Sales training is big business. Every year, organizations pour millions of dollars into sending their teams to workshops, conferences, online programs, and bringing in onsite training. Every year, most of that investment goes straight down the drain.
Salespeople come out of these events pumped up, with some new tools in their toolboxes, excited to change their lives and their performance all at once. But as the weeks and months go by, they begin slipping back into bad habits. Or the new habits never really get applied to begin with.
And meanwhile, sales performance continues to lag… and lag… and lag.
Sales leaders love to blame this on laziness or non-compliance, or come to the conclusion that some people just aren’t suited for the job. Company executives sigh and sign off on more investment, because what are the alternatives? And anyway, it must be doing some good, right, all that training? A necessary evil.
Why your sales training actually sucks
The problem is that most sales training is offered in a vacuum, and is built on a false foundation. That false foundation is the assumption that if salespeople just know how to do better, they will.
But the reality is that salespeople are human beings, and human beings are naturally resistant to change. We do not like to change our habits or behaviors, and we resist it even when we know it’s good for us.
This is also why most workout programs and diets fail. We know it will change our lives for the better, but we still don’t do it.
How to make your sales training not suck
The solution to the problem isn’t more sales training. It’s not even better sales training.
It lies instead in closing the gap between the training and execution.
It lies in aligning the systems and technology with the behaviors you expect from your salespeople, so that their workflows reinforce the training, so that the analytics allow their coaches to see where they’re using their training and where they need nudging, and so that it’s easier for them to execute on their training than to slide back into old behaviors.
How to align technology with training
Step One: Choose a flexible, process-oriented CRM
The first step in making your training stick is to choose software that can be customized and streamlined to make it easy to reinforce.
You want a suite that provides built-in capability to establish stages, milestones, and activities that guide salespeople through your process and methodology. It should enable you to easily embed on-demand training and resources at each point in the process. And it should provide immediate visibility for sales managers and salespeople to see where they are skipping steps, and what’s missing from their information gathering.
It should also be easy to customize, not requiring a lot of expensive plug-ins and customization by programmers to align it with your strategy and process.
Step Two: Align the technology with your strategy and process
With the right software, you can build a workflow that supports and reinforces training at every point of the salesperson’s day, while keeping them in the flow of their workday.
The workflow should align with your customer-focused strategy and process, at both a high level and at the granular level. It should guide salespeople through qualification processes, remind them to gather the right information at each point, and keep them at the right pace throughout the sales journey.
It should also align with your training to provide reminders and on-demand resources to make it easy for salespeople to apply what they learn in their training.
Step Three: Optimize continually
When training and technology are aligned, data and analytics from the software can be used to identify the skills, behaviors, and activities that work. This information can then be used to optimize your strategy and process and be fed back into the training to ensure that best practices for your organization are continually updated and applied across your sales teams.
Organizations frequently hire sales consultants to help them design better sales strategies and choose appropriate sales training. Increasingly, these same organizations are realizing that without the right technology to support and enable the strategy, process, and training, much of that investment will go to waste.
I spoke with a sales consultant recently who lost a major bid because his company hadn’t aligned their technology with their strategy and training services. They had simply included technology as a line item, without assessing how the specific technologies would be used to reinforce the rest of the recommendation.
It’s time for more consultants and executives at sales organizations to make this change. Those who do will quickly outperform those who do not.
Want to find out how Membrain makes it easy to execute on the strategy and training you invest in? Contact us and let’s chat.