Two Training Contradictions (And How They’re Reshaping Sales Training Today)

By Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer

August 10, 2016

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In an ideal world, sales managers would have the power to freeze time, get their whole team in a two-day training workshop, and not lose one crucial second of prospecting or sales calls.

Unfortunately for time-strapped sales managers with ambitious targets, that world doesn’t exist. It’s one reason only 21 percent of companies are able to train as many salespeople on the skills they think they need, according to a joint survey from Corporate Visions and Sales and Marketing Management.

The new survey revealed two contradictions that are driving new requirements for sales training, today and tomorrow.

Contradiction #1: Survey respondents say they primarily rely on sales managers to choose the training options and plans for their salespeople. However, these same sales managers balk at letting their salespeople leave the field for training.

Of the respondents who aren’t able to train as many reps as they’d like, 56 percent identified taking reps out of the field as the biggest reason for not providing the necessary level of sales training. Meanwhile, budget constraints ranked a distant second in the voting.

Main Challenge: Does it make sense to leave training decisions up to managers if they’re reluctant to invest the time?

Contradiction #2: No investment in the most effective training format.

Of the nearly 300 companies responding to the survey, 45 percent declared that instructor-led classroom training is the most effective at changing salespeople’s behavior.

Despite the perceived effectiveness of this training, investment in the instructor-led format will be flat in the coming years.

Meanwhile, 65 percent of companies say they plan to increase their investment in virtual, online training. Ironically, this format registered significantly lower in the effectiveness vote.

Main Challenge: How do the people in charge of delivering training become responsive to these demands despite believing the alternative is less desirable?

These contradictions—and the training challenges they expose—are factors that companies are going to have to contend with when they think about effective training going forward.

Learn more about the biggest training challenges companies are up against today in our State of the Conversation Report: Beyond the Classroom. And read my follow-up post to discover what’s needed to overcome them — and what singing, acting and dancing have to do with it!