Richard Stone looks at the considerations for organising sales training. The importance of evaluating the effectiveness and what to look out for.
Sales training is organised and carried out very differently from business to business. Many companies regularly train their employees in a planned way,Guest Posting whereas others only train sporadically.
Training for sales people is not cheap. On top of the direct costs, there is also the cost of ‘lost’ time that the salespeople could have spent actively selling. Because of this, it is important to ensure all sales training is effectively planned, organised and implemented. In the article below some of the key areas relating to the planning of training, together with who should be responsible for managing the whole process, are discussed. How does your business compare?
Who is responsible for deciding on the training programme? In large businesses the sales manager and/or in-house sales trainer are responsible for these decisions. However, in smaller companies the Managing Director or Senior Executive is responsible for training matters.
Who sets the training budget? In large companies only a third of the budget is set by the business management with the most important role being played by the training department, followed by the sales managers. In smaller companies the order is reversed: in most cases responsibility for the budget lies with the business management, followed by the sales managers.
If technical competence primarily controls budgeting for training matters in large businesses, in smaller ones the responsibility follows the formal hierarchy.
Who plans and organises the sales training? In over 90% of large businesses the training department is responsible. In smaller businesses either the business or the sales management have the responsibility. It is astonishing that with such an important task there is often very little co-operation between the responsible parties.
Who delivers the sales training? In the majority of large companies the in-house trainers carry out the training and in the third of all businesses they are supported by sales managers. In smaller companies, as a rule, the training is carried out by Sales Managers. However, more and more companies are seeking external suppliers to provide structured sales training programs.
Co-ordination and communication. Trainers should obtain feedback from the sales leadership at every step. Even if this starts by increasing the costs of planning, the improved communication between the sales manager and trainer will lead to a better prepared and, above all, more targeted training session. In this context intensive questioning of those to be involved in the training is important.
Who Sets specific, measurable goals? Business management, sales management, training departments and training suppliers must determine the training goals and outcomes together. Agreement of goals and outcomes prior to delivering training ensures everyone pulls in the same direction and the training is designed to achieve these goals.
Once the goals have been defined they should be communicated to everyone involved in the training. In particular, it is very important that the goals are explained to the participants and that this happens before the training session. Participants should be briefed on what they should learn and why they need what they are going to learn! This should be done by their sales manager.
Who selects the delegates? Where courses are of various levels it is important that the delegates attend the correct level of training. So before every training course the standard of the participants’ knowledge should be determined. This assessment should be by the line manager, often in partnership with the trainer. Of course, the following classifications can be applied to parts or individual topics within a general course and used to focus delegates on particular areas for improvement.
Vague idea. The people just know that this problem/phenomenon exists. Example: they have heard or read the term ‘Trade Marketing’, but do not know what it is about.
Partial knowledge. Knowledge is partial or superficial. They have ‘heard something ringing but do not know where the bells are’.
Understanding. The subject being discussed is well known the