Leading companies engaged in major sales in the B2B market have crossed the Rubicon when it comes to sales training. They realize that prospering requires not only great products and services but also a sales team that can sell and be a competitive advantage. As a result of this trend sales training is becoming more important and is taking on some new looks.
One new look is companies are micro-targeting their sales training. Examples include: developing special sales training for new product launches, designing sales training to support strategic initiatives like moving from selling individual products to selling an integrated solution, or creating custom-designed programs just for high-potential account executives.
Let’s look at one of these topics – programs for high-potential sales people.
First, why is sales management willing to commit the time, effort, and money to create special programs for their high-potential sales reps? As we share with our customers, three payoffs most often make the short list.
- Revenue Generation. High-potential sales reps have both the desire and the ability to learn new skills. They bring to the party the attitudes, commitment, and talent to learn new complex skills and more importantly they can rapidly apply those skills to the challenges faced in the real world. Sales training for high-potential sales reps has an immediate payoff.
- Retention. Replacing sales reps in general is costly. But replacing a substantial number of your top talent can be a game changer. And, when it comes to keeping your very best; money is not always the only needed answer. High-potential sales people in general also value nonfinancial rewards such as extraordinary learning experiences. Retention becomes particularly important if you are living in an industry that is experiencing a “boom” period where the completion is more than willing to steal your very best.
- Bench Strength. As research has repeatedly shown, the front-line sales manager is the pivotal job for developing a great sales team. Unfortunately good ones no longer grow on trees and the notion of simply taking a high producing sales rep and declaring them to be your next sales manager can be an act of folly. One of the additional benefits of specialized training for your high-potential sales reps is you can develop leadership and coaching skills. Thereby you are putting in place a talent pool for future management positions.
Like most things that have a significant payoff developing a sales training program for your high-potential reps is not so easy. It is not simply dusting off that old sales training program you used last year and making a few updates. Nor, is it buying some standard off-the-shelf program from a training vendor. Let’s take a look at three considerations:
- Preparation. To maximize effectiveness the sales training program needs to be custom-designed for your high-potential sales reps and to the challenges they face. In general custom-designed is a base line criterion for developing micro-targeted sales training programs.
- Delivery. It’s always both about the dance and the dancer. In this case that translates into using an experienced faculty versus a single trainer. The idea is to pass on the selling expertise and best practices of your organization. The best combination is a senior instructor plus experienced sales managers who can introduce the best practices and provide expert feedback.
- Instructional Design. The key is to minimize lecture and maximize practice and feedback. When all the practice is customized to your market and experts provide all the feedback, the power of that rule is optimized. The best instructional design for achieving that goal is a sales simulation.
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