Global sales training is frequently a Herculean endeavor, involving as it does numerous moving parts across nations. A successful, company-wide, international training event can create consistency across the organization, bolster a sales organization’s revenue long-term and improve frontline reps’ productivity. But in order to achieve those objectives, companies planning global sales training must first address and overcome the following potential hurdles.

1. Determining the Logistics of the Event

The most fundamental hurdle is to figure out the logistics: Is it more cost-effective to hold the event in one country (usually where company headquarters is located) or to host multiple training sessions in several nations? If the latter, does it make more sense to have a session in every country where you have a presence, or is it better to have regional training sessions in a central location that pulls from the surrounding countries?

The answers to these questions, of course, depend largely on the distribution of your sales force and territories. For example, if you have a small presence in a handful of countries, it might make sense to deliver training in a central meeting point or at corporate headquarters. Conversely, if you have large sales teams in three countries on three continents, then a trio of workshops — one per country — is likely the best option.

2. Conducting a Cost-benefit Analysis

Because global sales training can literally span the world, the costs can be considerable. Without weighing all the different pieces and line items, it can be easy to end up with unexpected overruns. But don’t be too focused on the number; remember that a well-executed global sales training initiative has payoffs in creating consistent messaging and positive customer experiences, in addition to helping develop the knowledge and skills of your worldwide sales force. These benefits help justify the use of resources.

When determining the logistics, factor in anticipated benefits and costs. The latter include not only the actual line items but also considerations such as:

  • Travel time.
  • How long the event will take under different models.
  • The suitability and availability of venues to host training sessions.
  • Technological capabilities, if the training is blended or digital.

Also, keep in mind that you might need to bring team members from different regions together for other business-related reasons. Global training events have the side benefit of creating networking and familiarization opportunities for team members from different countries, making collaboration easier.

3. Ensuring Effective Localization

Localization will arguably require a fair amount of resources and consideration. After you’ve established the logistics and set your goals, take a close look at how to localize your program. This process should include not only language differences but also differences in how the sales process and target market operate in a given region.

For example, you might need to translate written workshop and/or reinforcement tools and materials. In the classroom, you might need a real-time translator, whether that person is a native speaker, an outside translator or even one of the workshop participants. (This last option will have the added bonus of being further reinforcement for those learners; we remember things better when we tell or teach them to others).

Should you need translation services, be aware that a poor or inaccurate translation will negatively impact, if not completely ruin, the training event. Keep in mind that localization also involves adapting the curriculum and exercises to match the local culture. How buyers and sellers behave varies from country to country, and cultural expectations may also be different.

4. Providing Follow-up

As with all sales training, be certain that there’s sufficient reinforcement and follow-up coaching, whether it’s done in person, virtually or both. The logistics for this follow-up can be as complex as the actual training itself, but it’s crucial in order for learners to translate their new skills and knowledge into long-term behavior change.

A global sales training event can be an exciting, unifying experience for a multinational company — if it considers the four issues raised here to maximize outcomes and return on investment.