U.S. companies spend an average of $1,459 training each new salesperson — almost 20% more than they spend on workers in all other functions. Yet, when it comes to equipping sales teams with relevant knowledge and skills, the ROI of sales training is disappointing.
Many companies limit training to on-boarding and new product training. Salespeople aren’t usually provided with coaching or given serious performance evaluations during which development (not only compensation) is discussed.
To increase retention and effectiveness, companies should offer reps additional training at times of need, provide them with access to supplemental material that reinforces what they’ve already been taught, and allow them opportunities to practice their skills in time frames connected to actual buying processes. They can do so by using the same technologies that are “disrupting” their customer-contact activities: videos and mobile apps that reps can view on their devices before, during and after training initiatives.
In addition to providing reps with easier and timelier access to information, videos and apps improve comprehension when someone hears information, they remember about 10% of it three days later, but, when a picture is added, retention increases to 65%.
Here are some ways to incorporate better technology into training:
Salespeople must learn about strategy and sales tasks at your firm, not only a generic sales methodology. They must learn how other functions affect, and are affected by, selling activities: for example, product management, marketing, pre-sale application support, and post-sale service. They don’t need to know how to do those jobs. But increasingly they do need to know what those jobs are and how they affect customers.
Because of this, on-boarding should be treated as an on-going process, not a one-off event. This can be achieved through a smart combination of on-site and on-demand videos that can be used anytime and anywhere while delivering consistent messages to your reps.
In order for reps to develop new behavioral skills, they must practice a behavior multiple times before it becomes comfortable and effective. And it has to be related to a relevant task. If salespeople are motivated by a deal, they’ll be more incentivized to learn. In other words, in order for training to be effective, you’ll need to deliver the content at a time of need.
Technology can help make this happen, allowing reps to continuously learn from mobile content that is customized to their needs. When combined with traditional training, this approach helps reps turn product, market and selling factoids into coherent narratives and behavioral models.
Like other professionals, salespeople improve by identifying specific areas where they must improve and then receiving clear feedback on performance. Feedback is crucial to getting people to practice the right things, eliminate bad or outdated habits, set priorities and clarify accountabilities owned by the rep versus the manager or the firm — all keys to effective sales leadership.