Why Sales Training Programs Fail
Customizing or personalizing a program makes so much sense these days as sales teams want relevancy in the classroom and buyers want to engage with well-educated and well-trained selling professionals. The intent for both training providers and organizations to meet this need is solid, however, the breakdown comes when one or both parties try and over-architect the training program or over-reach and try and make the program do more than can possibly be done, or even more than what is actually necessary. The impact of this usually manifests itself in a few key places.
- The customization/personalization schedule gets delayed
- The trickle-down impact here is that the training schedule also gets delayed
- This places stress on both the company and its training partner
- Students are overwhelmed in the classroom
- And one of two things happens here. They shut down and only absorb a portion of the training. Worse, go back to their territory and the real-world and go straight back to their old comfortable way of selling.
Again, customization and/or personalization makes so much sense. But in reality, we only have so much time to get across the most important part of the learning so we do not want to dilute the skills, ideas, and concepts by overdoing it all at one time.
A solid training program and roadmap will allow for layering in additional content and building upon the initial concepts and processes. It will also give sales managers a path toward coaching and mentoring in small bites, as opposed to boiling the sales training ocean all at one time.
Best Practice #1: Keep it simple. Make it powerful and impactful but keep it simple. The more we try and over-engineer a sales methodology or process, the harder it is to roll it out to the field. Even with highly educated sales personnel and extremely seasoned and successful sales management and leadership, the more that we make it harder than it has to be, the less it will actually be adopted and embraced by our sellers.
Best Practice #2: When customizing or personalizing a program, think about bringing the management and leadership teams in first. Get their buy-in and make sure that they are comfortable delivering the message when the trainer or the training company is not there. Interact and engage them during the customization process early and often so that the program doesn’t become so overwhelming and something that will be lost on the salespeople.
Best Practice #3: Start with something as close to off-the-shelf as possible first. When you have made your selection to work with one of the proven training programs that are available, you have probably chosen one with a proven track record of success. Their program is successful because it is their program, one that they have successfully delivered for at least a couple of decades. You will be shocked to find out how much of what they already have will work, save tons of money on customization, accelerate the launch of your training program, and learn what parts you really should consider customizing after you have run a few classes.
Remember, lessons happen in the classroom, the learning happens in the field. This means that if we overcomplicate it in the classroom, and they never take it to the field and try and apply it, we have wasted a lot of time and money. Build a program that is modular by design. This way you can get the most important elements into the hands of the sales team sooner, start experiencing results faster, and then layer on more tips and techniques, ideas, and concepts over the next few quarters. Layering in additional techniques is another good spot for the power of e-learning and online courses, tips, and techniques.