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By Liz Stone December 2, 2016

Do I Need a Sales Trainer or a Sales Consultant?: Blog 1 of 2

Type in “help for my sales team”, “sales team training”, “building a sales team”, “sales organization support”, or any other sales-support-related keywords or phrase into Google, and you’ll be bombarded with information. You'll find blogs containing “5 top tips” or “10 unique ideas” for improving efficiency and sales rep performance, articles from top business publications like Forbes and Business Insider, and websites from sales trainers and sales consultancies alike, guaranteeing “proven solutions” and “award winning approaches” to fast-track your team.

If you’ve already decided that you need outside help, the blogs and articles may provide tidbits of information that you can apply immediately, but they won’t solve your problem. That leaves you at a crossroads – do you need sales training or do you need sales consulting? While both are essential parts of the sales industry, they are often blurred; we know this to be true by the number of requests we get for sales training although we are a sales consultancy. 

To aid you in your search for the right partner, I'm writing a two-part blog series that will outline the differences between a sales training and sales consulting, when they work well and when they don’t, expected results of each, and how they compare to one another.

Blog series installments:

  1. Sales training (this blog)
  2. Sales consulting (next blog)

What is Sales Training?

Sales training involves the personal development of skills and techniques related to creating and exploring new sales opportunities, as well as closing sales for an organization. Sales training is a huge global market and still growing; in 2015 it was $2.46B in size.

Key Points & Differentiators: 

  • Sales training can be product training, skills training, or a combination of both
  • Sales training is not intended to change a sales organization, but to improve the performance of the sales team
  • Training sessions can range from brilliant to boring, depending on trainer, content, and approach
  • Sales trainers have a reputation for applying their particular methodology to any business or product, making their approach more canned than customized 
  • Sales training generally costs less than sales consulting, depending on project scope
  • Training courses take place over a short period of time, giving students a lot of information at once
  • Sales trainers work more closely with sales management and representatives, and less with sales leadership

When Sales Training Does Work Well

  • When management and leadership are on board with training – from selection of the sales trainer, to the content to be trained on, and the method in which it will be trained – and invested in its success.
  • When training is an ongoing system with sessions that build on top of, and enhance, one another, and includes performance gates and coaching along the way to ensure understanding and implementation.
  • When clear expectations of the outcome of sales training have been set. Sales training works well for its purpose of skill development and better product or service knowledge, but it can’t be expected to change an entire sales organization, nor is that what it’s intended to do.
  • When sales organizations are well-established and have high-performing sales reps, and need targeted training to learn more about a particular product line, change in the marketplace, competitor, etc.

When Sales Training Does Not Work Well

  • When there is a larger core issue within the sales organization that sales training alone can't fix, training becomes a band-aid solution.
  • When management isn’t committed to change, the sales training may have little effect and sales reps are unlikely to take it seriously.
  • When it's condensed into too short of time and packed with information, sales training sessions can often be mind-numbing, leaving students with little-to-no new information retained.
  • When company culture isn't accounted for. Every company is different and sales training that follows a canned methodology is unlikely to stick.
  • When training is too much talk and too little action, such as zero role-play or training gates, it's more like a school classroom than training. Training needs to be hand-on and practice must occur with the trainer and sales management, with honest feedback provided to students.
  • When training isn’t aligned with other departments involved with sales, such as Marketing, Support and/or Operations, and it’s not integrated into your existing CRM and sales process, it will lack consistency and is unlikely to have a lasting effect.
  • When results of sales training aren't measured through pre-/post-training assessments and correlation to revenue, to determine ROI and training success.

Results to Expect from a Good Sales Trainer

There are plenty of sales training companies out there to choose from, and research is required to find the best fit for your company and needs. If you've decided that you need a sales trainer versus a sales consultant, here are some things you should  expect, demand, and measure from your sales training company. 

  • Higher close rates and quota achievements
  • Improved sales team morale
  • Lower turnover rates
  • Sales reps better at aligning solutions and products with prospect needs
  • Improved sales behaviors, such as following a sales process, giving a presentation following the proper format, using CRM correctly, etc.
  • Measurable results that directly correlate to revenue increase and sales rep performance

I hope you found this blog useful in your search for a partner to aid in your sales success. Tune in next week for the second blog of this series about the good and bad of sales consulting, and how it compares.  

Topics: Sales Management, Sales Training, Sales Consulting

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