Regular sales training is essential for most organizations that want to generate new revenue opportunities and beat the competition more often. However, most organizations are challenged to prove that sales training investments change behavior and improve results.

Sales training for purposes of this article are training events designed to generally to improve the relationship between sales professionals and their clients and to also improve the sales performance and close rates of sales professionals. 

Recognize that training content is “Peanut Butter spread:” Sales training is intended to help participants effect change in their words, skills, actions, and behaviors. If your sales organization is typical, your salespeople have a range of knowledge, skills, and competencies before training, yet they all receive the same training content – “the peanut butter spread approach.” 

So by design, you can’t expect training content to effect the same level of change from the training participants. The peanut butter spread approach is challenging to avoid, as content development budgets and sales team size limits the ability to tailor training content to each participant.

The best approach to overcome the training content design limitation, your organization must allow the participants to self evaluate their knowledge, skills, and competencies before and after the training event.

Conduct A Pre-Event Survey: The first step is to survey salespeople before the training and ask them to rate their own level of skill or competency of the core training content elements. For each content element, they should rate themselves with criteria such as Foundational, Experienced, Advanced, or Expert.

After conducting hundreds of these surveys, we’ve found that the majority of salespeople rate themselves reasonably accurately, with a small percentage rating themselves better than they really are. The first survey will be your baseline.

The design of the survey needs to be limited to 10-12 content elements, and it needs to be able to be completed within 3-4 minutes. 

Conduct a Post-Event Survey: After the training (and coaching) has been completed and salespeople have been back in the field at least a month, the salespeople should retake the survey to rate their new level of skills and competencies. 

The difference between the pre and post-training event surveys will provide a reliable indication of the training impact. You’ll be able to understand how salespeople improved, or not, by content element. For those that did not improve as much as you would expect, you can provide additional training or coaching.

Training By Itself Yields Poor Results: It’s been proven that retention of most types of training content is 50% within 24 hours of the event and less than 2% after two weeks. If you training design or budget does not allow for post-even coaching or additional training exposure, then you may have to be satisfied with lower results.

If your organization has never conducted pre and post-event surveys, that is where you should start. Once you understand the impact of your training regimen as-is, then you will be in a position to recommend enhancements.

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