between formal training and field experience for higher impact.
Enact continuous learning.
People learn best in smaller pieces over an extended period of time. And selling is a complicated process that becomes even more complex as products and environments change. Ensure the training window is open for at least the first year, but maintain a continuous training environment to ensure maximum performance.
Add individualized training.
Because no two people learn alike and sales representatives come with different levels of experience, efficient training needs a personalized approach. Part of this should incorporate avenues that allow access to experts for follow-up help so that employees feel empowered to ask for the guidance they need.
Measure the outcomes.
The old adage says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” And it’s true. You need to be able to set objectives and then track and measure progress throughout your program. This is the only way to truly know when a new sales hire is ready for the field or if more training is required. You also need to be able to track and measure your programs as whole in order to optimize for effectiveness.
Real World Example.
Consider using software to accomplish these goals with your blended training programs. One of our customers is a medical equipment company with a large field-based sales organization. They’re using Chronus Learn software to develop, manage, and then measure the results of an intense program that combines classroom training, 1:1 coaching, and field experience.
We hope this article has given you a few ideas on how you can improve the effectiveness of your sales training program. By building a strong sales training program, your organization will quickly realize how sharp sales skills, long-term knowledge retention, and better employee engagement will truly affect the corporate bottom line.
*Mallon, David. “Continuous Learning Model.” Bersin by Deloitte. May, 2014. Web. 19 May. 2014.