Beyond Sales Methodology Training

Sales methodology training systems are a little like fad diets. When one system fails, you blame the particulars of the prescribed behavior, not the concept itself of a quick fix. And with evangelical zeal you rush to try again. The latest system promises success and includes an exciting new set of jargon. After a week-long training, the team is energized! This time will be different…

Sales effectiveness is a key growth lever for many organizations. When attempting to increase sales effectiveness, executives often turn to sales methodology training. Stakes are higher, timelines are shorter, organizations are grasping for speedy solutions. As a result, sales training is big business. According to The Harvard Business Review, U.S. companies spend $15 billion on sales training every year. But is it the most effective use of resources?

The Madness to Your Method
Research has consistently shown that sales training does not produce long-term, sustainable results. According to our research, within 90 days, salespeople only retain ten percent of what they learned through sales methodology training. So any benefits from sales methodology training are usually short-lived. In other words, the impulse to harness the momentum of the latest sales methodology training may be misguided. There are better alternatives to driving revenue growth through your sales organization. Below are three recommended alternatives to sales methodology training:

1) Develop Key Competencies
Rather than a one-size-fits all training approach, an examination of the individual competencies of each member of your sales team can yield more meaningful, longer-lasting results. Regardless of methodology, what are the competencies that people need to be effective within those methodologies? These skills transform the sales team, instead of overlaying their behaviors with a new sales system. Competency development training includes:

  • Identifying those core behaviors
  • Assessing each rep individually
  • Developing personalized competency development plans

Each plan names the two or three competencies for each rep to focus on and then maps out a plan for the learning process, simultaneously providing sales managers with a valuable coaching tool.

2) Examine Structure & Compensation Models
Too often sales structure reflects the internal priorities of the organization, aligning to products or geographic regions. We recommend a customer-centric approach. This tactic has the added benefit of resonating with the active salesforce. Research indicates that “working sales professionals [are] more apt to focus on compensation and team structure.”

“The impulse to harness the momentum of the latest sales methodology training may be misguided. There are better alternatives to driving revenue growth through your sales organization.”

Meanwhile, compensation models are often too complex, siphoning sales reps’ time into tracking their compensation and away from meeting their quotas. Such broad organizational changes can seem daunting to leadership (especially compared to a week-long sales methodology training), but we attack the problem in discrete, manageable phases for immediate results.

3) Foster a Culture of Coaching
Were your sales managers promoted because of their coaching skills or their coaches or their sales ability? The two skill sets do not always perfectly align. As we explain in “Sales effectiveness: unlock your sales team’s potential for growth,” sales performance does not necessarily correlate with the ability to help others succeed. More than three quarters of high-performing sales representatives do not become effective sales managers. Shift that ratio in your favor by establishing a foundation for your mid-level managers to provide individualized coaching for their direct reports.

Through competency development, realignment of sales structure and compensation, and attention to the coaching abilities of your mid-level sales management, you can transform your sales force without adopting a new sales methodology. Anxious to get started? Learn how Baker Tilly can help.