How to Choose the Best Sales Training Company For Your Business
Choosing the best sales training company for your business is more than just a decision. It is an investment in the future success of your sales team. But what makes sales training such a crucial component of this process? Let's explore the benefits of sales training and key considerations for finding the best sales training company.
3 Unexpected Benefits of Sales Training
Sales training is proven to help your sales team close more deals, stay competitive, and boost productivity. For most organizations, this is more than enough to justify the investment, but there are other significant benefits sales training can deliver.
#1 Sales Training Helps Develop More Accurate Sales Forecasts
Imagine asking each member of your sales team to describe how they plan for a call, ask discovery questions, or present value. Would the answers be consistent, or would they be all over the map?
For example, when discussing a stalled sales opportunity with a sales rep, it is essential that you agree on the elements of a good discovery call to uncover buyer needs or how to qualify an opportunity effectively.
Sales training provides your team with a consistent way to talk about selling skills and onboard new reps. This allows you to coach your sales rep better and develop more accurate sales forecasts.
#2 Sales Training Is a Proven Strategy for Building a Winning Team
According to research by Boris Groysberg, a professor at the Harvard Business School, stardom is real in sales (e.g., top performers are up to 6 times more productive than bottom performers). This is why, for many sales organizations, hiring sales stars from either competitors or outside their industry is the go-to strategy for building a winning team.
Unfortunately, top talent and outstanding sales performance are not easily transferable to the new sales organization. Professor Groysberg's research found that approximately 50% of sales success is based on factors such as a hot market, the product or brand, advantages in lead generation or other resources and capabilities, internal relationships, culture, and training.
According to Professor Groysberg, the only viable long-term strategy to gain a competitive advantage is to:
- Recruit and hire smart, hardworking candidates
- Train them to become high-performing salespeople
- Retain them
Think of General Electric in the 1980s, a company where the best and brightest business school graduates went to learn how to manage. A key component of GE's success in developing its managerial talent was its legendary management training program, which helped GE attract the best and brightest candidates, many of whom now serve as CEOs of the biggest organizations.
A great sales training program that helps develop homegrown stars can be a strategic differentiator for your sales organizations. This will enable your reps to position themselves as trusted advisors with customers.
#3 Sales Training Helps Avoid the Sales Management Time Trap
Frontline sales managers are always short on time. This isn't surprising given their numerous responsibilities, including recruiting and hiring new sales professionals, day-to-day management tasks, sales coaching, and administrative duties.
Compounding this problem is the reality that most sales managers learn to manage through on-the-job experience. They were previously successful salespeople and often have difficulty understanding why struggling team members "don't get it." Out of frustration, they attempt to solve performance issues by either micro-managing or taking over specific selling tasks from their salespeople.
The problem with such an approach is that the work flows incorrectly - from the salesperson to the manager. As a result, the sales manager soon feels trapped by an overwhelming number of responsibilities, continually jumping from crisis to crisis.
Sales training gives your sales professionals the skills, tools, and processes they need to solve their problems better, requiring less help from their sales managers. This enables your managers to focus more on managing and less on putting out fires, resulting in less stressed sales managers and more productive sales teams.
Now that you know why it is important to implement sales training within your organization, let's look at what you can do to find a sales training company that will help you take your team to victory.
7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Sales Training Company
#1 Reputation and Thought Leadership
Shopping for a sales training provider starts with general research (either online or by word-of-mouth) about companies you might want to work with.
Consider the reputation of each potential partner. Every year, Selling Power releases a list of Top Sales Training Companies, which would be a good starting point. You should also explore the content (blog posts, webinar recordings, white papers, reports, etc.) on their website to assess their level of thought leadership.
#2 General Professionalism and Responsiveness
Evaluate your initial interactions with potential providers. Are they responsive to your emails and phone calls? Are they good at building rapport with you? Do they seem well-informed about your business? Do they talk about your business goals and priorities, or mainly about themselves and their offerings?
If they don't seem invested in learning about your particular goals and needs, it is wise to continue your search.
#3 Sales Training Curriculum
Before you commit to a program for skills improvement, you need to establish whether the program's curriculum aligns with your needs.
Many sales leaders get burned by programs that fail to deliver on expectations. At the outset, ask, "Will this program result in the behavior change and skills improvement we want?" This will depend on many factors, but in general, you should look for a comprehensive program that includes pre-training consultation, assessment, and post-training reinforcement.
Typically, sales training companies will share enough of their content to tell you whether it is a good fit for you (if they don't, it is a red flag). When evaluating content, look for at least 80% alignment between the company's curriculum and the skills you want to address.
For example, if you want to improve your sales team's negotiation skills, ensure the curriculum addresses that particular skill set in enough depth. If negotiation skills comprise only a fraction of the company's core curriculum, this training program will not address your needs.
#4 Customization Capabilities
Almost all sales training programs will require some level of customization to fit the individual needs of a given sales organization.
The customization issue is particularly important for sales organizations that feature a variety of sales roles. Let's say your sales organization includes new business development reps, account executives, and strategic account managers. Each of these roles requires different skills. Therefore, ensuring the curriculum can be tailored to address the specific sales roles and the associated skills is essential.
Be aware that the level of required customization must match the level of expertise of the training partner. For example, if the customization requirement is relatively light because the curriculum generally aligns with the training priorities, you can usually get by with the facilitator conducting a few intake interviews to understand your business, speak your language during the training sessions, and include a few customized role plays. However, if you need to modify terminology or sales process or change the underlying content, you must work with experienced sales consultants, instructional designers, and facilitators.
If your sales training initiative requires a high level of customization, you want to work with a sales training consultant who can understand your business, industry, products and services, and competitive challenges. You also want great instructional designers and facilitators. Ask the potential vendor to send bios or arrange a call with the proposed account team you will be working with so you can evaluate the project team's experience and background.
#5 Training Delivery
If the sales training company conducts the sessions, you want to ensure the company's facilitators have experience working in similar settings. For global companies with sales resources concentrated in various regions, create a grid to see where you will need facilitation assistance and which languages you will need to support. This will also help you decide whether the training should be delivered in person or whether you should look at virtual instructor-led programs for remote areas with fewer participants.
On the other hand, if the training is delivered through in-house resources, it is essential to understand the training partner's licensing terms, train-the-trainer program, and support resources. If you need to add more participants than your initial estimate, ask about licensing terms and any associated fees you might incur.
#6 Program Sustainability
Your investment in training is predicated on improving selling skills and associated sales behaviors. As such, you should look for programs that include reinforcement components and pre- and post-training assessments.
Ensure the plan is holistic and that you clearly understand what will happen before, during, and after training to ensure application and adoption by the participants.
Speaking with other clients to understand their experience and outcomes is reassuring. Hence, always ask to speak to references.
Having the sales training provider send you case studies or success metrics is insufficient. You need to talk to other clients and ask, "What was it like working with this particular provider?", "What were your objectives, and did the program meet those objectives?", "How has the training impacted sales performance?"
Choosing the best sales training company for your business is a strategic move that can shape the future success of your sales team. But apart from improved deal-closing rates and enhanced productivity, sales training offers some hidden advantages.
Firstly, it provides your team with a common sales language, ensuring consistency in sales training approach and more accurate sales forecasts. Secondly, it is a proven strategy for cultivating homegrown stars within your organization, giving you a competitive edge and building customer trust. Lastly, it helps alleviate the sales management time trap by equipping your sales professionals with problem-solving skills, reducing the burden on managers, and fostering a more productive team.
As you seek the ideal training partner, consider their reputation, professionalism, curriculum alignment, customization abilities, and training delivery. Ensure that their programs include sustainability components and gather insights from references.
About SRG, a Part of SBI
SRG, a part of SBI, serves as the benchmark in sales training and growth advisory for companies seeking excellence. Fueled by SBI's data-driven go-to-market acumen and enriched by SRG's tried-and-true sales training programs, we help clients grow their revenue, margin, and enterprise value in ways never before possible.