Investing in sales training to improve selling skills is one of the most important decisions any sales manager can make. But what’s the best way to find a sales training company that will get you great results? Here are seven key areas to consider as you evaluate different options.
Reputation and thought leadership
Shopping for a sales training provider starts with general research (either online or by word-of-mouth) about companies you might want to work with. First, consider the reputation of each potential partner, which would be a good starting point. You should also explore the content (blog posts, webinar recordings, white papers, reports, etc.) on their websites to assess their level of thought leadership.
General professionalism and responsiveness
Evaluate your initial interactions with potential providers. Are they responsive to your emails and phone calls? Are they good at building rapport with you? Do they know about your business? Do they ask you about your business goals and priorities, or do they talk mainly about themselves and their offerings? If they don’t seem invested in learning about your particular goals and needs, it’s probably wise to continue your search after all they are going to be teaching your people to sell so they should be modelling best practice.
Before you commit to any sales training program for skills improvement, you need to establish whether or not the program’s fits with your ethos and your customers expectations (they will be on the receiving end of the change in behaviour)
Ask questions like “How will this program result in the behaviour change and skills improvement we want?” What case studies do you have where you have affected change? How will you help us evaluate and follow up on the training?
Typically sales training companies should share enough of their content to give you a sense of whether or not it is a good fit for you (if they don’t, that’s a red flag). When evaluating content, look for alignment of at least 80% between the company’s curriculum and the skills you want to address. For example, if you want to improve your sales team’s negotiation skills, make sure the curriculum addresses that particular skill set in enough depth. If negotiation skills make up only a fraction of the company’s core curriculum, this particular training program will not address your needs.
Almost all sales training programs will require some level of customisation to fit the individual needs of a given sales organisation. So things to consider: –
- The issue of customisation is particularly important for sales organisations that feature a variety of sales roles. Let’s say your sales organisation is made up of new business development reps, account executives, and strategic account managers. Obviously, each of these roles requires different skills. Therefore, it’s important to make sure the curriculum can be custom tailored to address the specific sales roles and the associated skills.
- Role play and scenarios are relevant and reflect the real reality of your business If your sales training initiative requires a high level of customisation, you definitely want to work with a sales training consultant who can understand your business, industry, products and services, and competitive challenges. Any practice sessions need to be about your products, services and customers not something generic that is just lazy.
You also want great instructional designers and facilitators. Ask the potential partner to send bios or arrange a call with the proposed account team you will be working with, so you can evaluate the project team’s experience and background. Have a demo with some of your team to evaluate the style of delivery, is it interactive, challenging and dynamic and fit with your company culture. Are the facilitators approachable, likeable and focused on the learning and not on themselves?
Your investment in training is predicated on improving selling skills and associated sales behaviours. As such, you should look for programs that include reinforcement components as well as pre- and post-training assessments. Make sure the plan is holistic and that you clearly understand what will happen before, during, and after training to ensure training application and adoption by the participants.
Recommendations and success stories
As a final point, you should ask to speak to current clients. While the above points will help you narrow in on the right training partner, it is reassuring to speak with other clients to understand their experience and outcomes. It’s not enough to have the sales training provider send you case studies or training success metrics. You really need to talk to other clients and ask, “What was it like working with this particular training provider? What were your objectives, and did the program meet those objectives? How has the training impacted sales performance?”
By exploring the areas above, you should be well on your way to selecting the right partner for your sales training initiative. If you want to find out more about how we meet all of the above criteria and would like a free demo with no obligation drop us a line.