Meaningful Sales Training Outcomes Require Meaningful Steps
To execute their growth strategies, CEOs and sales leaders often need their sales teams to behave differently by selling differently to different buyers. If you are looking for real behavior change from your sales force (and you should), you need to change your view of sales training from a one-time event to an ongoing change process.
How B2B Selling Has Changed
Twenty years ago, it was enough to get your sellers to act more like consultants trained to pitch less, ask more effective sales questions, and present solutions. Ten years ago, the best business sales training programs tried to reflect the understanding that successful salespeople act more like idea drivers who provide value at every stage of the sales process and truly understand their target buyer’s needs and decision making system. Now, in the last few years, the best salespeople operate more as trusted change agents.
A Special Note about How B2B Sales Have Changed during COVID-19
The way companies buy from and sell to each other has changed — perhaps permanently. Recent McKinsey research found that 96% of B2B sales teams have fully or partially shifted to remote selling, buyers are twice as likely to choose suppliers who provide outstanding digital service, and 79% of B2B sales teams are very or somewhat likely to continue remote and social selling for at least one year post-COVID.
Challenge for Sales Training – Live and Remote
Before or after COVID, the underlying challenge remains – how do you get sales leaders and their sales reps who are pressured to meet their immediate sales targets to invest the time and energy required to develop new sales skills? The problem is that solution selling training, even if highly customized and targeted toward priority sales skill gaps and initially proven successful, can fade in its effectiveness over time.
In fact, based upon over 800 sales training measurement projects, we know that sales training by itself – even if it is highly customized – only changes the on-the-job behavior and performance of 1-in-5 sales reps. And the 20% that do change behavior and improve performance were already likely to do so without much help.
Why B2B Sales Training Fails to Get Meaningful Sales Training Outcomes
Sales training content is not hard to find, develop, and deliver. What is hard is changing the behaviors of salespeople and those that lead and support them to execute high growth sales strategies. From our experience, we have found that sales training programs lose traction for three main reasons:
The good news is that, if key sales skills are reinforced and there is continual training of new skills along with a process for accountability and rewards, sales training works. In fact, sales reps receiving effective and consistent sales coaching alone outperform their peers in quota achievement 4-to-1. And when other conditions are met, top performing sales organizations demonstrate higher win rates, better sales goal attainment, stronger pricing, and higher growth in strategic accounts.
The Key to Getting Meaningful Sales Training Outcomes
Top performing sales organizations have learned to look at sales training not as discrete and often disconnected events, but as a long-term investment in their sales capabilities and sales strategies. The key is to develop a strategic sales training approach, not a tactical sales training plan, that is aligned with the sales strategy, sales culture, and sales capabilities.
Companies that Do It Right
Some companies do it right. They deploy strategic sales training initiatives that are focused, organized, and have a long-term view. A study by the Aberdeen Group looking at sales training results found that companies with an approach that ensures sales training effectiveness lead others in:
The Bottom Line
Sales training is relatively easy to buy and deliver; ensuring that your sales reps deliver higher revenues, healthier margins, better win rates, or larger deal sizes is more challenging. If you want to change sales behavior and sales performance, take a close look at how you are designing, deploying, and reinforcing your sales training programs.
To learn more about how to lift your sales performance, download The 4 Most Important Attributes to Look for When Sales Reps Miss Their Targets
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