The rationale for these investments vary but are usually related to:
- Educating new sales hires
- Implementing a common sales methodology
- Improving overall selling skills
- Transitioning to a new approach to selling
Intuitively, these are legitimate reasons to invest in sales training programs, but in many cases an important consideration is left out. It’s critical to clearly understand the specific growth strategies that are integral to the business before allocating time and money to improvement initiatives. A classic approach to defining growth strategy is depicted by the Ansoff matrix, which depicts four fundamental strategies for revenue growth. Each of these strategies have a specific set of typical challenges for sales effectiveness. An essential step in performance improvement is defining specific goals that align with growth strategies.
For example, if market penetration is the basis of growth strategy, it’s important to define specific, measurable goals and metrics that are associated with the strategy. When goals and metrics are established, the next step is to weight the four fundamental revenue levers in alignment with goals. Then data-driven models automatically recommend competencies that have the highest potential impact on goal attainment for your team.
This alignment provides insight into where to prioritize capability development for maximum impact on specific sales goals and metrics. While learning and development should not be restricted to these competencies, this approach provides guidance on which capabilities should be fully developed (to a mastery level), and where to apply coaching focus.
By adopting this approach, sales organizations can rapidly align with the needs of the growth strategy, combining foundational learning with agile development loops that follow a LEARN>PRACTICE>APPLY>COACH path to mastery.
Following this approach to optimize the return on training investments has several key content and technology requirements:
- Granular learning and development content at the competency level
- Localized content if there is a need to support global sales strategies
- Data-driven models to align growth strategy goals with focus competencies
- Specific application cases for each competency with coaching guidelines
- Analytics to track specific levels of capability development compared to goal attainment