Why Sales Training Programs Fail
As companies recognize that they need, or should implement a sales or sales management training program, the conversations that take place include the possibility of using a training organization that they have used in the past, or including someone or some training organization where someone on the executive or management team has or has had a relationship.
The other conversation that takes place is a “build vs buy” discussion, believing that they have the right talent, enough expertise and knowledge, and enough time to build and deliver their own training program.
In any of the scenarios above, when done properly, could deliver the desired outcomes and results. Or, they could go horribly wrong, ending with a failed program and no return on the investment made.
- There could be nothing wrong with using a proven training organization or partner who has helped to deliver results in the past, especially within your industry. The questions that we would have to ask include:
- Why did the company stop working with this training partner?
- If they were delivering the results, shouldn’t they still be engaged at some level?
- Has the company evolved over time, keeping up with the current business and competitive landscape?
- Has the same company stayed current or even ahead of technology and tools that are available to today’s sellers?
- And even though the content is timeless and proven, are the concepts and the way that it is taught tied to the way the world works today and the way the salespeople are learning today.
- A build vs buy decision could be an excellent path to consider as well. However, this should be thought about in many ways:
- This seems like a great idea, but do the people who will be tasked with the project really have the time to commit to developing a program from scratch?
- Is their time more valuable in the field selling?
- Are we pulling learning and development resources away from other projects?
- Buy-in from the sales team and sales management teams will be required.
- The sales team will compare any known or existing program that they have been through with the quality and work that is being developed for a home-grown solution. If they see weaknesses, buy-in will be lost and they could resist the program.
- When looking at the training roadmap, take into consideration the time it will take, the level of difficulty that it may pose, and the actual costs involved.
- A build vs buy decision should evaluate and compare time, level of difficulty, and all costs against the time, level of difficulty, and costs of choosing and working with an existing and proven training provider.
- Although the first two are both viable options, the good news is that there are even more options that should be considered. Investing in the sales and sales management team should easily deliver an ROI that more than covers the initial and ongoing investment. There are consulting organizations, industry experts, and data available to help companies explore the best potential fit for their organization. Looking at industry experience, content relevancy, ability to customize or personalize content, licensing of intellectual property, a proven train-the-trainer model, the processes in which training organizations work with their clients, budget fit, and proven results should all be taken into consideration.
The point is that instead of going back to a partner that we used to work with, or taking the time in building a home-grown solution, that we should be willing to make the best decision possible based on all of the personal and professional development options that are currently available.
Best Practice #1: Building upon the previous reason of “No Clarity,” defining the “why” before beginning the process of exploring the “who” and the “how” is certainly a best practice. Go through the exercise of understanding the KPI’s and results that this training program should be able to deliver. Think about things like an increase in revenue, improved margins, shortened sales cycle time, increase in renewals, expansion of existing accounts, reduction in customer attrition, reduction in turnover of sales personnel, and more. Once the “why” is clearly understood, the “who” and the “how” are much easier to determine.
Best Practice #2: Be open to looking at a solution that is different from anything you have done in the past. Just like everything else, the training world and the learners change too. They have changed in the way they deliver and receive information and the ways that are helpful for the sales team and participants to learn. Be open to looking at solutions that are proven to be successful for today’s sellers who will one day become tomorrow’s sales leaders.
Best Practice #3: Work with industry consultants and experts who can add value to the decision process and who can bring forward the right training solution options and eliminate the other potential solutions that really would not be a proper fit based on what you are trying to achieve.
Remember, it is not what is new that works, it is what works that works. So, if the training solution that proved successful in the past is still a viable solution, keep them in the mix. Today’s sellers and today’s learners are adapting to their environment and learning how to sell, leveraging all of the tools, content, and technology that are available to them and that help them win and win more often. So, to increase the likelihood of a successful sales training program, consider all of the options that are currently available.