Sales training is big business; in fact, Training Industry research has found that organizations around the world spend about $2.8 billion on sales training. There is a good reason for this spending; CSO Insights reports that salespeople who complete a highly rated sales training program achieve a 10% percent higher win rate than salespeople who complete a training program that “needs improvement,” and Accenture reportedly found that for every dollar a company invests in training, it receives about $4.53 in return — a return on investment (ROI) of 353%.

Simply put, sales training with a trusted outside partner is one of the best investments a company can make in its sales force. However, with a multitude of companies to choose from, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. To be effective, organizations must look at their teams and data to determine their opportunities and choose a training program with a partner that can help them close gaps. To that end, here are a few things that make for a great sales training partner:

1. It Addresses Your Sales Challenges

One of the first things to look at is the provider’s curriculum. Does it address the specific areas in your sales process that consistently come up short? For example, a team struggling to build its pipeline may benefit from training that targets prospecting, while a team that has difficulty managing and growing relationships may benefit from training on account management.

In addition, inquire about customization options to fit your specific needs. Examples that relate to your unique processes can improve relevancy and gain buy-in from your team, ensuring the success of the training.

2. It Provides Delivery Options That Meet Your Needs

Another consideration is delivery. Training options may include virtual instructor-led training (VILT); remote, self-paced eLearning; in-person training; or a blended approach. Choose a provider that can satisfy your specific needs. For example, dispersed sales team may benefit from VILT to reduce travel costs, while a team with a large centralized office may prefer in-person training.

Blended learning is an alternative delivery option that combines traditional in-person or online classroom training with self-paced coursework. This approach leverages a number of collaboration and gamification techniques and may appeal to larger groups with a broad set of learning preferences.

Another option may be a train-the-trainer solution in which trainers or managers go through the training and facilitation certification process in order to deliver the training to their staff. It’s ideal for organizations that frequently onboard new sales talent and have the capability to deliver the training themselves.

3. It Has Excellent Training Facilitators

In addition to the company’s salespeople or executives, learn about the trainers who will be working with your team. While some trainers have more of an academic background, others have experience as sales reps or sales leaders who “carried a bag” in diverse industries. These facilitators can usually adapt to the unique challenges faced by your team.

Also, ask about their trainers’ styles. Like all teachers, sales trainers are a varied group. Some are funny and tell great sales stories; others are serious and methodical. Interactivity and engagement are essential components of successful sales training, so choose a trainer with a personality and style that will reach your team.

4. It Provides Research and Thought Leadership

The research and thought leadership a sales training organization provides can be a good indicator of its training’s effectiveness. The best training companies conduct original research that shows the breadth of their knowledge, ensuring that their training methods are at the forefront of the always-changing selling landscape. Evidence of thought leadership also reduces risk by ensuring the training you purchase is proven to drive results.

5. It Offers a Comprehensive Training Solution

The success of any sales training depends on how much of the material is retained and used on the job. Choose a training provider that provides a variety of strong reinforcement options. Best-in-class training providers have training sustainment offerings that turn new knowledge into long-term behavior change. These offerings may include self-paced, digital learning applications; coaching programs directly delivered to training participants; or entire coaching systems that equip sales leaders with the skills and tools to effectively coach their reps following the initial training.

6. It Achieves Tangible Results

The best indicator of successful sales training is the results it produces. Before choosing a training provider, ask to see the measurable results it has achieved from its training. Inquire about previous clients, and ask for testimonials and case studies that illustrate the work the provider performed. Many sales training companies shy away from results, while others address and share results head-on.

In both cost and time, sales training represents a significant investment in a vital resource: your sales team. When choosing a sales training partner, remember that training should never be a one-off event. To be successful, learning and development (L&D) must be an ongoing pursuit. You’re not picking a band to play at a party; you are engaging a strategic partner that can, over time, grow and develop with your organization. Of all the relationships your team builds and deals you close, choosing the right sales training provider can be one of the most significant for the long-term success of your organization.

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