Throwing Good Money, After Bad: The Curse of Sales Training

August 13, 2014 Appirio

By Braden Larmon


$4.2 billion!  That’s a big number. It represents the amount of wasted investments on traditional sales training made each year by organizations.  Annually, companies spend approximately $5B on sales training, which consists mainly of taking sales reps out of the field and their environment, and dragging them through two or more days of sales training. Within five weeks sales reps retain only 50% (there goes $2.5B down the drain) and within ninety days only 16% is retained. So when some industries are spending up to $30,000 annually per rep on training, and turnover within the first year can be as high as 33%, hundreds of thousands of dollars are being flushed down the drain.

How do we shift our focus to productivity and reducing the amount of time Sales reps are spending on non-related sales activities? Ineffective sales training programs typically have too much information and at irregular intervals. And the most actionable information is often locked in the collective minds of the team in the form of “tribal knowledge.”

Solving this problem isn’t an exercise in streamlining workflow and content management. This also can’t be solved with a top-down approach. To solve this problem, organizations must focus on knowing what will accelerate deal closure, understand deal size and anticipate client needs and competitive pressures before they arise.

It is every organization’s responsibility to arm their reps with the right information at the right time. There are two key ways companies can get on the path of improving their sales effectiveness:

  • Create an on-boarding program that shifts from being a data-dump exercise to an introduction to the tools that will help the rep thrive. Expectations must be clear, and organizations should provide the content and context that will help them achieve their goals.
  • Invest in a set of tools that provide content in context, that doesn’t require an entirely new team to build monitor and support.  The key is to start small and focus on the things that you know you can have an impact.  Show progress; invite your marketing and compliance teams to engage.  Find ways to simplify.  In sales training, less is more.

Every company has to balance the demands between reducing operational cost and growing top line sales. When companies make an investment in a CRM tool like Salesforce, they need to include a better way to educate their sales team. Every day we are partnering with organizations to transform their organizations to drive the most in their Salesforce investment. Beyond becoming an effective application for tracking sales activities, Salesforce and the AppExchange ecosystem has the potential to become a sales effectiveness tool.

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