Begin With a Business Plan
The following are three fundamental requirements necessary for sales training and certification to produce lasting gains in sales performance and a positive, measurable return on investment:
- The program must teach a sales system that is genuinely more effective than what salespeople are doing now.
- The system must rely on key skills that can be taught.
- Training must proceed according to the realities of adult learning and behavioral reinforcement.
But gains in sales skills and sales results do not occur in a vacuum. Every salesperson operates within a business environment and a performance system that is driven by concrete business goals. If you want real, measurable improvement in hitting business targets, everyone needs to know what those targets are.
What business goals are your salespeople supposed to hit?
For sales training to make a dramatic difference in a company’s performance, it must take place within the context of a Business Development Plan. That plan should specify three kinds of interlocking objectives.
Business Objectives: These are the specific targets the company wants its sales force to hit. They should be determined before you even consider whether sales training would be an appropriate solution. What’s keeping the sales force from achieving these objectives? Do they lack certain skills that would help? How could you provide those skills?
Examples of business objectives that drive sales training might include: double the average rate of sales growth in our industry; grow the business organically, rather than through acquisitions; align our sales plan with our marketing strategy; sell more customers on loyalty programs that bind them to us for extended periods.
Skill Objectives: Once you have identified your business objectives and determined that a skill gap stands in the way of meeting them, the question becomes: Which new or improved skills will actually help our salespeople (and sales managers) meet those objectives?
Each student must see where they currently stand with the skill, and what’s in it for them and the company if they improve.
Examples of skill objectives might include: learn a skill set that enables salespeople to transition from transaction sales to solution sales; learn to sell high-value solutions that deepen the customer’s commitment to our company; develop skills that work in harmony with a more efficient sales model; improve sales vice president’s ability to develop sales managers, and sales managers’ ability to develop salespeople.
Training Objectives: Now you know the business goals you’re trying to achieve and which skills will be required to reach them. The final question is: How should training be structured and organized to ensure that learning is optimized and that skills are not only mastered but used consistently on the job—where it counts?
Examples of training objectives might include: gain buy-in of the sales organization on the Business Development Plan; develop tools and procedures specific to our company to ensure that new skills transfer to the job; certify at least 85% of the sales force on the new skills; measure the entire training process, including pre-training skill levels, certification of sales professionals, performance changes on the job, and return on the training investment in the form of new revenue and/or higher profit margins.
Business Objectives, Skill Objectives, and Training Objectives are the building blocks of a Business Development Plan. And a good Business Development Plan is the foundation for a sales training initiative that pays off with tangible results.
Action Selling In Action
The sample objectives listed above are among those identified in the Business Development Plan of one Action Selling client—a major after-market distributor that trained and certified about 1,200 salespeople and sales managers in the Action Selling system last year.
The company met all of its business objectives—and smashed the goal of doubling the average growth rate in its mature industry, which is about 1.5%. In the first 90 days after the initial training, our client saw a revenue spurt of 4.62%. Conservative projections indicate a gross profit improvement of 3 times the current growth rate.
Using a rigorous methodology, including a control group of untrained salespeople to eliminate variables other than the Action Selling program, this company measured an increase in gross profit that produced an ROI of more than 3:1 in the first 90 days. At the end of the first year, it confidently expects to see an ROI of 14:1!
Download the White Paper that describes this company’s experience with Action Selling and its ROI gain.