The Importance of Sales Training Reinforcement

The Importance of Sales Training Reinforcement
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Sales Training without Reinforcement Should Be Unacceptable
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.  The difference maker?  Sales training reinforcement.

Good Intentions with Minimal Results
While most organizations invest in business sales training with good intentions to improve sales skills, grow profitable revenue, and improve customer loyalty, most are wasting their time and money.  The acquisition and adoption of sales skills, actually any skill for that matter, takes far more than standalone training.  In fact, our research found that the most likely benefit from standalone sales training is nothing more than awareness, insight, and appreciation of the opportunity to learn.

While all three of those things can be a meaningful part of a career development and employee engagement plan, neither has a direct correlation to revenue growth, profitability, win-rate, portfolio mix, cycle time, or customer satisfaction. For solution selling training skills to stick and actually make a difference in performance, they must be methodically monitored, reinforced, and coached.

What Type of Sales Reinforcement Matters?
When we compare the business results of companies that reinforced sales training and those that did not.  Top performing sales organizations are consistently more likely to:

  • Provide proven sales and marketing tools
  • Capture and transfer sales best practices unique to their industry, unique value proposition, and target market from “A” players to the rest of the team
  • Maintain a repository of customer-generated references, case studies, and testimonials to substantiate their brand promise
  • Train their sales managers in how to effectively manage and coach their reps
  • Designate resources to support sales reps when certain subject matter expertise is needed

These high performing sales teams consider training as an ongoing way of selling and serving customers, not as a one-time event.

Five Additional Sales Training Reinforcement Best Practices|
Continuous and reinforced sales learning shows up in real business results.  Don’t handicap your company’s future by not applying what works.  Here are what we consider best-in-class sales practices beyond the training event:

  1. Defining a Winning Sales Strategy and Aligning Your Sales Culture
    Sales strategy and sales culture account for 71% of the difference between high and low performing sales teams in terms of profitable revenue growth, customer retention, and employee engagement.

    Before you invest in any sales training, make sure that you have a clear and believable sales strategy and that how work gets done – your sales culture – is one hundred percent aligned with that strategy.

    For example, your sales culture needs to help, not hinder your strategy for success. That means that how marketing, finance, legal, HR, services, and product development get work done needs to accelerate and support the sales strategy, not make it more difficult to win deals and serve clients.

  1. Adopting a Well-Designed Sales Methodology
    Take a close look at what works in your specific sales space. What kind of sales process, pipeline, communications, content, and patterns work best with your target clients and value proposition?  Spell it out, step-by-step from your buyers’ perspective, and train your sales team in the sales process.

    Keep it current by regularly assessing its effectiveness and tweaking it as needed.

  2. Maintaining an Up-to-Date Customer Information Resource
    Keep tabs on your current customers so you can stay up to date on their needs, their opportunities, and any role changes. The better you know your clients, the better able you are to address their most pressing problems and expand your network.
  3. Reviewing Sales Wins and Losses
    Work as a team to figure out what went wrong and what went right with both wins and losses. This is the best way to continuously improve your sales strategy, process, and skills.  Postmortems give the whole team an opportunity to learn how to get better at what they do and improve results.
  4. Sharing Knowledge
    As each individual seller improves, the team benefits as a whole. The most effective sales teams know how to share what they have learned and coach team members toward ever greater performance.

The Bottom Line
Don’t just check off Sales Training as done when the initial skill building workshop is over.  The real work of sales skill adoption is what counts.  As a sales leader, you can make huge performance improvements when you follow up training with a common methodology, supportive sales tools, continuous and shared learning.

To learn more about sales training reinforcement best practices, download The Transfer-of-Training: How to Connect the 2 Biggest Adoption Disconnects

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