By Robert Kear
Other than the costs associated with hiring top sales talent, a sales leader’s most significant investment will be training his or her team.
According to data from the 2016 State of Sales Training report, published by ATD Research, (which reflects responses from 227 talent development professionals responsible for sales enablement), the average annual total expenditure on sales training is $954,070. Unfortunately, many sales training investments aren’t providing the top-line impact sales leaders and management are looking for.
But there is a solution to this. My organization, Sales Performance International (SPI), recently released a white paper, Beyond Sales Training: Six Essentials for a True Sales Performance System, that argues sales organizations must move beyond traditional sales development approaches and focus instead on what we identify as performance development. This will ensure real returns on sales-improvement investments.
“Performance development” will automatically address many of the challenges associated with traditional approaches to sales training. A focus on performance development includes the following characteristics.
#1: Clearly defined business outcomes. Despite the hefty cost of training initiatives, many companies commit to a plan without a clear view of how that training will connect to their strategic goals. Performance development includes a systematic view of how new knowledge and behaviors will impact and contribute to business outcomes and revenue attainment.
#2: A highly focused scope for training. Many companies engage in what might be called a blanket approach to training, which includes a scope that is both broad and programmatic. This is often too vague to be helpful. Performance development demands an agile mindset and a “timeboxed” approach to scope. Timeboxing helps the team identify areas for improvement; it also assigns specific parameters to individual tasks or deliverables, which keeps solutions focused and expedient.
#3: A customized “path to mastery.” Mass-produced learning and development content just won’t cut it given the way customers buy today. Trainees need a customized “path to mastery” that helps them develop the knowledge and behavior they need to succeed in a wide variety of sales situations.
#4: Field application of new skills. Most sales training initiatives focus primarily on learning objectives without necessarily addressing the skills salespeople will need in their particular field, with their particular market segment. Any performance-development-driven approach will take into account how salespeople will actually apply their new skills when they go out into the field to sell.
To learn more, download our white paper: Beyond Sales Training: Six Essentials for a True Sales Performance System.