The fourth Sales Trend for 2014 is sales training methodologies are going to change.
Sales training as we know it is not going to disappear. As the market becomes more complex and competition more virulent, salespeople will need more, not less training. But they will also have less time to be trained. These two forces – increased competition with the need to up skill salespeople and less time for training – will make identifying different and effective training methods key to success.
Amongst the more evident challenges facing companies is the high cost of training their sales force at every level – from the inexperienced salesperson to strategic accounts management. The trend in 2014 will be for companies to reduce the cost whilst still developing their salespeople. Blending e-learning with classroom work and in-field coaching is going to become the focal point of sales training moving forward.
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This sales trend will see smart companies move beyond event style training (1-3 days in the classroom) to creating what Barrett has termed Perpetual Learning Environments (PLE). These companies will work out ways to use best practice learning principles including models like the powerful 70-20-10 development model, which includes interval training (mini sessions scheduled at regular intervals) and discovery learning (interactive, hands-on sessions with lots of questions to get people discovering the answers themselves) as well as knowledge, skills and behaviour transfer methods across many facets. Combining classroom training, using well-structured materials with in-field coaching and reinforcement, supplemented with user-friendly practical online learning resources is happening now and is slowly becoming the norm.
For instance, Barrett has invested heavily in developing www.salesessentials.com, our online sales resource and e-learning platform. For a few years now we have been getting a steady stream of calls and emails from people telling us they want training courses, tools, assessments and resources they can access in many forms any time anywhere to help them achieve their sales goals and objectives. That is why we took our highly regarded, university grade, sales education materials, publications, tools and resources and put them into an online education platform. It can be accessed independently by self-driven learners or form part of a blended learning approach to ensure focused learning experiences that sustain continuous reinforcement for sales teams.
Whilst e-learning will form only one part of the overall learning process, it is nonetheless a vital ingredient in successful sales training. There will be online learning offerings ranging from the more passive information oriented talking head videos and webinars to interactive online learning such as games and case study simulations, or dynamic online learning programs that are progressive in nature and practical. The latter requiring participants to work through scenarios, situations, plan and apply what they have learned in the field in the real world. If you want to experience a practical and applied sales e-learning approach, try out this complimentary sales program on the philosophy, history and ethics of selling. Let us know what you think.
Online sales learning resources withstanding, the drive to squeeze more profits out of sales operations will focus heavily on reducing the cost of sales training. Management will come to the realisation that the real cost of sales is not the training itself, but the cost of taking salespeople out of the field and being non-revenue generating for 3-4 days (plus travel, accommodation, transport, food, etc). The challenge nonetheless remains – companies will have to train and develop their salespeople, as the market becomes more complex and buyers become more demanding.
In 2014, smart companies will look to provide sales training taking their salespeople out of the field for the minimum length of time. This shift is going to encourage online training, where salespeople can spend non-selling time learning online and then having in-class training workshops for 1-2 day top ups combined with regular and consistent sales coaching as the more effective and sustainable development model.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is founder and CEO of www.barrett.com.au and www.salesessentials.com. and has written 21 e-books and 500+ articles on the world of 21st Century Selling. Sue and her team partner with companies to improve their sales operations and provide sales consulting, training, coaching and assessments.