Sales training strategy is a vital component of managing a sales team. Here are 10 things to think about as you look at the way your salespeople learn and develop.

Sales Training Strategy Cs: 10 Focus Areas

Challenge: What’s the goal? Be clear about the objective. “Increase market share by 10 percent in a flat market”, “Generate 50 percent of revenue from our top 10 percent of accounts”. “Failure only comes when we forget our ideals, objectives and principles”. Agree what success looks like before going ahead with training.

Clarify: It is essential to have a clear and accurate picture of the current situation. This means a clear analysis of data using the powerful tools available to understand why the sales outcomes are at current levels, and what is really needed for tomorrow.

Create: Don’t settle for “the same old same old.” Demand excellent training design, strong concepts and innovative approaches. Use traditional and new techniques in the classroom and in the virtual space.

Collaborate: The best training comes from working together with the different stakeholders: Line management, L&D, the participants themselves.

Communicate: Tell people in advance what to expect and why it’s happening. The “why frame” is absolutely essential before you start and at the start of each session.

Commitment: This all about changed behavior and this needs a commitment from line managers to encourage and coach-in the new practices until they become part of business as usual. 70/20/10 is a vital approach for embedded sales learning. It also needs effective implementation resources designed–in from the start and not retrofitted as an afterthought.

Codify: The systems need to measure and support implementation. For example, if the KPIs do not align with changes you want to see then the impact of the learning will be limited.

Check: Measurement is key. Kirkpatrick’s four levels of measurement still work to identify the response to the training, changes in understanding and thinking, changed actions and changed the result.

Combine: Stand-alone sales training simply doesn’t work. It’s been well recognized but it still happens. Changes in behavior come when the three sales levers are operated in concert:

  • Activity – Changes in the intensity of customer contact consistently drive changed results
  • Concentration of focus – Equip people to concentrate on the right offerings with the right people in the right organizations
  • Effectiveness – Changing the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the sales team will produce results if put into practice and if combined with the first two levers

Change: Every week seems to bring new insights into how people learn, apply and succeed. Developments in neuroscience demand that we adapt our ways of working. As Dr. Michael Merzenich (co-founder of Scientific Learning) puts it: “We established that the brain is modified on a substantial scale, both physically and functionally, each time we learn a new skill or develop a new ability. Our brains were created to reinvent and reconfigure themselves throughout our lifetime. This ability is known as brain plasticity.”

This concept is very exciting. It means that good learning approaches can go more than skin deep and can provide significant and lasting benefits to individuals and their organizations.