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Key Considerations for a Successful Sales Training Partnership

By Norman Behar

On this Q&A episode: "What are some of the key considerations for a successful sales training partnership?"

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*** Enhanced Video Script ***

A lot of times clients want to know, "Well, what should we really look for in terms of a training provider?" Here are seven key considerations for a successful sales training partnership.

#1 Reputation & Thought Leadership

One of the areas to start is what's the company's reputation and thought leadership? Are they well known in the industry? Do they have good industry recognition?

They don't necessarily have to be a super-large company, but do they have a pretty good name brand? Do they put out publications? Are there blog posts? Are there webinars? Are the topics that they're blogging about and writing about of interest to you? Are there reports? Are there data? Is there client success? Just some general information that gives you a sense for the reputation and thought-leadership of that company.

#2 Training Curriculum

Another area to take a close look at is the training curriculum. When you start to think about the actual training program, you want to make sure that the program aligns with your key priorities. As a rule of thumb, 80% of the topics that they're covering in the program should directly align with the skills and techniques that would be relevant to your team. Not to say that if there' less than 80% that the program wouldn't work, but at some point, you must think about how much you want to customize and is there another program that might meet the need better.

I'd also look at the quality of the skill models and the application exercises. Are these models, models that make sense? Would they resonate with your employees? If you have a younger workforce, will they resonate with millennials? And are there actual ways to apply those models to real-world scenarios?

Then I'd look at the instructional design. How do the materials look and feel? Are they easy to use? Are they easy to digest? A lot of times, programs get overly complicated, and that introduces a lot of implementation risk. So, look for something that has good, clean instructional design, good skill models, and most importantly, aligns with your needs.

#3 Pre-Training Consultation

A third area to consider is what's going to happen before the training? What kind of pre-training consultation is going to take place? Are they going to take the time to really understand my industry and my competitive landscape, my positioning, and the challenges that we might be facing the marketplace?  
 
Will they help me identify the priorities for skills development? And will they really consider my culture, the vision, mission, and values of my company? Is this program going to feel like something that really belongs in my company that's really been custom-tailored to address the needs of our sales team?

#4 Customization

Customization. So how is that program going to align with our needs? Are they going to be able to take the key learnings from the pre-training consultation and really make sure they find their way into the curriculum? Will the program delivery resonate with the team? Are there going to be real-world examples? Are they going to use the kind of terminology that we use within our business? And, most importantly, is there going to be skills-application where people can apply the skills they learned on real-world scenarios that resonate with the participants in the program? 

#5 Training Delivery

Another area that's critical is training delivery. What's the background and the experience of the facilitators? What's going to be the level of participation, interaction, engagement? In other words, is this going to be a lecture (kind of boring) or is this going to be a facilitated session with lots of discussions, exercises, role-plays, someone's that bringing a lot of energy into the room because the focus really needs to be on skills applications.  
 
So, we like to think about “learn, apply, and adopt.” And we want that training delivery to really focus on the application of the skills that are being learned.

#6 Reinforcement

Reinforcement is key. The skills training simply won't stick if it's just a training event. So, you have this great training program.  
 
There was pre-training consultation. You've customized it. Now you've delivered it. How are you going to reinforce it, reinforce the training? What's going to make it sustainable? So, are there reinforcement sessions that focus on skills application? Is there an opportunity to really discuss best practices, what's working, what's not working?  
 
Are there reference guides? Are there coaching guides? Is there post-training support? Reinforcement is critical to making sure you get a return on investment.

#7 Client Success

So almost every company has some success profiles. Maybe they even have videos on their website with client testimonials. But what's important is to speak with clients. Did the raining align with that client's cultures? Did the training result in behavior change? What's the overall strength of the recommendation you're hearing from that customer?

So, in thinking about these areas, you want to make sure that you're very comfortable with the training partner you selected. I'm hoping these tips can help you to think about a productive partnership that results in a strong return on investment and achieves your objectives. 

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About Norman Behar

Norman Behar
Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.

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