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April 2, 2019

3 Reasons Why Your Sales Training Fails To Produce ROI

Today’s sales training and enablement professionals can’t afford to be dismissive of ROI: if your sales training and coaching programs aren’t generating tangible results – in terms of higher revenues, faster ramp-up, shorter sales cycles, etc. – you need to find out why and apply the available fixes.

In our experience, there are 3 reasons why sales training programs fail to produce ROI.

  1.     Sales managers don’t prioritize training

At many organizations, sales managers are under pressure to prioritize immediate, short-term goals over those that are longer term. Because the managers want (or need) their team to get out there and sell – or perform other tasks directly related to revenue generation – they don’t set aside sufficient time for coaching and reinforcement of key learning content.

It’s important for both managers, and the executives to whom they report, to understand that, while the time spent by reps on training may not generate any money in the next few weeks or months, that training will have a profound impact on ROI over the long haul. Toward that end, managers and trainers may have to make the case to senior leadership about the long-term benefits of thoroughly enabling the sales team. Without sponsorship from above, managers will have little incentive – or even a disincentive – to create and maintain a coaching culture.

  1.     Critical selling gaps have been misdiagnosed

We often hear from clients that their reps need better negotiating skills. Dig a little deeper, though, and what you often unearth is not a lack of negotiating prowess, but a failure (earlier in the process) to communicate the proven value of the product or service. The symptom – having to lower the price to make the sale – isn’t the result of poor negotiating skills, but of failing to position the item as a value-added offering, not a commodity.

For a coaching program to generate a good ROI, it has to target the right problems with adequate solutions. So, for your reps to become “better at closing,” they might first need training in effective pre-call planning – e.g., what kinds of questions to ask, how to actively listen to customer concerns, etc. In many cases, a little “reverse engineering” of the symptoms can help to pinpoint the actual causes of your reps’ problems.

  1.     Training tools are not customized or relevant

To drive engagement, training solutions, including e-learning platforms, should be fairly simple to use, as well as customized and relevant to your team’s needs. Otherwise, they’ll probably sit on a shelf instead of being utilized.

Unfortunately, many organizations are initially attracted to complex learning tools – per the theory that “if you have complex problems, then complex solutions must be the answer.” In our experience, simpler is better. It actually takes a lot of skills and efforts to design a training tool that’s easy to understand and use – one that also makes learning engaging and fun.

We also know that simple, relevant tools are tools that actually get applied in the field, and ultimately, that’s something everyone wants. So look for training tools that are simple and straightforward, even if what you’re selling is complicated.

Download our ebook, 4 Ways to Quantify the ROI of Sales Training Technology, to learn more on the ROI that sales training and enablement pros should seek to capture.

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