Why Sales Training Programs Fail
Relevancy drives active participation. Programs tend to fail when the trainer or training organization and the client skip the critical step in discovery to share current best practices, previous training ideas, and concepts that are in use and still working to some degree. And training companies often make the mistake of thinking that all they need to do is show up and train their program regardless of what information has been collected and transferred.
There are some world-class training organizations out there, and there are tremendous trainers who have vast knowledge and experience. However, why programs fail is because sometimes trainers will revert to entertainment or ‘entertrainment’ and mix in too many jokes, anecdotes, and personal stories. When done in moderation these truly enhance the learning experience, but if the trainer does a good job of entertaining and a poor job of transferring the knowledge, the participants may have had a great time, but unfortunately learned very little.
Knowledge capture and knowledge transfer will certainly help the facilitator to be better prepared and will have a tremendous benefit for the participants as discussions, exercises, and role-plays are all built and delivered around relevancy. Companies looking to partner with the right training organization will make sure that they invest the time and resources during the planning phases to make sure that the training organization has a much better understanding of what is going on in a typical day-in-the-life of the sales team. What challenges do they face, what opportunities do they have, how many opportunities are they working where they find themselves in a competitive situation, who are the competitors, what are the differentiators, what is the value, why do they win, why do they lose, etc.
When the sales training company is armed with this type of insight into the client’s world, and they can adapt their selling system and share their stories in the right context, the time that both companies invested in knowledge capture will pay huge dividends in the classroom through knowledge transfer. It will no longer be seen as just another training event or program, the classroom experience will be elevated beyond relevancy, and active participation will help the participants retain so much more of the content/program.
Best Practice #1: Invest the time to make sure that the internal learning and development team understands what is happening within their sales teams. Invest the time with the training partner to help them better understand where the best opportunities for growth might be. As a client, share as much information as possible about previous programs that worked and where some of the content or techniques are still being widely used.
Best Practice #2: Make the sales team available to the training partner. Telephone interviews are an easy way to share information. Going on sales calls and seeing firsthand how the sales team is currently selling is a powerful way to capture relevant knowledge. Listening to live calls or recorded calls is also extremely helpful in learning current questioning and qualifying tactics, as well as hearing objections or concerns and how they are currently being handled. Make sure the leadership and sales managers also participate so that the training company can see the situation through the ears and eyes of the management team.
Best Practice #3: Assessments. If assessments and surveys have been completed, share these outcomes with the training partner. The data gathered from behavior and competency assessments, personality style and communication preferences, and a solid skills gap analysis will help the training partner to combine that data with their anecdotal experiences and information gathered through the interviews, field visits, and listening to sales calls.
Remember, proper knowledge capture and knowledge transfer are often missed. When both the client and the training partner take the time to understand the real-world selling environment and build or adapt content and programs that will create a better learning experience, the program will succeed, and the outcome will be better sales results. When sales training programs fail is when the training partner either doesn’t incorporate what they learned through discovery, or they do not do any discovery, and they just rely on their selling system and methodology and just teach it as is, off the shelf.