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10 Best Practices for Increasing Sales Training Impact

To some degree, every manager worries— and rightly so— that his/her sales training will turn out to be a waste of time and money.  Especially in these tough economic times, you can’t afford to take your people off the line for training activities which won’t actually improve their selling skills.  Here’s a no-nonsense checklist of 10 proven methods for increasing the impact of your sales training initiatives:

  1. Increase the visibility of commitment from next-level-up and senior level sponsoring managers who model, coach and reinforce training.
  2. Improve the strength of the linkage to your current business priorities — why is this training important to the business and what results are expected?
  3. Strengthen the focus on accountability for behavior change in participants (and managers of participants) through integration with the development section of your performance management system.
  4. Assess the level of work environment support for new behaviors; devise and implement plan to remove obstacles.
  5. Before the training is rolled out, develop a long term implementation plan that builds in reinforcement, follow up, and measurement, for at least three years.
  6. Audit and fine-tune linkage to supporting processes, such as selection, career development, succession planning, promotion, etc.
  7. Evaluate results to date using a Leading Indicator Evaluation survey or Retrospective Behavior Change survey, present to sponsoring management regularly (quarterly) with success testimonials, barriers to change, further management actions and support needed.
  8. Research and then expand use of existing internal best practices.
  9. Implement creative communications activities that fit with culture, e.g., newsletters and emails that publicize success; use FAQ, war stories, examples, tips, threaded discussions, etc.
  10. Develop refresher and reinforcement vehicles such as on-line tool kits and job aids.