With in-person, instructor-led training off the table for over a year, companies had to innovate and leverage technology to deliver sales training to their remote sales teams. Initially, the onset of the COVID pandemic sidelined most training initiatives. However, companies quickly realized that sales training was an even higher priority since it was suddenly more difficult to connect with customers, and sales reps were limited to remote selling.
Every sales leader wants their team to “sell higher,” and it’s easy to understand why. Senior-level executives can make bigger decisions faster than the typical buyers salespeople engage with: low-level technical users, program managers, and mid-level executives. As Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.com, once noted, “When I look at [our] largest transactions … every transaction was done with the CEO.” Benioff’s experience is typical of many sales organizations.
Here’s a post one of my colleagues recently made on LinkedIn after a long day of prospecting: “Today, I made 114 calls. The first 100 calls resulted in zero meetings. On call 102, I booked a meeting with a VP at a hypergrowth startup. Call 105 resulted in a meeting with one of the largest retailers in Canada. Don't quit too soon.” Boom! This post went viral, generating thousands of likes, shares, and comments as other sales professionals shared their own war stories and words of encouragement. Clearly, my colleague hit a nerve with his fellow sales professionals. It’s easy to see why. In a profession where the rejection rate can often be 90 percent, staying motivated is critical to your long-term success. So, what kind of person would sign up for a job where they are rejected over 90 percent of the time?
The expansion of online, collaborative learning is one of the most exciting evolutions to come out of the challenges of delivering sales training over the past year. As the participant feedback suggests below, online, collaborative learning did a great job engaging participants, increasing group collaboration, and reinforcing skills over time – all of which is leading to greater success for learners and better outcomes for companies.
Sales organizations continue to invest in sales training but are often challenged when it comes to demonstrating that the training had a lasting impact on how their sales team sells. According to ATD Research (pre-COVID), sales organizations invested an average of $2,326 per salesperson annually on sales training. Interestingly, a survey by TrainingIndustry.com found that 43.5% of participants felt that sales skills training “needed improvement.” There are a number of reasons that sales training initiatives fall short.
One of the biggest challenges for a sales organization is moving upmarket. For example, if you target the small- and medium-sized business market (SMB) and now want to target enterprise customers – that’s where the money is – you need to rethink how you sell. Enterprise and SMB selling are fundamentally different, and each requires its own sales process, metrics, and unique selling skills. At the heart of these differences is size.