This month we take a look at trends in sales training and the results of a recent best practice survey of over 120 companies. The results may surprise you.
Studies of business training expenditure consistently find that expenditure is concentrated in 5 areas, namely:
- Sales and customer service
- Executive and management training
- Industry-specific training
- Mandatory and compliance training
- Onboarding and IT skills
Over the next few months we will look in depth at the market and trends in each of these areas. This month we take a look at sales training and a new report from Axiom and TrainingIndustry.com. In May 2013 they surveyed 120 companies to identify:
- Approaches for sustaining the impact of sales training
- Common challenges and best practices when coaching to sustain the impact of sales training
- Practices, technologies and tools used
Companies considered product training and coaching the 2 most important approaches to sales training.
The results reflect some of our experiences at Kineo where we have designed and delivered a great many product training, sales and customer service programmes – often combining all 3.
The Harvard Business Review has previously identified the importance of product training due to increases in product breadth and complexity and the fact:
- Buyers have more information than ever before on competitor products, so sales staff really need to know their stuff
- Buyers check out the company and their products using the web before they meet the sales person. Thus, sales people need to be very knowledgeable
The 4 most effective sales training practices identified by the survey included:
- Monitoring the effectiveness of coaching programmes
- Creating a mentoring programme partnering new sales people with more experienced sales people
- Facilitating peer-to-peer learning through team exercises, knowledge portals and sharing sessions
- Providing experiential training through role plays, visits with senior sales people and on the job training
The survey concluded that effective companies:
- Provide more formal sales training
- Provide more formal and consistent sales coaching
- Measure the impact of sales training
- Use skills gap analysis
- Plan to use social, collaborative and mobile learning more often than ineffective companies
Interestingly despite a lot of market hype the survey found that gamification was the least likely approach to be used to support their sales training and coaching. Below are the tools they currently use, plan to use or don't plan to use to support their sales coaching. Interestingly email is top of the list.
Of course, combining these methods is more effective than a single channel. Learning programmes that combine several of these approaches, often delivered through a sales or customer service academy, are increasingly common in organisations.
As always, how you use the channels is what makes the difference. See our tips for best practice design in customer experience learning here.
By Steve Rayson