Business objectives must be at the core of any successful training program, yet many organizations opt for a one-size fits all solution that doesn’t necessarily meet their own unique objectives.
For any sales team, an effective program must be linked directly to those overarching objectives, and the training organization must be clear on what the sales function is trying to achieve before the training begins. For many businesses, increasing margins or widening the scope of sales is just as important as increasing sales.
Once the objectives are defined, there are three steps to follow that will ensure the training program is a resounding success.
Step 1: Defining Outcomes
There are three key areas that will ensure that a training program will achieve its desired outcomes. These areas are the behaviors, tools and processes that the training must communicate to the sales team in order to provide context to the training experience and communicate the value it will bring to their roles.
If, for example, the desired training outcome is increased sales, then improved negotiation skills are an important area to focus on to ensure that the sales team is exceeding its targets by maximizing price and protecting margins during every sale.
Certain tools are required to support sales professionals in using their new skills. If the goal is achieving increased sales, the program should train the team in developing and applying strategies for setting, achieving and exceeding sales targets. Communicating value to the customer and delivering high-impact sales presentations are also high-value sales tools, as well as developing strategies for delivering first-class customer care.
Once the training has instigated behavioral change and imparted the associated tools, sales staff require a clear understanding of the processes to which they can apply those behaviors and tools. An in-depth understanding of the sales cycle and the buying process will enable sales professionals to understand their role from the sales side and from the buyer’s side, providing a contextual framework that will enable each individual to understand how, when and why he or she should be using the relevant skills and tools to achieve the sales team’s goals.
Step 2: Aligning the Blocks
Analyzing the existing capabilities within the team against the required behaviors, tools and processes is the next step in creating a training program that truly delivers on business objectives.
Identifying the gaps means determining whether the right skills, tools and processes are in place and whether the behaviors, skills and competences of individuals are at the levels that the organization expects. Once an organization has identified those gaps, it can define the blocks that build the program.
It’s important to ensure that the training is completely aligned and tailored to the company’s business and sales processes. If the training program involves activities, examples or case studies, they should all be presented in the context of the business.
Step 3: Formulating a Team Approach
Taking a team approach by co-training sales team members and sales managers in the same learning group will strengthen the program’s ability to support business objectives by creating a team environment.
The program must also provide the sales manager with the tools required to support the training in the workplace. That way, training will take place on the job as team members put into practice the skills, tools and processes they learned and repeat them until the new behaviors become natural.
Organizations often believe that short-term training programs are more cost-effective, but they are usually nothing more than a wasted expense, as sales teams are unable to achieve the behavioral change that would enable them to support the business in achieving its objectives. The protracted approach has proven value, enabling the team to continue learning over an extended period.
In order to encourage this drawn-out form of learning, organizations must give sales managers the skills to support and coach the team outside of the training sessions. For example, if communicating value more effectively in the sales process is an objective, the sales manager must understand that value in order to effectively coach the sales team. In turn, coaching becomes the core driver for the sales team’s progress toward achieving its objectives through sustained long-term learning.
With these three steps, sales training can deliver on business objectives.