As Sales Leaders we know sales training is key though.  The ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) reports an 18% increase in productivity for every 3 hours spent training.  But traditional training methods cost more with fewer results than before.  So what’s the answer to more effective training and improvement in selling time?  Agile Sales Training.

 

Does your current sales training disrupt sales performance?  Does it unnecessarily pull people out of the field decreasing selling time?  Download our Agile Sales Training Guide.  Developed from our Quarter 1 2013 research, It does two things.  The guide gauges the quality of your training but assesses if it’s agile. It can give you back selling time.

 

What is Agile Sales Training?

Agile Sales Training is defined as adaptive and iterative training.  It is built on interactions of face to face, video, social and self-learning.  Agile involves all known learning platforms in a sequenced methodology.  Here is an example:

 

agile sales training process 2

 

There are four keys to  Agile Sales Training:

 

  • Each learning methods has their part:  The Agile Methodology uses all the methods in conjunction.  Each effort needs to be synced with the overall methodology.  For example, E-Learning functions test the depth of understanding.  Webinars introduce the concepts. Face to Face sessions allow for real opportunities to be used as trial.  Attempting to accomplish multiple objectives in each session will decrease training absorption.  Define specific objectives for each method.
  • Execution is the Key: Skipping or missing just one action or event will cause confusion.  Each activity must be mandatory for the learning to be understood.  The most critical piece is after the Face to Face sessions.  A common mistake is to blow off everything after the event.
  • Sales Leadership must participate and lead: The Sales VP must ‘own’ the concepts.  They must be present at every event or activity.  Training them as trainers is critical (train the trainer method). Testing their teams throughout the training timeline will help attendance and adoption.  Supporting the entire training program will communicate an important message. “This training is important and will be here long term.  This is not a temporary program.”  Without this message, forget the whole thing.
  • Implement a Reinforcement Program:  This is the most critical piece of the training curriculum.  The Corporate Executive Board states  87% of all knowledge is gone within 30 days.  You must reinforce this training if you have any chance of adoption.  Most of this reinforcement can be virtual.   Deal strategy calls, one on one observations and videos are a couple methods to use.  Be a stickler on the reinforcement.  This is where the productivity increase will occur. Check out the below visual for an idea of one reinforcement plan:

 

Sales Training Reinforcement Program

 

Most Learning & Development teams have not adopted this methodology.  Why?  Traditional methods don’t require change management.  And that’s hard work.  Most people are ‘stuck’ in the past.  It is easy to put reps in all-day training classes. But executives aren’t seeing the results and are stopping the funding.   By using agile, reps learn how to interact virtually.  And they can then use this with their customers on sales campaigns.

 

Executing Your Agile Execution Plan:

 

  • Determine your Actual Selling Time:  Pulling sales reps out of the field decreases this time.  But that’s ok if two things happen.  The selling time can’t fall below 60%.  And the training proves a 5%+ productivity increase across the team.
  • Make your Training Agile:  Map out how many methods to conduct the training.  Determine the availability of training portals.  Should you use your Learning Management System?  Go for a third party application like Brainshark?  The methods and objectives should equal the content.
  • Gauge your Sales Team’s Execution:  Training needs to be attended by everyone.  The role of agile is to allow increased selling time.  It doesn’t work if your reps blow off even some of the training.
  • Repetition is the Mother of Absorption:  Don’t be afraid to have someone repeat a method.  Most people need multiple attempts to get things correct.  So record the webinars.  Make sure the e-learning classes are easy to access.  Video the face to face sessions.

 

Sales leaders need to take responsibility keeping sales reps in the field.  Agile sales training helps accomplish this task.  “Training reps is a hassle.  They don’t listen and it turns out to be a waste to time” is heard from Sales VPs often.   But your ‘Eureka’ moment should be that you own it.  The buck stops with the Sales VP.  Use an Agile approach to improve it now.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Perry

Intensely focused on helping sales and marketing leaders in B2B companies make their numbers at SBI.
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Dan approaches the idea of making your number from a unique perspective. Like many SBI leaders, he has walked a mile in your shoes. He comes from the industry side and has had to make his number to be successful. Perhaps this is why it’s wise to rely on SBI’s evidence-based methodologies. Though SBI is certainly an execution-based firm, Dan only implements strategies and solutions for his clients after they have been verified with before-and-after data. This leads to adoption of sales programs in the field, rather than shelf-ware.

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