The average organization spends about $2,000 per salesperson on sales training, according to a report by the Association for Talent Development. And that doesn’t even include expenses for annual sales kickoff meetings when sales teams pause from selling and gather in party meccas like Orlando or Las Vegas to learn about new products, practice new skills, and hang out at the bar too late. All told, companies spend approximately $15 billion on training sales staff, LinkedIn says.
Is this money well spent? Well first, we should probably ask what are they spending this money for? What is the goal? Sales leaders want to empower their people with improved skills that will help them perform better at key moments, so they can sell more effectively, and deliver more deals. Will old-school training classes and mega-meetings deliver this? Too often the answer is a resounding no.
When it comes to setting salespeople up for consistent success and growth, the traditional sales training model is fundamentally broken. With an approach that is too episodic, inconvenient, and not tailored to the individual, sales training tends to be delivered in a way that shortchanges both the business and its sales teams.
It’s time for a reboot because it's clear that sales teams need ongoing, human support to adopt new skills. More on that later. First, let’s drill down into five key problems with the status quo.
Problem #1 - Training is too infrequent
Typically, the sales leadership will wait for a critical mass of needs before scheduling training – for example, a sales paradigm that executives want teams to adopt or brush up on, some other strategic shift at the company, or a rush of new team members who need to be onboarded.
Or they simply tack on training to some other event when everyone will be together, such as that sales kickoff meeting at Disney World. Time literally is money in sales, so leaders usually wait until training seems absolutely necessary before pulling people “off the road.”
This might work if every salesperson had the memory of an elephant, but the chances of retaining information for more than three months are low. Several studies have shown that within 90 days of training, more than three-quarters of what people have been taught is forgotten – regardless of the quality of the material or experience.
Training and support are most effective when it is delivered when you need it. Talent guru Josh Bersin refers to it as "learning in the flow of work" -- meaning that you can get the content or support you need when you must demonstrate a new skill or behavior, giving you tools you need to deliver at the moment. Traditional training methods seldom provide that. But what if you could provide your sales teams with on-demand, 1:1 coaching? TaskHuman’s flexible, multi-faceted coaches are available in real-time to support your team, help them build confidence in their pitch, and receive real-time feedback along the way.
Problem #2 - Training is one-size-fits-all
In most organizations, sales training is designed to meet the needs of the majority, regardless of each individual seller’s distinct needs or goals.
Truth is, it takes a panoply of skills and traits to succeed in sales. But there’s no way all of those can be addressed in a single training session, so a bell curve effect occurs. At one end, a significant number of people already are adept at what’s being taught and thus feel it’s a waste of time; at the other, what’s being taught just isn’t relevant to their particular needs. The training then potentially has meaning only for a subset of the group.
While the company may be striving for a consistent and efficiently delivered training experience across the sales force, the execution ends up failing many salespeople. Great sales training is able to be easily tailored to the needs of the individual. LIVE, 1:1 coaching allows salespeople to form their own self-improvement goals, grow self-awareness, get constructive personal feedback, and ultimately build self-confidence over time which will lead to improved pitches and more consistent sales.
Problem #3 - It’s expensive
Once upon a time, the largest companies had armies of specialists who would go out into the field and train salespeople. Those days are long gone, and today, organizations commonly hire third-party firms to provide training in one niche or another of sales pedagogy.
These third parties are usually charged by the head and try to cram as many people as possible into the training, in the shortest amount of time. Hey, they’re businesses and want to extract as much revenue from their services as possible before moving on to another client, right? That’s understandable.
But that system ends up being more provider-centric than user-centric. It also exacerbates the one-size-fits-all conundrum. And it comes at a high cost; not just the explicit costs of the services provided by the vendors, but the implicit costs of its ineffectiveness, and the productivity loss when sellers aren’t selling.
Ideally, you want the costs of sales training to be directly connected to sellers extracting value from it. TaskHuman’s unique offer of unlimited 1:1 coaching for your entire organization offers incredible value. Coaches are available night and day, able to work with any schedule.
Problem #4 - Sales training is often every salesperson’s favorite thing to hate
No wonder so many salespeople cringe at the thought of training. Their thinking goes like this: “I have 13 weeks in a quarter, and I have a quota. If you yank me out of the field for training, I’ve burned a week. It had better be worth it!”
Too frequently, it’s not. Salespeople tolerate it only because they have no other choice – these events are nearly always compulsory. Effective training shouldn’t be a test of compliance, but a compelling solution that sellers “pull.” Not one that organizations have to “push.”
Now imagine a world where each of your salespeople gets to build their very own dream team of coaches. Suddenly, “training” stops being a chore. They don’t have to go anywhere, instead of taking just 30 minutes to focus on personal goals, ask their own questions, and get immediate answers. Measurable improvement happens while still taking meetings and hitting quotas - not at their expense.
Problem #5 It’s not pandemic proof
The in-person, once-a-year-or-so model has dominated the training norm for so long, and many organizations have been caught flat-footed. In many or most companies, sales training has ground to a halt during the pandemic, or been replaced by one-off quickie sessions on Zoom. (Imagine all the salespeople surreptitiously checking Twitter or the list of new Netflix shows.) More often than not, these events tend to be watered-down versions of an already ineffective method. The times demand a different approach. TaskHuman brings that 1:1 face-to-face interaction back, available anywhere at any time.
As these five points show, sales training needs reinvention. In fact, it would be a good idea to lose the word “training” altogether in favor of “coaching.” Training is a way to transfer information from one source to another, while coaching is helping someone develop their skills “from good to great”, which is the true goal of sales development. A coaching model is a more 1:1 approach, tailored to the needs of the individual, and is provided in the flow of work, whenever a salesperson needs or wants it, and focuses on building and supporting the skills they need to win.
Through technology, it’s possible to deliver this sort of “just-in-time” solution to the sales force. Imagine, instead of trying to remember lessons from a training session six months ago or having to wait six months to the next one, a salesperson could access a TaskHuman coach online at any time to instantly get what they uniquely need to be successful.
And just maybe, sellers could get all of this without losing a week during their most critical quarter (and coming home exhausted from those late nights at the bar). Instead, the money companies invest will be allocated to supporting execution and performance – not hotels, airlines, and training materials.
Let’s face it: The time has come to modernize sales training. TaskHuman’s sales-specific coaches build on the foundational methodology provided by your company, while also supporting your salespeople throughout the year in a skills-based approach as they strive to up their game. There has never been a better time.
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