The Top 5 Reasons to Postpone Sales Training

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Should You Postpone Sales Training?
There are many valid reasons to delay or postpone sales training.  The value and timing of business sales training, like every other sales investment, must be compared to and aligned with shifting business priorities and initiatives.  Given the speed of change today and the constant pressure of competition, what timing makes the most sense in terms of the value and business impact of the training?

The Impetus to Improve Sales Performance
The majority of our clients are being pressed by investors to deliver higher growth at the same time as their clients are demanding more value at better price points.  To make matters more challenging, there are fewer barriers to entry causing competition to increase.  This perfect storm means many companies are:

  • Trying to design and introduce more new products and solutions faster than ever before
  • Launching major shifts in their go-to-market sales strategies in terms of solution sets, target clients, value propositions, portfolio mix and geographic reach
  • Struggling to hire sales reps fast enough who can sell complex solutions to different types of buyers

The #1 Priority – Profitable Revenue Growth
When we talk to sales leaders, there is one priority that never seems to change – profitable revenue growth.  If this is true, then the question becomes, is sales training important to ensuring profitable revenue growth?  Because sales training develops new sales skills and techniques gradually over time, the impact of training can be difficult for some companies to quantify.

The Impact of Sales Training
The good news is that we have measured over 800 sales training projects and know that profitable revenue growth is possible.  Sales teams that do training right, grow revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable than their peers.  To ensure your sales training hits the mark, follow these three research-backed best practices:

  • Sales Strategy – start with a clear, believable and implementable sales strategy about where you are going to play and how you are going to win.  Sales training without a clear sales strategy is just wishful thinking.
  • Sales Culture – once your sales strategy is clear enough, your next step is to ensure that your sales culture (the way things get done) is healthy enough, high performing enough and aligned enough with your sales strategy to help, not hinder, progress.
  • Sales Talent – once your sales strategy and culture are aligned toward profitable growth, it is then time to attract, develop, engage and retain the top sales talent you need to execute your sales strategy.  This is where sales training comes in.

The Top Five Reasons to Postpone Sales Training
Because sales training is just one avenue to improve profitable revenue growth, there are certainly situations where it makes sense to postpone sales training.  Here are the top five reasons from our clients:

1.  Lack of Strategic Sales Clarity
You should postpone sales training if your go-to-market sales strategy is not clear enough, believable enough or implementable enough in the eyes of your leadership or sales team.  It is hard enough to change sales skills and behaviors.  It is almost impossible if everyone is not on the same page in terms of target clients, value proposition and the critical few strategies to meet you objectives.


RELATED: ASSESS YOUR LEVEL OF STRATEGIC SALES CLARITY NOW


2.  Unhealthy or Misaligned Sales Culture
Think of your sales culture as how sales-related things really get done… the way sales people think, behave and act.  And sales culture matters.

Before you embark on sales training, make sure that your sales team is engaged enough to want to take their performance to the next level.  Then make sure that the way your sales team treats customers, makes decisions, views risk, creates loyalty, goes to market and gets results matches your growth strategy.  Do not let culture gaps provide excuses for missed sales targets.

3.  No Solution to Sell
Oddly enough, too many companies who want to teach their sales reps to sell value-added solutions do not actually have a solution to sell.  Here is how we define product versus solution selling.

  • Product sales is about the features and benefits – what your product does, how it’s built and how it compares to alternatives in the marketplace
  • Solution sales is about how your organization’s capabilities solve a pressing customer problem or achieve an important customer strategic objective

You should postpone sales training, at least the solution selling approach, if you are only selling features and benefits, regardless of how complex the product may appear.

4.  Not Ready to Reinforce the New Sales Skills and Behaviors
Sales training without the proper reinforcement only changes the behavior of 1-in-5 sales reps.  To ensure that new sales knowledge, skills, and attitudes transfer to the job, you must invest in:

  • Sales Support Resources – Make sure your sales teams have the necessary time, information, tools, technology, supporting sales processes, and structures to drive increased revenue the “new way”
  • Sales Reinforcement – Make sure you provide and align sales success metrics, incentives, consequences and recognition with the newly desired sales skills and behaviors
  • Sales Coaching – Our research shows that sales reps who receive frequent sales coaching outperform their peers 4-to-1.  Invest in sales coaching if you do not want your sales training investment to waste away.

You should postpone sales training if you are not willing to hold people accountable to the new way of doing things while providing the consistent and frequent sales coaching and support required to succeed.

5.  Different Capability Levels on Your Sales Team
While no one can excel at everything, we do believe that anyone can improve in almost any field.  We absolutely know sales people can change and improve their sales performance.  With that being said, if you are convinced that some on your sales team will never have the right attitude or aptitude to succeed in the “new way,” it may makes sense to let those people go before you begin sales training.

Can You Afford to Postpone Your Sales Training?
While the five reasons above should be addressed before moving forward, do not postpone sales training until everything is perfectly aligned.  Otherwise you will never provide your sales team with the sales skills they need to be successful in today’s marketplace.  There will always be change and uncertainty.  Remember the fundamental solution sales skills required to be successful do not change much and take time to develop.  You can always take the skills to the next level as things progress.

The Bottom Line
To get the most from your sales training investment, make sure that your sales strategy is clear enough, your sales culture is aligned enough, your sales team has enough of the right people and that you are willing to reinforce the new skills and behaviors.  And remember, the longer you wait, the longer it will take for your reps to execute your new sales strategy.

Is your value proposition unclear?  Your Unique Value Proposition and Differentiation – What Sets You Apart?

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