Maximizing Sales Effectiveness Through Effective Training
Legacy Sales Training Methods
Does this sound familiar? Sales representatives fly in from all over North America for your weekend sales training session. It’s expensive and people are grousing about losing a weekend, but how else can you get all the new product training done? Arrival is Friday, with a welcome dinner that evening. Next morning, eyes are red, heads are sore, and attention seriously wanes by 2pm. Seems to be a lot of people taking breaks for “customer calls,” although it’s the weekend. Sunday is a repeat of Saturday. Everyone heads home late Sunday evening.
Four months go by and it’s time to evaluate sales number. You hope to pinpoint just how much sales have jumped since that critical training event several months ago. But, there doesn’t appear to be any appreciable increase: Everyone is performing at much the same rate as always. Reps that meet or exceed their quota continue to do that; reps that don’t meet their quota, perform as usual.
Modern Sales Training Methods
Today’s forward-thinking organizations take learning to a new level. Sales representatives from all over North America participate in several scheduled virtual learning sessions on new products without having to leave home base. Sessions take place over a 2-week period, giving sales professionals the opportunity to maximize time in the field while still participating in this critical learning. After the 2-week training period, reinforcement and engagement programs kick in to keep the learning momentum high, and keep the sales force involved in a continuous learning program.
Four months later, you look at whether sales have improved since the original training event. When you evaluate individual performance against target numbers, you see that almost all of your sales reps have achieved a higher percentage of their quota. You take a look at the individual knowledge levels of each sales rep, and there appears to be a direct correlation between knowledge improvement and quota achievement.
Sales Effectiveness = Effective Training
We all know that better sales skills produce better sales performance. But we’ve never really questioned the fire hose approach to sales training—both for products and sales techniques. We thought this was the best way improve the abilities of our sales teams. But proven research into learning retention, combined with advances in technology, have changed this. Yet, many sales organizations seem to still be stuck in a legacy-style sales training model, with no appreciable return on investment.
What’s wrong with legacy training methods? Aside from the high expense of bringing the sales team together for training, there is really no solid technique to ensure that what people learn in their training sticks with them for any length of time. In fact, research proves that people lose almost 90% of what they learn within about a month. Not auspicious for a positive ROI.
Why are modern training methods so much better? With so much research into brain science and learning—as well as the emergence of sophisticated eLearning technology—we’ve finally figured out that it’s not training that produces better skills and performance. It’s how effective the training is that really makes the difference.
Brain science has defined several learning techniques that help improve the long-term effect of training, which allows people to leverage what they’ve learned, when and where they need to.
Techniques like spacing and repeated retrieval provide ongoing learning reinforcement so people never forget the important information—and, in fact, begin to maintain critical information for the long term. Confidence-based learning encourages people to carefully consider whether what they know is correct, and improves their confidence in their knowledge. And confidence in the right information is as critical to selling as knowing the product inside and out. Personalization means that people learn what’s relevant for them, in a manner that makes sense for them, and on the platform—such as mobile devices—they prefer; which makes learning easier and much more engaging.
When you leverage eLearning technology that applies these modern sales training techniques, all sales professionals—whether retail sales associates, high-end technology reps or pharmaceutical sales staff—can reap some big rewards:
- While you may still conduct in-person training, using eLearning technology to reinforce information after the big event helps ensure people remember more of what they learn for far longer, effectively using it to improve their performance.
- Learning doesn’t need to cut into selling time: Using intelligent eLearning technology, sales professionals can participate in short, daily learning reinforcement sessions—in as little as 5 minutes per day—before they begin work, or when they have a bit of down time.
- Frequent in-person training sessions can be transitioned to eLearning sessions, reducing travel costs as well as extended time away from the job.
- People sell what they know, so as knowledge and confidence in products or solutions grows, so will sales.
- Learning ROI can be dramatically improved—as people retain more of the knowledge they learn over much longer periods of time, the effect of training becomes more significant.
Are you currently using legacy sales training methods or are you taking sales training to a higher level? Feel free to share any challenges you’re facing or talk about your modern learning success.
Written by Laura Martin