Corporate sales training programs evolve every year with the introduction of new sales training methodologies. This constant change makes it difficult to know which sales training strategies are best for your sales organization.
The Sales Management Association (SMA) focuses on this question with its annual research by polling sales leaders on emerging sales training trends including:
- how training has changed
- where it’s heading
- what the industry considers best practice
This year, SMA uncovered a range of insights about frequent sales training misperceptions, the modern workplace, and how these factors impact sales effectiveness. For a more in-depth review of these findings, download the SMA report here.
Learn more about SMA’s research by downloading Qstream’s Emerging Practices in Sales Training Webcast.
The research revealed that the most successful sales training program have three vital characteristics: collaboration, customization, and continuous delivery — the three Cs. A harmonious marriage of these three is proven to produce better sales training results and increase the return on investment (ROI) of an organization’s training programs.
Let’s take a deeper look into what the research discovered about each of the 3 Cs.
Even though sales managers are in charge of their reps, that doesn’t mean their training preferences take priority. SMA found that the majority of firms (55%) delegate developing sales learning objectives to managers. But 35% of firms establish goals with equal input from managers and salespeople, while 10% give salespeople more influence than management. In order for both managers and reps to get the most out of sales training, collaboration must be top of mind when developing the program. SMA’s research reveals salespeople and managers who established learning objectives collaboratively outperformed their peers with by 16%.
Collaboration works because it engages top sales performers from multiple departments and drives sales revenue by setting collective goals that everybody can support. It also demonstrates trust by showing sales reps that their voices are heard, which continues to foster collaboration. After all, two (or 10) heads are better than one.
SMA’s research discovered that 80% of firms provide training that is mostly or entirely the same for all salespeople, leaving 12% that equally use a combination of customization and generic training and only 8% that fully customize training. Despite a smaller sample size, it’s clear that customized sales training greatly improves sales performance rates — by a whopping 40% over standardized training. This shouldn’t be a surprise, considering that the best training programs should be specific to a salesperson's job and align with customer expectations. Focusing on individual needs and capturing them within a continuous program (see below) will provide results that are measurable, scalable, and reputable.
You would think that striking a balance between episodic and continuous learning is the key to successful learning — but it’s not. According to SMA research, the majority of firms focus on episodic, one-off events, while only 27% emphasize the continuous delivery of learning content. And yet organizations that put an emphasis on continuous learning experience 35% higher sales effectiveness. This demonstrates that learning is a journey — and is not event driven.
When incorporating continuous reinforcement, training should be fun, effective, and competitive. Organizations should still develop annualized sales training programs, but they should be broken down into quarters and focus on current business objectives to ensure they’re driving the right information.
The 3 Cs and Qstream
SMA’s latest research reveals that organizations that incorporate the 3 Cs into their sales-training programs experience greater results than those that don’t. Best practice microlearning is an example of a modern learning strategy that embodies collaboration, customization, and continuous delivery. Microlearning — which involves job-related challenges, game mechanics, and training in the flow of work — has been scientifically proven to increase sales rep engagement, improve sales knowledge retention, and effectively change sales behaviors. The 3 Cs — in partnership with a daily Microlearning strategy — are a sure-fire way to consistently set your organization up for training success.
To learn more about how Qstream can help you deliver continuous learning to sales reps, contact us today.