Why Sales Training Programs Fail
How much does a sales training program cost? That is really the wrong question, isn’t it? After all, many times the reason that a sales training program fails is that it was never properly budgeted from the beginning. And it is the wrong question for at least a couple of reasons.
First, when considering the implementation of a sales training program for your organization, there are certain factors that need to be explored before establishing a budget.
- How many people are you going to put through the training?
- How many locations will there be?
- How many people in each classroom?
- Are you looking for just one training session for each person with no reinforcement?
- Are you looking for a complete program with follow-on training, coaching, and reinforcement?
- Are you looking for an online-only solution?
- Will customization to your company and industry be required?
There could be other factors that will determine the proper budget, but those are the big ones.
The second reason it is the wrong question to ask is because the professional development of the sales organization or anyone within your organization should be seen as an investment. If you really believe that this is a cost to your company, do not move forward with the training. Sales training is an investment, an investment in driving revenue; improving margins; increasing win rates; building deeper and stronger relationships with clients resulting in greater retention, more renewals, and additional upsell/cross-sell opportunities; reducing the turnover within your sales team (which by the way is extremely costly); reducing sales cycle time; and developing bench strength that can grow into management and leadership roles within the company. The simple truth is that there are excellent training organizations out there who can help you in all the areas mentioned above and more. The investment may seem like a lot when first exploring your options but when you figure out that in most cases you will receive a return on that investment of 10X, 20X, and more, in some cases greater than 100X. Yes, the process will be harder than you think and come with a greater investment than you may have been ready for, and it will take longer than you think. But in the end, the results and improvement in the KPI’s that are most important to you will be improved, increased, expanded, or reduced.
Best Practice #1: Don’t let training be a discretionary line item in your budget. Competition is only going to get together as buyers have access to more information and have a greater sense of who they want to work with. Top performing companies make sure that their sales teams are always focused on learning as much as possible so they can add as much value to the customer as possible. This will allow for greater protection of your business and give them the opportunity to usurp the competition as they win net new business.
Best Practice #2: When budget really is an issue or limited, for the time being, smart organizations take a close look at who they should be training first. Most will focus on the moveable middle, specifically those leaning more toward the top-performing side of the bell curve. Eventually expanding to include more salespeople and sales managers in the program, but when faced with a needed change and improvement in win ratios sooner rather than later, organizations will identify a subset that has the greatest potential for near-term success and train them first.
Best Practice #3: You get what you pay for. So, make sure that you do your due diligence and partner with an organization that has a proven track record of success. Companies looking to truly move the needle avoid short-term solutions that will not deliver the revenue or margin results they were hoping to achieve. This is when companies begin looking at quick-fix solutions or low-cost solutions such as online-only training programs. Online training programs are terrific when structured properly, used as pre-work and post-work, and as a reinforcement tool.
Remember, think investment and not cost. When considering a training partner or building your own program, keep in mind that cutting this budget number might sound like an easy and good place to save some short-term dollars, but when invested properly you could be looking at 10X, 20X, and possibly more than 100X return on your investment.