Commentary & Analysis
Effective Sales Training Starts with Strategy
Print service providers with the highest growth rates employ great salespeople, so investing in your salespeople makes sense—especially with the rapid rate of change in our industry. New technologies and evolving buyer behaviors leave us with no choice; we either continue to learn or we become obsolete. Print service providers often believe that sales training is the key to closing more deals. Although this is a sound belief, it’s only part of the story. This article explores ways to ensure that your sales training investment pays off.
By Keypoint Intelligence
Published: December 19, 2019
- When business owners fail to achieve the next level of growth, they often rely on sales training opportunities to motivate their salespeople.
- A clear and consistent vision across your business is vital for success.
- One of the biggest blunders that businesses make when investing in sales training is not establishing an accountability program that picks up where the training left off.
By Karen Kimerer
A well-trained sales team is the lynchpin to the success of your business growth. Print service providers (PSPs) of all sizes are investing in sales training to refine the skills of their brand ambassadors, but they are often puzzled when this investment fails to move the needle. While many things could be to blame, the failure to improve sales is often the result of the PSP’s strategy—or lack thereof.
The underlying goal of every PSP is centered on building a profitable business. When business owners fail to achieve the next level of growth, they often rely on sales training opportunities to motivate all of their salespeople—regardless of whether they’re newbies or seasoned professionals. Sales training can make it easier for personnel to find new prospects and gain more wallet share from current customers. The goal and hope at the conclusion of the training event is that the salespeople will pick up an idea, take it into the field, and close business deals that they wouldn’t have prior to their training. Although achieving this goal is certainly possible, making the investment can be an expensive gamble given the time, resources, and cost of good sales training.
To pave the path toward predictable sales improvement, it is important to consider three key components that surround all good sales training efforts:
- Sales Process
If you don’t have a well-defined organizational strategy, it’s pointless to invest in sales training. A clear and consistent vision for your business—one that everyone in your company (particularly the salespeople!) can articulate—is vital. Do they see what you see? Ensuring that everyone has the same vision can remove many of the barriers to success. Do the activities of your sales team, align to the overall vision? Think about the behaviors that you’re hoping to drive, and be specific about what you want your salespeople to accomplish. Next, seek answers to where you and your team should place the most effort and focus. Develop an understanding of the markets and industries that make the most sense for your business, and provide direction on the products, services, and solutions that ensure those opportunities.
Once the big picture has become clear, you’re one step closer to optimizing an investment in sales training. Remember that the power of your strategy will accelerate with a well-defined sales process. While many sales training efforts come equipped with an established process that should be followed, that process might not align to the needs of your buyers. Take the time to inspect each step and the subsequent activities to ensure that they match up with your buyers’ unique journey.
PSPs that operate without a well-defined sales process—one that the sales team can articulate in unison—place an unnecessary burden on the sales training investment. Any investments will simply be falling into a money pit. In short, the approach to every sales opportunity should directly coincide with the results achieved. Did you earn the business or lose the opportunity? The efforts to move the prospect through to the process and successfully close the business should be supported by the skills applied at each step and activity. If you’re investing in sales training to help with your win rates, for example, it’s critical to understand where in the process the opportunity stalls or at what point you learn the buyer selected a competitor. The value of a good sales process cannot be underestimated!
One of the biggest blunders that businesses make when investing in sales training is not establishing an accountability program that picks up where the training left off. Research has consistently shown that any knowledge gained will be lost within days of delivery without a system to reinforce the skills practiced during sales training. Many of the exercises and efforts applied during the sales training process may feel a bit like learning a foreign language. An accountability plan makes it easier for busy sales professionals to apply what they’ve learned rather than taking the easy way out and reverting to the behaviors they’re most comfortable with. Much like your sales process, an accountability plan sets clear expectations and reinforces the importance of the training investment and the goals that it hopes to achieve.
The Bottom Line
Sales organizations are always seeking ways to improve their overall business performance. At the end of the day, well-trained sales professionals can provide a very strong competitive advantage. When your purpose is clear, your process to engage with prospects and customers will be well-organized and understood. Sales training is one of the best investments you can make, so make the commitment and employ a culture of accountability!
Karen Kimerer, Director of InfoTrends’ Business Development Strategies consulting service, has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products.