The Importance of Continuous Sales Training
Long-term Consistency Always Beats Short-term Intensity
Despite this truth, most people remain focused on the short-term. This tendency is understandable given the many short-term incentives that surround us.
An analysis from The University of Western Ontario shows that “roughly 80 percent of managers admit that they would willingly sacrifice long-term performance to smooth earnings or meet a short-term earnings target.” Put simply, financial goals are often prioritised for the short term, forcing leaders to defer consequences.
There are other reasons why leaders succumb to short-term thinking. Research from The Journal of Corporate Finance reveals that “in the past 20 years, average CEO tenures have decreased from about 8 to less than 4 years.” As a result, the outlook among CEOs is narrowing.
This limited purview comes at a cost. The same research concluded that “firms with CEOs that have long decision horisons have high market valuation.”
The most successful companies understand the value of long-term thinking and therefore support ongoing training that develops the seller’s skills over their career.
Here, we explore the four reasons why a continuous sales training approach is crucial for driving long-term selling success.
Continuous Sales Training Demonstrates the Organisation’s Investment in the Seller
Sellers are more likely to succeed when they see that the business is invested in their success. The relationship between the sellers and the leadership becomes more of a partnership.
This dynamic strengthens when the sellers are involved in the investment planning process. That is, the sellers gain a sense of control over their development when they have influence over the type of training employed. They begin to feel responsible for the outcomes of the process.
Taking this approach means communicating the intent to pursue sales training early and often. The sales team will appreciate having input in the process from the start and being able to guide the training. Like the sales training, the sellers’ inclusion must be continuous. To foster a sense of agency the sales team needs to know that they have been involved every step of the way.
Visible investment in the seller will always serve long-term growth because the training helps the seller become more effective at their job while simultaneously giving those same sellers greater control over their future.
Ongoing Skill Growth Keeps Pace with Changes in the Market
In recent years the buyer has become more independent. They also increasingly make purchasing decisions as a group. These are just some of the challenges facing sellers today.
The true challenge, however, is not the buyer’s new approach. The true challenge is often the inflexibility of a sales methodology that has outlived its relevance. Sellers need a new approach. Moreover, they need an approach that can do more than address these new challenges. They need a methodology that will be able to change and adapt as more unforeseen challenges emerge.
Ongoing sales training serves this need by constantly developing new skills within the sales team. The result is a sales organisation that moves at the same speed as the market. This approach also equips the selling organisation to make better use of its resources. For example, the most effective sales leaders are extending training to their service teams. Doing so enables service professionals to serve the customer’s expanding needs with additional solutions.
Periodic Training Prevents the Team From Drifting Apart
Even the most cohesive sales team will drift apart over the long term. Each seller will eventually develop their individual approach which is often a version of the original sales methodology.
The problem with this trend is that it becomes difficult for leaders to manage the team. In this setting, the sales leader cannot make changes to the methodology at scale. Additionally, it becomes difficult to gauge what selling behaviors are most effective when wins and losses are the results of a disparate set of practices.
Continuous sales training solves this problem by preventing “drift.” The sales team is regularly realigned to the same methodology. Moreover, the training not only reiterates the strategy but also reasserts it by repeatedly showing why the methodology is important and why it works.
As a result, the sales team represents a unified approach to the market. The outcome is a more connected team that is better able to exchange ideas because everyone is conversant in the same sales language.
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Long-Term Development Supports Retention
Continuous sales training drives results. These results translate into professional and financial success for the seller. That success drives retention.
Finding, hiring, and training new sales professionals demands time and money. It’s not surprising that high turnover is regularly cited as a top challenge for sales leaders. The solution is for leaders to become more effective at creating the kind of environment that will encourage sellers to stay.
There is no better incentive for the seller than success. The reason: success not only brings financial and professional rewards, but it also begets more success. As the seller sees the results of their work they develop the kind of confidence needed to grow.
Regular sales training is what starts and maintains this process. This approach does not need to remove sellers from the field. Many of today’s sales training solutions leverage new learning theories and new technology to deliver skills that can be learned in the flow of work. The result is learning that can be applied immediately and without the opportunity cost of pulling sellers away from in-pursuit sales.
Committing to a long-term strategy means investing and reinvesting in the sales team with continuous sales training. To someone standing on a dock, the closest ship will always loom large. Effective leaders, however, keep sight on the distant horizon where small ships promise big gains when they come to port.
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