In today’s world, sales training programs can address a wide variety of specific needs. That’s why individual sellers need to examine where they can get the most for their investment.
In recent months, the financial markets have demonstrated why personal investing is not a reliable source of short-term results. On the other hand, wise investments in targeted sales training can help individuals reap immediate returns on their investment.
"When the sales environment becomes challenging, it's easy for people to try a lot of different things to turn that dynamic around," says Skip Anderson, president of Selling to Consumers, a St. Paul-based training consultancy. "A good trainer can help them focus in on steps that will actually yield results."
In a soft economy, sales training rises in importance. In a recent national survey by "Chief Learning Officer" magazine, sales training cracked the publication's Top 10 list of corporate learning priorities for the first time in several years. Increased sales productivity and efficiency were cited as two key factors in that move.
How can individuals use sales training to their best advantage? Anderson suggests the following tips:
First diagnose, then prescribe. Before choosing a training resource, sellers need to be clear about what they are trying to improve. For example, sellers who have problems closing sales may be aided by one form of training, while those with difficulty growing prospect lists may need another form of assistance. Once the problem is defined, Anderson says a sales professional should identify concrete outcomes they desire from sales training, which can be used to measure success.
Research providers. Since sales training comes in a variety of forms, sellers should outline their specific prescription to professional colleagues to help secure targeted referrals. Sales professionals can also post a query on online business networking sites like LinkedIn to help get source recommendations from a wider group of people.
Make a choice. When narrowing referrals, sellers should always ask for and check references. In addition, when interviewing sales training resources, sellers should also probe specific aspects of their background and skills. For example, if the diagnosis shows that a seller's cold calling technique is not effective, they should ask the trainer for examples of similar challenges they helped resolve with other people.
Keep communicating. At the beginning of a training relationship, Anderson says it's wise to establish regular check-ins to make sure work stays focused on the original goals. "When things get off course, it's usually because the trainer didn't ask the right questions or because the client didn't communicate with the trainer. That's why it's better to err on the side of communicating too often rather than not often enough."
Brett Pyrtle is principal of Turning Point Communications LLC, a communications consulting firm based in St. Paul.