“Invest in staff training”: this advice is found in nearly every article, blog post or book directed at sales managers. There is a lot of talk about the importance of sales training, but not so much talk about the training itself.
Before you invest in a training programme
What does a good sales training course look like? In what ways can you measure its impact on your sales team? How can you separate the great sales trainers from the not-so-great? These are just some of the questions you should ask before investing in a training programme.
After all, sales training is just that – an investment. It costs time and money and should therefore be evaluated on how it impacts your business and your bottom line. Investing in sales training without measuring the return is akin to throwing money to the wind; it might come back to you, it might not.
How to choose a sales training programme
One way to remove luck from the equation is by holding sales training courses to the same high standards you’d hold other areas of investment. You wouldn’t sink hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars into poor performing sales software, or office equipment that falls apart… when you pay for something, you expect it to add value, so why do you shy away from putting sales training courses under the same microscope?
Perhaps you don’t put too much thought into the courses because they only come around once or twice a year. As a one-off expense, they seem affordable and “worth a try” because, why not? Your staff will get out of the office and might learn something new (not to mention network with likeminded people and enjoy some free food).
This is all well and good, but excellent sales training courses offer so much more than just networking and a free lunch. They provide measurable, long-term results that have a lasting impact on your sales process. So, how can you tell if a course will be excellent or second-rate? Here are some key signs to look for:
Big picture thinking
Improving sales performance is a complex task that requires a holistic approach. Sales training is just one piece of a large puzzle, so it’s important your chosen trainer understands this, and works to draw your attention to how training fits into the big picture. Be wary of any courses promising the world, or appearing to be ‘magic bullets’ for success.
Measuring results is hard – which may be why many sales training companies shy away from this practice. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Ask training providers how their effectiveness will be evaluated, and work with those who are willing to be held accountable.
Focus on mindset (not just skillset)
Many sales training courses are skills-oriented. They focus on specific techniques, such as ‘how to perfect your elevator pitch’ or ‘tips for cold calling’. These skills are important, but they may not be enough motivation for your sales staff to really take their selling to the next level. Courses that focus on improving an individual’s mindset – for example, their self-confidence – often have much greater long-term success than those that focus on skills-only. Look for providers that understand the importance of both training angles.
Want to learn more about what makes a good sales training course? Sometimes the best way forward is to identify what doesn’t work.
Download our free eBook, ‘Why Sales Training Does NOT Work’ to find out where some training providers could be going wrong.