Today’s salespeople need proper training since they need to compete with more informed consumers. In fact, CSO Insights report shows that salespeople who participate and complete effective sales training programs achieve 10% higher win rates.
There is no doubt that sales training costs a good sum of money. According to a research from the Association for Talent Development, sales training costs $954,070, on average, for most companies. Considering such a level of investment, the process of setting next year’s sales training budget presents an opportunity to revisit all of the costs of sales training (implicit and explicit). To be more efficient, organizations can take a strategic approach to the planning process rather than simply tracking last year’s budget.
Here are seven sales training considerations for better budget planning:
Companies need to start by thinking about the big picture: What is your business trying to achieve? How has that changed in the last year? For instance, a SWOT analysis can help you start to narrow your focus on what you need to do differently.
Taking into account these organizational goals, find out which training is required to support these objectives. Keep in mind that your training should help you build on strengths, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate threats. For instance, a common threat is ongoing changes to the buyer’s behavior. Sales reps need to understand not just the features of new products but also how to position the product with buyers.
2. Individual Goals
It is also important to understand individual goals: what do your sales leaders, sales managers, and sales reps need to do differently to achieve your objectives and goals?
Prior to knowing which training to tackle, you need to know their competencies. The key is to assess your sales reps’ strengths and weaknesses against your selling needs, then look for training opportunities to build selling skills and bridge knowledge gaps.
3. Pick the right sales training provider to partner with.
Not having the right partner can be a real struggle for sales leaders. Not only have you wasted time and money on efforts that didn’t really help your team, but you’ve also potentially weakened your bargaining position when it comes time to request money for a sales training budget in the future. It is important to look for a sales training partner carefully.
Recognize specific goals you want to achieve, and accompanying metrics. Meet up with multiple vendors and ensure they have worked with sales teams of your size before. It would be wise to evaluate the vendor’s sales training content and make sure it will resonate with your team. In addition, one of the most important things to do is to consider your needs and preferences for training delivery (in-person, online, on-demand, video, etc.).
4. Number of Participants
It is essential to consider the number of people you will train. In addition to sales reps, consider training for sales managers and leaders to help drive the change. While training more people implies more costs, remember that improved selling skills need to be company-wide in order to generate measurable results. Besides, training individual groups and not others sends an uneven message about leadership’s commitment to training initiatives.
5. Prepare for the holistic cost of training
If you want to justify your budget for training, you need to be realistic about the actual costs. Total training costs are usually two to three times the payments to training providers. Be ready to commit to the whole package offered by vendors, including what you’ll need to do to help make the sales training effort successful. That may involve thorough preparation for the training sessions by your company working with the trainer, effective and enjoyable training sessions, and, crucially, follow-up steps that reinforce and permanently impact training. Be prepared to budget in detail for all these steps.
6. Scope of Training
Another main step is to consider all of the areas that you will address through the training. It could include some aspect of customer dialogue skills, opportunity or account management, presentation skills, and negotiation skills to name a few. Usually, the broader the scope, the more you will need to budget. One way is to separate the foundational skills from the incremental skills. Develop a training program that follows a curriculum model in which each skill builds on the last.
7. ROI Measurement
Similarly to assessing individuals, it is important to look for organizational benchmarks to monitor before and after the training. It could include the number of sales calls, meetings held, sales funnel status, length of sales, and the size of the sale, win/loss, and others. ROI measurement is different than assessment. ROI measurement seeks to understand how new selling behaviors are impacting revenue, while assessment measures how well those skills are understood.
It is certain that today’s sales market is more competitive than ever. With product and competitor information available at their fingertips, prospective customers no longer base their purchasing decisions solely on information provided by sales representatives. The most successful sales teams are skilled at interpreting client needs, anticipating and overcome objections. All these qualities require proper training. It is up to organizations to consider their training budget and make the most of it to ensure future sales growth.