U.S. companies spent $90.6 billion on training in 2017*. Of that, about $20 billion was spent on sales-specific training, representing an average expenditure of about $5000 per representative per year*.
Based on these numbers, we see that sales departments are investing heavily in training, but is it effective? In a survey of sales reps by CSO Insights, only about 42% said that their sales training either met or exceeded their expectations.
Clearly, there is room for improvement. Most classroom sales training is simply not following simple best practices to help salespeople get the most out of the training investment. These steps are not complicated or high tech (though technology can help with execution). They are straightforward and any training program can and should implement them. The five steps are: Tell, Show, Try, Observe, Feedback.
Great training starts with the same thing that most bad training starts with: Telling reps what to do and how to do it. This can take the form of classroom training or video and online training. The difference between effective training and ineffective training, is that the good stuff doesn’t stop here.
Closely related to step one, the show step involves demonstrating the process for the salesperson. This may take the form of demonstrations, role playing, or having them observe a more senior salesperson executing the desired skill or behavior.
In the third step, great trainers and coaches work with their reps to help them execute on the skill or behavior together. This may mean going out on a sales call together and sharing the communications, or it may mean that the rep tries out an activity or behavior while the manager or senior rep provides real-time guidance.
In the fourth stage, the sales rep has a chance to execute on the skill or behavior on their own, while their trainer observes silently. This can be done via recorded phone conversations or live listening in.
Finally, the sales leader provides feedback to the rep on what they’re doing well and what they can improve in their performance. Reps should also be encouraged to evaluate their own performance and initiate their own improvement process.
Some organizations simplify this process further into three steps by combining “tell” and “show,” and “observe” and “feedback.” Either way, it’s a simple approach that has been highly effective in sales training for decades and continues to represent best practice. But today, technology is making this approach even easier and more effective.
Online training and the availability of video as a training tool has significantly reduced the cost of the “tell” and “show” parts of sales training. In many cases, the need for training retreats and expensive classroom exercises has been reduced or eliminated.
Meanwhile, technology tools like Membrain support the entire training process from end to end.
Membrain supports telling and showing by allowing you to embed videos and other teaching tools into the salesperson’s workflow. In this way, a salesperson getting ready to make a prospecting call may be prompted to view a new training video on effective questioning, which they can watch without leaving their CRM. Likewise, training material can be embedded into any portion of the process, and can dynamically respond to opportunity-specific criteria to serve up material that is specifically relevant to the salesperson at that time.
Membrain supports the second two stages by providing coaches with access to detailed insights into the salesperson’s activities, communications, and progress through the sales process. This enables coaches to focus on observing the areas of the salesperson’s process that are most in need of improvement.
Finally, Membrain enables coaches to provide valuable feedback by using our analytics dashboard to quickly identify problem areas for each salesperson, to dig down and diagnose the cause of those problems, and to work directly with the salespeople to resolve them. Salespeople can use the same analytics to track their own performance and proactively seek training and coaching on their own.
I’d love to show you how Membrain is supporting sales training on teams like yours. Contact us for a customized demo.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.
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