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What Sales Training in 2017 Needs to Include

Bhaswati Bhattacharyya

December 21st, 2016

Improving Sales Training

Everybody understands the importance of sales training in today’s day and age. Perhaps this is the reason why spending on sales training has seen a steady rise since the recession in 2008-09. According to ATD research, organizations spend an average of $954,070 on sales training every year. But where is all this money going? There have been numerous studies explaining the challenges faced by sales trainers and what needs to change for the trainings to work. Here are some of the vital areas that sales training needs to improve upon in 2017:

Adopting technology that helps measure sales metrics 

McKinsey and Co recently surveyed 1,400 executives worldwide on a quest to find the biggest challenge in sales training. In this study, the majority of respondents said that the inability to measure the effectiveness of sales training is the biggest challenge they face. There was concern among them about the lack of metrics to adequately measure the impact of sales training. On the other side, just 20% even bothered to measure the impact of training programs at all, and only 13% tried to compute a financial return on their training to measure the return on investment. This highlights the need to measure ROI, as all investment with no way to measure returns can only pose as a challenge to organizational growth.

2017 should see organizations opening up to the idea of measuring the impact of their training programs, just as they have opened up to the idea of training. Technology and data analytics will play key roles here as heads of organizations will need to focus on technology that gives them a holistic solution to not just conduct their training programs hassle free across geographies, but also present them with sophisticated data analytics after each training program that can help organizations know exactly how they are doing in various areas.

Paying attention to soft skills

The world of sales is all about building long-lasting relationships based on trust and loyalty with the right kind of prospects. Technical know-how and a complete knowledge of products are definitely important, but it is self-awareness and emotional intelligence that distinguish the average sales rep from a true achiever. Research shows that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge. Soft skills such as communication, negotiation, presentation, empathy and cultivation of a positive attitude are some of the skills that should be featured by experts in any kind of sales training.

Most sales training programs focus too much on product portfolios and strict ways of approaching a client. With the right soft skills, a sales rep understands that every client has different and unique needs, and there is a unique way to address each one of them. One of the biggest reasons why clients say “no” to a sales rep is because they feel that their unique issues are not understood and addressed. With salespeople spending 90% of their day communicating with clients through one medium or another, understanding of human emotions and responding in a way that does not offend prospects is an essential skill. In 2017, sales training should focus on this vital element to be able to create sales superstars.

Catering to the needs of the ever-growing millennial workforce 

As per the US Bureau of Statistics Report, by 2020, 50% of the workforce will be millennials, and this number will increase to 75% in 2025. This generation is the new reality for organizations, and with so many of them joining the sales force, it is imperative for organizations to understand what exactly millennials are looking for in their jobs. Millennials continue to be the biggest job-hopping generation the world has ever seen.

Professional development and career growth mean the most to this generation, and sales training could be one of the best ways to leverage this undying thirst for knowledge. Implementing the right technology which engages employees with bite-sized, relevant and frequent content could be one of the biggest contributors. Employees also need engaging assessments with interactive question types and a real-time feedback mechanism. This allows for more interaction between the millennial workforce and their managers.

The approach should be to create a culture of coaching and mentorship, breaking the age-old hierarchical system of bosses and employees. Sales training should also be seamlessly accessible on a device of one’s own choice. Organizations should provide tools that can empower the trainees with a pool of knowledge at the press of a button. In 2017, organizations should give more importance to this rising share of workforce population and equip themselves well with content to prepare for the future.

About the author

Bhaswati Bhattacharyya

Bhaswati Bhattacharyya is a Product Specialist at Capabiliti, a mobile-first training and engagement solution for enterprises. Passionate about economics, Bhaswati also loves storytelling. She has a keen interest in start-ups, food and travel. In her 'me time' she picks up fiction novels, tries different cuisines or explores routes to less-traveled places on the world map. For more such cutting edge content, follow @TeamCapabiliti.

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