Sales training is one of the pillars of sales enablement — it’s crucial to helping improve core selling skills, sales processes, confidence, and all the competencies you need to win more deals.
But with so many sales training programs out there, how do you know which sales training company to choose?
We’re going to look at all the factors you should consider when looking for a sales training provider. Use these questions to help you decide what you want from sales training and which company is going to help you achieve those goals.
Remember, in this instance — You are the customer
Investing in sales training is a buying decision like any other. You need to undertake the same level of research as you would if you were purchasing, say, a new car. Read the reviews, ask around, look at references, testimonials, websites, blogs, and check out what the prospective facilitators are saying online. How do other companies rate their services? How does their online messaging sync with your company’s sales philosophy? Do the facilitators seem like people your sales team would listen to? Because if not, you’re wasting your money.
What do you want to achieve with sales training?
Going into the programme with SMART training goals is essential. Not only does it help you and the training provider decide on a plan for the training content, but it also enables you to measure the success of the training after it is complete. SMART goals are:
This means it’s not enough to say “I want my sales team to make more money” — that’s too vague. Do you want the training to focus on increasing productivity, close rate, deal size, or something else entirely? Have a goal in mind while you’re searching for a sales training provider so you can go to them with a specific task and allow them to tailor a program to your wishes.
Top tip: Make sure your stats are up-to-date at the start of the program so you can do a thorough comparison and evaluation of effectiveness after the program has ended.
What are your needs?
What you want and what you need are not the same thing. For example, you may have decided you want to increase deal size. In terms of training, then, perhaps your salespeople need help with their negotiating skills. Or it could be they spend too much time chasing small fry and they lack the confidence to go after the big fish. Is that confidence training — or do they need guidance on targeting the right customers?
It’s good to go to a sales training provider with an idea of where your team’s weaknesses lie — but most sales training providers will appreciate the opportunity to make that assessment for themselves. The extent of their evaluation will vary depending on the investment you’re prepared to make, but it’s often worth giving at least some of your training budget to a skills assessment. Sometimes it takes an outsider to evaluate your weak spots. Certainly, if you’re pouring money into training, you want to know you’re watering the right part of your garden.
How would you like your sales training to be delivered?
There are three main ways to deliver sales training: in-person, online with a facilitator and online without a facilitator. Your choice of sales training company will depend on them offering the type of training you want – though, in reality, most companies will likely provide at least a little of everything.
If you’re looking for in-person training, location will be a factor in your decision, so make sure you investigate whether the training provider has someone covering your area. Do they offer a training venue or will you need to sort that out? Can you afford the time out of the office, the cost of the venue, any hotel accommodation, etc.? When discussing costs with prospective providers, make sure you establish what their fee covers and what (if any) additional budget items may crop up.
Likewise, if you opt for online training of any sort, ensure that all participants have the necessary tools to access the training or factor in the additional spending into the budget. Also, consider how you will monitor engagement with online training to ensure your sales team take full advantage of the opportunity. It may be the provider has advice, strategies or tools in place to help you with this.
What kind of content is on offer?
As you weigh up your options, ask prospective sales training companies to provide you with sample content so you can evaluate if it’s a good match for your business. A lot of sales training facilitators are experienced salespeople with philosophies and methodologies that have been successful for them…but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be a fit for you. If you’re unsure, continue your research. Any good sales training provider should be happy to provide you with opportunities to verify their suitability for your needs, whether that’s more content, the chance to speak with existing customers — or even the chance to view real training sessions.
Other factors to consider are how much opportunity there is for role play and workshopping within the course. People learn best by doing, rather than by listening, so it’s important your training provider can offer a good proportion of time for practising as well as preaching.
Finally, how extensively can the provider customise their offering for your business? Get reassurances on this – with examples – before making a decision.
What is the long-term training plan?
Some sales training lends itself to an isolated half-day training session. But those are the exception rather than the rule. In the majority of cases, to gain long-term benefits from sales training, you need a complete strategy, incorporating pre-work and follow-up. Pre-work ensures sales reps arrive at the training prepared, engaged and ready to learn. Follow-up prevents all the hard work undertaken during training falling by the wayside the minute the training ends. Whether this follow-up is with the training provider, with your company’s sales managers, or even with an automated microlearning tool, it needs to be in the plan from the outset.
Another thing to factor in from the very beginning is how the sales training company will demonstrate ROI. Given you’ve set out with SMART goals, this should be easily achievable, but still, the burden of proof rests with the provider. Make sure they’re equipped to deliver.
How will sales leaders be involved?
Any sales training effort should involve sales managers. Of course, they need to learn what sales reps are learning – but sales leaders should also have additional training to:
- Ensure they can answer any questions that arise following the training.
- Take the lead on implementing new strategies and processes.
- Demonstrate skills and continue coaching after the training is done.
Training programs that do not include sales managers are doomed to fail. Good sales training providers will have a plan in place to not only involve sales managers but also to make the most of their platform in the team.
Sales training pays — if you invest wisely
The success of your sales training program is in large part down to your ability to pinpoint what you want, what you need and who can help you achieve it. Hopefully, with the help of these questions, you will be able to find the right sales training company for your needs. Good luck!
Charlotte Powell is the head of design and marketing at iPresent, a sales enablement platform developed by experienced sales professionals. iPresent is tailor-made to give sales teams all the tools they need to create beautiful and effective sales presentations.