Four Keys to Better Training

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Are your salespeople getting the training they need to achieve their career goals with your company?

According to a worldwide study of over four thousand companies in seventy different countries across twenty different industries, IBM found that eight out of ten corporate leaders feel their employees do receive the training they need to achieve their career goals.

Unfortunately, according to the same study, only half of the employees at those very same companies feel they are getting the training they need to achieve their career goals.

The disconnect between what corporate leaders think they are providing in training and what the employees feel they are receiving in training is a major problem that contributes to employee turnover.

Employees who don’t feel they are getting the training they need to achieve their career goals with your company are twelve times more likely to consider leaving than those employees who do feel they can achieve their goals with your company.

The problem is even more exacerbated among your new employees. They are thirty times more likely to leave your company if they look around and sense, they won’t be able to achieve their career goals working for you.

Considering how much time and effort you spend on the recruitment process and the time lost to filling the same role again and again, the impact of poor training can have a devastating impact on your company’s sales performance and profit margins.

To see if training has a role in improving company performance, IBM looked at the best performing companies and compared them to the worst performing companies. In the best performing companies, eighty four percent of the employees felt their company provided the training necessary to achieve their professional goals. That is sixty eight percent better than the companies without a focus on their employee training needs.

Clearly, companies that devote attention and resources to providing their sales team with relevant and appropriate training see a significant return on their investment.

Small increases in training produces remarkable increases in results. Teams that received forty hours of training outperformed teams that received just thirty hours of training by three hundred percent.

One reason for this disconnect between the what corporate office thinks is going on and what the salesperson on the street feels may stem from the lack of objective training metrics. Professor Emeritus at University of Wisconsin and Honorary Chairman of Kirkpatrick Partners, there are four ways to evaluate training: reaction, learning, behavior and results.

If you value your human talent as one of your key drivers of success and want to improve your sales training, here are Four Keys to Effective Sales Training to help you get started.

Key #1 – Measure Reaction or Engagement

Your employees will only learn up to the level they are motivated to learn. If they don’t feel the training material will have a positive impact on their performance, they will perceive the training as a waste of their time.

At the completion of your training, survey your employees on their engagement with the training material. Allow anonymous responses.

Create a written survey and scientifically measure their responses over time. Questions should be closed end questions like:

The sales training on using the telephone to set appointments will help me increase the number of appointments I set on the phone.

Then provide the employee with a set of choices like; strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, or strongly agree.

Come up with five or six questions like these:

  • The sales training on using the telephone to set appointments was a good use of my time.
  • I would like more training like using the telephone to set appointments.

Ask for any additional feedback on the training materials.

Measure the responses to tweak your training accordingly. If they don’t feel like your training is helpful, you should consider making some improvements. Otherwise, your employees are just going to tune you out.

Key #2 – Measure Learning or Retention

Did your employees learn the information? Did they commit the information to memory? Measuring retention is done by administrating a quiz, either a written quiz an oral report. Wait a day or two before administrating the quiz. If the employee doesn’t pass the quiz, you should have them restudy the training materials and take the quiz again.

Key #3 – Measure Behavior or Application

Are your employees applying the new training in their daily activities? You can measure the application of the new training through your call reporting system. Review their application or lack thereof in your weekly one-on-one meetings. Determine if the salesperson is willing to learn or has other issues preventing them from demonstrating competency with the new skills.

Key #4 – Measure Results or Performance

The ultimate measurement of your sales training is improved sales performance. By keeping good records of sales performance from before and after the training, you’ll be able to see your efforts really pay off.

Let me know if I can help.  

Spike SanteeFour Keys to Better Training

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