Why Sales Training Programs Fail
Now that the decision has been made to move forward with a sales training initiative, the budget has been approved, the training partner selected, all that is left to do is assign the project to someone who will own the program within the organization. This is never as easy as it might seem. Depending on the size of the organization or company, they may already be resource-constrained. So even though the sales training is considered a priority, sometimes the mistake is assigning the success of the program to someone who is already fully employed within the organization and is now required to shepherd the sales training initiative as well.
Another potential danger zone here is assigning the sales training program to someone who has never been in sales, participated in sales training, or doesn’t understand what sales and selling are all about. They have zero knowledge or experience in what the selling environment feels like or what a day in the life of a salesperson entails. Another idea that fails more than it succeeds is when an organization tries to identify someone within the sales team to take on the project. And usually, it is a vice president or sales leader who gets assigned the task of making sure the project succeeds. And, oh, by the way, make sure they also meet or exceed their revenue targets while trying to manage the roll-out and implementation of a new sales training program. When making the investment in a professional sales training program, why not make sure that there is a sales savvy primary point of contact who’s sole responsibility is making sure the sales training program is wildly successful?
Think increase in revenue, improved margins, reduced turnover, shorter sales cycles, expanded wallet share, etc.
If the program fails the person who owned the program could be at fault, even though they may have had two or three other roles or projects they were managing at the same time. The sales training partner could receive the brunt of the blame as the company claims it was the content, the process, or the system that was flawed. However, if there is one primary owner of the program, and who is ultimately responsible for the success of the program which will be determined by the achievement of the goals of the program, the company will increase the likelihood of meeting with success and avoid failure and loss of their investment.
Best Practice #1: Find someone on the Learning and Development Team who has experience with sales, salespeople, and sales processes. If this person doesn’t exist on the team, recruit for that person or use a partner who can fulfill that function. There are outsourcing options to help maximize the success of your sales training program.
Best Practice #2: Don’t penalize anyone on the sales team by assigning them the task of ensuring the success of the training program while also required to meet or exceed quota expectations. This is an unfair expectation and usually doesn’t end well. There is so much to be gained by a successful program, so if a vice president or other sales leader is the best option to manage the program, compensate them fairly for the success of the program.
Best Practice #3: Don’t expect the training company that you have selected to partner with to fill this role. The training company will have terrific coordinators and customer care teams, but at the end of the day, they also serve other customers. You want them doing what they do best, however, if you really want to increase the odds that your program is wildly successful, have someone within your organization, or who is a partner with your best interest in mind, own the success of the sales training program.
Remember, sales training is about relevancy. The sales team needs to know and believe in the person and the team who will be responsible for making sure that their experience and participation in the training will be of value.