Effective Sales Training in Focus: How Training Creates a Competitive Advantage

  • Sales Xceleration Team
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Effective sales training is an important part of sales success to virtually any company. And yet, most organizations fail to recognize how vital Sales Rep training can be AND how it can be used to gain a critical competitive advantage. Let’s examine the scope of the problem, the opportunity effective sales training creates, and how successful Sales Rep training helps you gain the upper hand on your competition:

The Problems

While most business owners and Sales Managers would agree that effective sales training is important, the definition of “effective” varies. What’s more, even if successful Sales Rep training can be quantified, actually designing, conducting, and managing sales training can be challenging – especially for the smaller business.

Just how serious is the problem? We turned to our Sales Agility Assessment (SAA) 4.0 to find out. The SAA 4.0 tool analyzes sales management practices and sales performance behaviors at SMBs across the U.S. Results have been compiled from hundreds of responses, primarily from business owners, CEOs and sales team leaders, including VPs of Sales and Sales Managers. Here’s what the SAA 4.0 revealed:

Only 36.7% of respondents say they have clear objectives to evaluate effectiveness of their sales training. In other words, slightly more than one in three respondents even measure sales training effectiveness. (Note that this does not necessarily indicate the actual effectiveness of the training.) So, the problem is two-fold: 1) the effectiveness of sales training isn’t being evaluated, and 2) in the absence of effectiveness measures, the quality of sales training is suspect.

The bottom line is this – time has been spent on sales training, but it has been effectively thrown away if you don’t know if it is effective, if you don’t know where it is deficient and if you don’t know how to supplement the training to fill in the gaps of knowledge.  That doesn’t sound like a good return on investment does it?

The Opportunity

If your company does quantify, measure, understand and deliver effective sales training – congratulations! Because this practice is so rare for small and medium-sized businesses, chances are you have a leg up on your competition. Think about it – if you are among the few who deliver effective sales training, you are probably performing far above your competitors. And because effective sales training is measured in sales results, you will benefit in several ways. You will probably have better quality sales prospects in the pipeline. You will likely have higher quality leads. And you will be more likely to convert those leads to sales. Advantage: you!

The Solution

Obviously, to gain that competitive advantage you must be among the few companies that provide effective sales training. You must first define success, design your sales training to achieve that success and then evaluate the effectiveness of that sales training to make sure you hit the mark – and if you didn’t, supplement your training, with ongoing education to fill in any gaps. And finally, you must measure, monitor, and manage sales activities to truly gauge the ongoing effectiveness of your Sales Rep training. This is necessary because market conditions, your product mix, and your sales team dynamics can change, even in the short term.

Another finding from Sales Xceleration’s SAA 4.0 is that 47% of Sales Managers provide the Sales Rep with one week of sales training and then send the Rep into the field, with no training follow-up. This makes it virtually impossible to improve the quality and effectiveness of sales training based on real-world client- and prospect-facing conditions.

The Bottom Line:

At Sales Xceleration, we place a great deal of strategic emphasis on sales training. Every day, our nationwide network of licensed Advisors – serving as fractional or outsourced VPs of Sales – help clients design, deliver, and manage sales training. The sales training needs of each organization vary, of course, but we typically recommend one week of concentrated sales training followed by two weeks of field application. We believe it is important to then bring the Sales Rep back in to review objectives and results. At that point, you might conduct individual sales coaching and additional training if necessary.

Does your organization need help understanding and improving its sales practices? To find out, take our Sales Agility Assessment 1.0. This free version of the SAA includes 10 questions that can quickly highlight areas where your organization needs improvement, including training. Then, to find your nearest Sales Xceleration Advisor, click here, or contact us at 844.874.7253.