Sales Training: How to Maximize the Return on Your Investment

how sales training can maximize a return on your investment

If you’re reading this, you are probably thinking about investing in sales training or have just completed some sales training and are wondering how to get the best ROI from it. To that end, I asked a couple of top sales trainers to help me address some of your frequently asked questions and concerns, so you can make an informed decision regarding maximizing your ROI in sales training.

The first expert I spoke with is Pat Mustico, Regional Vice President of Huthwaite. Huthwaite is one of the world’s leading sales performance improvement organizations. Their approach is founded on scientifically validated behavioral research and methodologies, which include the internationally renowned SPIN® Selling. The other person I spoke with is Scott Messer, the founder and President of Sales Evolution who has spent almost his entire career assisting owners and sales leaders of small and mid-market companies in screening, interviewing, hiring, and training sales and business development professionals.

The first question I asked was: how do we know it will work?

Pat stated that sales training success can be measured in many ways, but it is important that you define measurements prior to training. Many companies use revenue improvement as a benchmark. Knowing that increased revenue is ultimately the goal, there can be many outside influences that impact revenue. Measuring leading indicators and behaviors is the best approach. Measuring behavioral change and newly trained skills will allow for immediate reinforcement and redirect and ensure the reps are on track. A leading indicator can include things such as advances achieved, implication questions asked, meeting the right contact, etc. With the right leading indicators, the results will come.

Scott provided another important element to consider:

Many people ask 'how do we know it will work?' because they want a guarantee that the training will work. The only thing that we can truly guarantee is what we can control. This includes things such as always showing up on time and answering coaching calls and emails promptly. Most sales trainers teach time-tested principles and tactics, and we have already coached thousands of salespeople successfully on those principles. As a result, we have seen sales increases. Here's what we don't control: your willingness as the sales leader to put a stake in the ground to ensure that all participants will be active, that your reps will actually show up to the classes and that your reps will call for the coaching sessions.

Who should participate?

Pat and Scott both agreed with me on this one. Any client-facing employee should be included in the sales training.The key for both sales and non-salespeople is changing the mind set from “selling” to “helping your prospects and clients solve problems.” Everyone wants to help, but not many people want to sell! You may just need to offer different versions of the training for staff such as project managers, customer service reps, technicians, etc. If a new sales methodology is to be trained, then the change must occur throughout the entire company, not just within the sales team. The entire customer-facing team needs to be aligned for greatest results. Additionally, the marketing team should also participate in sales training, so they can support the new methodology in their marketing initiatives. Product training may also need to change in order to adjust to the new selling methodology. 

Scott stated that it is important to understand that each person has different sales challenges, so you need to customize the program to address their individual needs. One size does not fit all. For example, senior salespeople simply have more complex challenges to work with, whereas newer reps often struggle more with the basics.

How do I know which program is best for us?

The truth is that any program that imparts a repeatable, scalable process on the sales team is better than everyone running around doing their own thing. Andy Miller of Big Swift Kick sales consulting  provided this analogy: In football, you could draft the top NFL players in the league, but if they don’t have a strategy and process (i.e. playbook) to follow, their chances of scoring diminish drastically. In today's world, it’s important to understand that no one likes being “closed,” and salespeople equally have trouble with closing. The best programs teach reps how to solve problems. The secret is how to structure the process and conversation.

Second, while there is a wealth of terrific material on the topic, including books, tapes, webinars, training courses, etc., most business owners and sales executives are not totally happy with their sales team’s performance. With all this great material out there, you’d think everyone would be good at sales!

The issue is this: sales is a profession, and just as someone can’t become proficient at accounting, technology, or even social media by taking a simple webinar or reading a book, someone can’t become a high performing sales professional without proper training that includes ongoing reinforcement and coaching.

To learn more...

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