What Constitutes a Good sales training program? It's all in the mix.
“The most effective sales training combines on-the-job coaching, classroom training, and self-directed education,” says Kristen Smithwick, manager of membership services, Best Practices LLC, a Chapel Hill, N.C. — based research firm. She suggests mixing instructor-led training with experiential activities such as role playing, games, and live or online simulations to help salespeople retain the concepts and skills taught.
Varying the types of training offered also makes it more accessible to people at any time — and can cut costs. “Classroom training, though generally regarded as one of the most effective approaches, is time-consuming and often expensive,” says Smithwick.
Best Practices' just-released survey of 36 companies across a variety of industries, including Harley-Davidson, Goldman Sachs, and Intel, found that, on average, companies deliver 30 percent of their sales training via ongoing on-the-job coaching. Also, 29 percent is delivered in a classroom setting, 21 percent through external vendors, and 15 percent through Web-based training. Workshops and simulations, both online and in person, are often overlapped with these other formats.
Ninety-four percent of respondents agreed that on-the-job coaching is most effective, while classroom training and external vendors also received high marks.
Regarding the volume of training, almost half of those surveyed train 91 percent to 100 percent of their sales associates annually. Just 21 percent train less than half of their sales staff each year. On average, participants train their sales employees 41 hours per year. Sixteen percent allocate more than 75 hours per year; 28 percent train employees 31 to 50 hours annually; and only 8 percent set aside fewer than 10 hours.
The average company has one trainer for every 783 sales associates. Seventy-four percent of companies have a full-time manager overseeing sales training operations: 52 percent have at least five full-time trainers on staff.
Are companies measuring theof their sales training? According to Best Practices' survey, yes: 65 percent or respondents said they do so, primarily with a survey at the end of the program.
For more info on the survey, go to www.best-in-class.com.