Sales training programs generally get a bad rap in the world of B2B-focused companies. Just Google a phrase like “funny sales training programs,” and you’ll see what I mean. I have to admit, the cartoons and memes that come up in the Images tab alone are pretty humorous.
The thing is, sales management and those at the VP level and above at companies tend to think that sales training programs are just a “song and dance” routine; in other words, all flash but no results. Why? Mainly because they’ve been burned in the past. Maybe they’ve had an internal trainer who doesn’t have sales experience. Or maybe they’ve had an external vendor who promised all kinds of riches from their program, but never followed up after the session was done.
Nowadays, though, sales training programs can be much different. Whether you’re implementing a cold-calling strategy, a LinkedIn or social selling strategy, or even a new way to close business, your company can get the most out of your training by following our suggestions; whether it comes from your internal training department or an external sales-training company.
“One and Done” Training = “One and None”
I’m just going to put this out there: Any sales training program that promises huge results after one or a few sessions without any follow-up is a lousy one. Such a program WILL fail.
Sales training is a process; just like the sales process itself, actually. Success doesn’t come as the result of a trainer coming in, conducting a program, leaving behind material for salespeople to follow, and cashing the company’s check.
A combination of goals to be met and on-going training to help salespeople meet and even exceed those targets is needed for all interested parties – the salesperson, management, and the company as a whole – to be truly successful.
Define KPIs as a Result of Sales Training Programs
It’s critical for any initiative to have goals. The same can be said for sales training. A proper program will lay out a GPS-like roadmap to success, with key-performance indicators (KPIs) that act as waypoints along the continuing journey.
Any KPIs that are developed need to be structured specifically for your company, and your trainers (either internal or your external training company) need to have insight into your goals. A really good training department/outside training vendor will be able to help you define those targets and even put real numbers to those goals.
At FRONTLINE Selling, for example, we have 15 years of experience and studied nearly two million outbound calls. We know the numbers that are needed to be successful. And when you work social into the equation, we know both the actions that need to be taken and the amount of those actions needed for a highly favorable outcome. You need that kind of information to set those waypoints.
Teach to Your KPIs
It’s not enough to just define KPIs, though. Sales management needs to keep track of those indicators, and then offer additional training to those salespeople who aren’t meeting them. Easier said than done, I know. But a firm commitment from management to hold their sales team(s) accountable and backing it up with quality training really goes a long way in meeting and exceeding those KPIs.
Not teaching to KPIs is also another reason why “one and done” training sessions don’t work well for the modern B2B sales-focused organization.
The WIIFM for Salespeople
Your management is hopefully bought-in to a new sales training program. But if your salespeople don’t see the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) value for them, the new program will not succeed. Guaranteed.
This is where a great internal training department or external training vendor comes in. They will be able to show how what’s being taught will bring more money into their bank accounts. Their buy-in is critical to the success of your program and whether they are senior sales professionals or new reps just starting out, everyone must believe they can succeed with a program in order for it to have a chance.
In essence, the new program needs to be “sold” to the salespeople through effective marketing. Most salespeople want to have an effective program they know works, and a good sales/marketing effort by management and the trainer(s) is crucial.
By now, I hope I’ve established that a properly structured sales training program that has defined goals, continuing coaching, and a way to gain buy-in from all parties is the way to go for your sales success. If so, you’ll be singing and dancing all the way to the bank.
Mike Scher is Co-Founder and Chief Sales Architect at FRONTLINE Selling.