The Issues With Sales Training - Achieve Roi

by - Date: 2008-07-11 - Word Count: 962 Share This!

A recent report by Selling Power indicates that corporations spend over seven billion dollars per year on sales training. The vital issue, with an investment this large many companies do not provide a means to understand whether it leads to a return on investment. And, many sales representatives do not adopt the sales methodology! In present economic times, the cost of capital is to high not to have measures.

Our firm has spent over 25 years in the field and we have seen this trend too often repeated. There is simply no reason to measure productivity, manufacturing and talent management, and not measure training return on investment.

When the concern is for both sales and growth there is a vital need to form a link. We have found that there are several issues that break the connectivity: - The sole metric used is new sales or new clients. - While many companies conduct sales training, it is event based. - Many selling representatives do not adopt the prescribed methodology. - "Eighty seven percent of training is lost within one month." - Training is not tied to the corporate business strategy. - Executive buy-in is narcissistic.

The sole metric used is new sales or new clients. Differentiation is the key to all business and industry. However, many do not have proper metrics to understand the impact of new and decreased sales. If a firm is engaged in an established selling program then it's vital to work toward a return on investment. Talent is measured, manufacturing production is measured, and customer service is measured, then why not sales? More importantly, new sales cannot be the only metric used to denote if sales training works. Selling does not work in a silo. Clearly, customer service, closing efficiency, handling objections and demonstration of product and service are required. The metric used must integrate with all operational departments effected by sales and more importantly the linkage to the overall corporate strategy.

Sales Training cannot be event based. A chronic misunderstanding about training is the issue of changing habits. Habits are formed from years of influences and behaviors. These behaviors have cultivated through many years of constant repetition. Enculturation is manifestation of behaviors. These behaviors do not change in a seven-hour program. It is counter productive to believe that a billion dollar firm will obtain double digit production after a seven-hour event. Results come from repetition. When was the last time other than starvation that you lost weight in a day or increased muscularity without exercise? Ask your selling professionals, "can you do the job if you life depended on it?" Deter shortcuts and train staff periodically for best results! Treat them as elite athletes.

Many selling representatives do not adopt the prescribed methodology. The worst travesty for any training program is a sheer lack of accountability. There are countless anecdotes of participants sent into training for hours and days at a time, returning to work no better than before training. Workers return to past habits having forgotten educational practicum. This illustrates a complete disregard for the return on investment. The only mechanism for success is the establishment of new habits. What gets remembered gets repeated and it is imperative for individuals to constantly repeat new processes to change old habits.

Second, review your talent pool. Research proves that certain behaviors cannot be taught. Organizations can hire for physical ability and even certain skills but talent is innate. Your talent does or does not have it. When the methodology is not used, search your talent pool.

"Eighty seven percent of training is lost within one month." Training for training sake does not work. While short-term productivity occurs, training is a longer-term process. Selling requires a series of programs that instill motivation, memorization and practicum. Short-term production might help monthly revenue gain, however, quarterly and annual are the proper success metrics. What might your feelings be if you discovered your physician only went to medical school for two years or only assisted a half dozen patients per year? How about an attorney that only litigated four cases per year? Selling is a profession.

We work in a multigenerational, multi-gendered and multicultural workforce. This potpourri requires changes in learning accommodation. Today's learner desires 1) to be involved in the learning process, they like interaction and adverse to simple lecture and 2) desire different modalities of learning. The proliferation of consumer electronics, the Internet and personal computing allows learners to devour content wherever, however and whenever they desire. Use a blended approach but ensure learning continues and does not hit obstacles.

Training is not tied to the corporate business strategy. Tactical sales forces do not work in today's complex and connected world. Sales representatives are myopic to the needs of the organization focusing only on the "product/service" of the day. It is imperative to denote for all staff the motives for the business. Sales staff must be aligned toward the core values. This provides vision and purpose. Exemplars such as FedEx illustrate this model as all work toward guaranteed overnight delivery.

Executive buy-in is narcissistic. The worst travesty for any training program is a sheer lack of accountability. Executives state the important of training yet THEY do not participate in programs and worse, do not follow up with required accountable. Stop the narcissism. Hold all individuals accountable to ALL training program essentials. Participants learn from true leaders and they follow them. People believe what they see and leadership must serve as exemplars.

Conventional wisdom says people change jobs for pay and morale, but lack of training leaves a chasm of frustration. The sales department is the most important asset of any organization. Executives are unpaid, vendors are unpaid, products are not developed until something is sold. End the training gap and begin to invest in the most vital asset of any organization- selling!

Copyright (c) 2008 Drew Stevens PhD

Related Tags: make money, selling, lead generation, sales training, sales coaching, business development, sales help, sales techniques, sales and marketing, selling strategies, sales manager training

Drew Stevens PhD is sales and marketing specialist. Drew assists organizations to dramatically accelerate business growth. Drew was recently nominated as one of 50 Top Sales Experts. Download a FREE copy of Drew's White Paper on "Selling Effectiveness" or "Business Building" e-book at

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