One of the most vital tools in a sales person’s arsenal is a thorough knowledge of the products or services they are selling. Training for that should be customized to each company. However, a significant portion of the $5 billion a year that United States companies invest in training their sales staffs is focused on cookie-cutter programs about closing deals, making good presentations, and tracking down leads.
Those programs are relevant, of course, but if you are offering them and still not seeing the increased sales return on your company’s bottom line, it’s worth checking to see how well your sales staff really understand what they are selling.
Your training dollars may be better invested in developing a series of online video or text tutorials on your products or services and delivering them at a rate of one or two per week to your staff. Ensure that all sales staff participate in the e-learning endeavor by tracking who has read or watched the programs each week and offering incentives for completion of six-week modules.
Research Shows the Most Effective Ways Sales Staff Learn
Such an approach ties in with current research on how sales staff learn effectively contained in research by Sales Performance International (SPI). Researchers in the SPI study discovered that multi-day training events are often a waste of money since 50% of what sales representatives learn at such events is forgotten within five weeks. On average, 84% of sales training content is lost after 90 days. Furthermore, sales staff bombarded with information reported becoming so overwhelmed with the amount of material they were expected to absorb that they felt crushed.
The report suggested that companies with extensive product and services lines could better invest their sales training dollars by inviting their staff to micro-learn on their own time. Then, by being fed product information in short videos and written tutorials, the sales representative’s retention would be longer and they would be able to absorb, use, and retain the information and make it a permanent part of their sales routine.
Such an approach keeps the salesperson from losing momentum in a sales call by having to say, “I don’t have the answer for that, but I’ll check and get right back to you.”
How Can You Avoid Wasting Sales Training Dollars?
To avoid wasting your sales training dollars, focus first on making sure that your sales team really knows and understands your company’s product and services. Accomplish that by setting up e-learning programs where they can absorb short but relevant explanations of products, including how they can be used, their benefits to the average consumer, what they are compatible with, and even what to do if something goes wrong. Most importantly, make sure they understand what distinguishes this product from a competitor’s product.
By using online tutorials for products and ensuring your sales staff gets used to one product line every few days, the flow of information can be consistent without hitting them like a tidal wave of information.
About the Author
Roz Bahrami is a blogger for SkyPrep, an online training software. Roz regularly contributes to blogs related to corporate training, L&D, and marketing.