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What's the Secret Formula for Profitable Sales Rep Training?

By Dave Root on January 9, 2017

What's the Secret Formula for Profitable Sales Rep Training.jpgYour sales rep training may be fun. It may be well-attended by your sales reps. It may even be well-regarded by your leadership.

But is it profitable?

When it comes to training your sales reps, the effectiveness of that training boils down to one thing: profitability. Numbers don’t lie, and if your sales numbers aren’t up after training, then something’s missing. If the path to profitability through effective sales training has eluded your company, here’s the simple formula:

A Customer Centric Sales Approach...

Embodying an executive presence, deftly overcoming objections, and strategically making “the ask”—these are all important skills needed to sell effectively, and they’re the skills that a lot of sales rep training focuses on. But profitable sales rep training takes it a big step further. To truly reap the benefits of training, there must be a focus not just on what a sales rep needs to do, but on the mindset that a successful sales rep must adopt. In today’s selling climate, a customer centric mindset results in more sales and more profitable, long-term partnerships with customers.

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In other words, frame your training around the customer, not the sales rep. That’s exactly what the sales rep must do to close a sale: identify the customer’s needs, understand the customer’s challenges, and pinpoint the customer’s blind spots. For example, your training should demonstrate the strategies that a sales rep can use to create an in-depth customer profile—including research on the customer, the industry climate as a whole, and the competition—as part of the sales preparation stage and how the research put into that sales profile will come in handy during the actual sales meeting. Also, equal weight should be given to what happens after the sale and how the customer’s role changes. Help your sales reps understand how to transition into a partnership with their customers through identifying opportunities to work together further.  

...Plus Strategies That Instill Real Behavior Change...

Trainers and trainees alike often approach sales training as an opportunity to learn something new that will help them sharpen their sales skills. Learning about new skills doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but more often than not, the learning just doesn’t stick.

Think of it this way: When you focus on teaching new skills, there’s no guarantee that your trainees are going to 1) remember what you teach and 2) know how to put it into practice. But when you overhaul your sales training to focus on instilling lasting behavior change, you’ve effectively switched the emphasis from training content to training outcomes. And only one of those directly leads to profitability.

We all know what traditional training strategies that focus on teaching look like: PowerPoint presentations, online courses that participants consume passively at their desks, and (supposedly inspiring) lectures from leadership. So what does sales training focused on behavior change look like? One example is experiential learning, or participatory training exercises that mimic real-world, on-the-job experiences. Through experiential learning, your sales reps get to practice the new skills that they’ve learned during the training itself, when they’re able to get real-time feedback and take risks in a safe space. That’s far more effective than teaching them new skills through passive presentations and then allowing them to practice these new skills and concepts, with real leads. Post-training support, like reinforcement programs and periodic testing of key concepts, also helps ensure behavior change is truly lasting.

...Equals Profitable (and Measurable) Sales Training ROI

So, what does a customer centric approach and behavior-changing strategies add up to? A real, measurable return on investment. When it comes to sales training, ROI is pretty straightforward: If your sales training was truly effective, then your sales reps will be closing more sales. If, after training, your sales are stagnant, then it’s time for a sales training overhaul. Don’t leave the opportunity to increase profitability on the table by simply returning to the same training you’ve always done. When ROI and profitability are so closely linked, it’s easy to see if your training is working—and if it’s not then—then it’s time for a change.

Do you think the formula for profitable sales rep training is more complicated? If so, what part of the formula do you think is missing?

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Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

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Founded in 1988, Eagle's Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs that achieve specific training objectives and lasting behavior changes.

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