Making Sales Training Stick

My CRM Magazine column, Two Methods for Sales Training Reinforcement We Are Not Using, received a lot of feedback and comments. Clearly many sales organizations realize that they have issues with sales training reinforcement and are looking for ways to overcome that challenge.

6.23.16A number of people questioned one of the observations I made about the role of sales managers in the sales training reinforcement process. I pointed out that when we asked companies that participated in CSO Insights 2016 Sales Performance Optimization study to share with us the methods they used for sales training reinforcement, number one on the list was manager-led reinforcement, which was cited by 69.4% of the survey participants.

This is an issue, because managers do not have the “time” available to effectively handle this task. People have asked me whether this should be part of the “coaching” managers do with the sales team members. Let me clarify my position. In a perfect world sales managers should be able to spend time coaching their teams on a variety of things, but we don’t live in a perfect world.

In our Sales Management Optimization surveys, when we have asked for a breakdown of how sales managers spend their time, on average they spend about one hour per week per salesperson on coaching. Now, 45 minutes of that hour is taken up by doing “opportunity-specific” coaching; how are we doing on deals, A, B, and C, etc. That leaves 15 minutes per week for coaching salespeople on effective territory management, pipeline building, account management, etc. And now you want to squeeze in responsibility for sales training reinforcement as well?

Continually dumping more work on the backs of sales managers is not an effective solution for overcoming the sales training reinforcement challenge that still exists today. That is why I went on in my column to advocate significantly increasing the role that technology can play in helping sales professionals practice the skills they were taught in sales training.

Technology has all the time in the world. On a 24/7 basis, advances in sales training reinforcement technology allow salespeople to practice using the skills they were taught, assess how proficient they are at applying those new skills, provide feedback on areas where improvement is needed, and, if a salesperson continues to struggle with a certain competency, then sure, let their sales manager know so they can do coaching-by-exception in those few cases.

Technology represents a very cost effective way to insure that sales training reinforcement actually gets done on a consistent basis, and it can free up sales managers to focus on handling all the other tasks they have on their plates already. For other ideas on how to optimize sales training reinforcement check out Oren Smilansky’s recent column in CRM Magazine, 11 Ways to Make Sales Training Stick.

Questions for you:

When you budget for training, are you including the cost for skills reinforcement?

What additional strategies and tactics could you implement to get your sales professionals to practice new skills before they try to apply them in the marketplace?

In addition to tracking adoption rates of sales process, are you measuring the effectiveness of skills application?

Related Blog Posts:

Is Social Selling Training Effective

Sales Process: Calculating the Cost of Doing Nothing

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