Top 5 Success Factors for a Sales Training Initiative

Dave Kurlan is a top-rated keynote speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and expert on all things sales and selling.

If your company is about to begin a sales development initiative, do you know the factors that will determine its eventual success or failure?  There are many and ultimately, like most systems and processes, they are only as good as the weakest link.

  • Sales Force Evaluation – if you don’t begin with this comprehensive look at the people, systems, processes and strategies of your sales organization, it would be like building a home without first knowing the size and location of the land, its proximities to utilities, designing the home, having a blueprint, knowing the local zoning laws, and having a budget!  Think about the nightmare you would be in store for…You have questions, questions, questions and the sales force evaluation provides answers, answers, answers.
  • Sales Infrastructure – you must have a formal, structured, optimized sales process in place PRIOR to training your salespeople.  Strategies, tactics and competencies are only as good as the process being followed.  You must also have a staged, criteria based sales pipeline with metrics, customized for each salesperson, so that everyone knows exactly how many opportunities, and of what potential size, must be in each stage at any given point in time.  From the pipeline requirements, metrics that drive results must be developed for each salesperson.
  • Sales Recruiting – assuming that not all of your salespeople are A’s and B’s, you must replace the C’s that can’t be saved, and possibly the B’s who can’t become A’s so that you have the right people in the right roles before training begins.
  • Sales Management must be developed, trained and coached so they can coach their salespeople to the training that will be provided and hold them accountable to both the application of that training and coaching, as well as the metrics that were developed.
  • Sales Training – assuming that the four points above have effectively been executed, now you can begin training your salespeople.  Still more factors must be considered….
    • Methodology – it must be easy to remember, intuitive and easy to apply.  It must also deal with both Customer 2.0 and Sales 2.0 issues.
    • Course Curriculum – this is much less important than any of the other factors yet executives often want to make this the key factor.  It’s not.
    • The Company – of course you want the company to be reputable and have an excellent track record, and they must have the resources to handle the size of your organization.
    • The Trainer – he or she must be able to perform the following additional factors:
      • help people to leave their comfort zones
      • provide assignments and hold people accountable
      • communicate with the sales management team about progress
      • get your people engaged
      • get your people excited
      • get your people committed to change
      • make a case for the process
      • clearly explain the strategies and tactics in the process
      • make it enjoyable and entertainging
      • feed by spoon rather than fire hose
      • Role Play
      • Challenge people

I’m certain there are more factors but, as usual, I’m up against the time again this morning as 6:30 AM approaches.  Out of all of the factors above, if I had to pick the single one that makes or breaks the effectiveness of the trainer, it would come down to their ability to role-play as a means of demonstrating how a sales conversation should take place.  The role-play must be repeatable, real-world, question-based and relevant.  No tricks, hokey techiques that only work in seminars, or one-liners that can’t be used with a real prospect. It must sound completely conversational and the trainer must be able to go back and break-down, question for question, what took place in the role-play.

While ALL of the factors in today’s article are crucial for a successful sales training/sales development initiative, if you get them all right and the trainer can’t effectively role-play the salesperson’s part of any scenario, with any salesperson, at any time, in any phase of the sales process, with any type of prospect, you have dramatically increased the chances that you wasted money on sales training.

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