Thursday, 17 November 2011

Does sales and customer service training increase performance?

There is building evidence world wide that traditional sales and customer service training is either failing completely or rendering sales teams less effective than before the training was conducted.

From extensive observation and experience, it is our belief that traditional “off the shelf” training delivered in the classroom, while valuable, has little long-term effect on behaviour change or sustainable productivity improvement. While there are many reasons why it may fail, we believe there are four main arguments as to why.
  1. Low level of ownership in the organisation to a common goal and vision or philosophical approach to strategic selling.
  2. Poorly prepared content not directly related to the sales or customer environment
  3. Poor design and delivery models
  4. Low levels of ownership in the ongoing refining loop so real learning is hardly ever retained.

A group of high performing people chasing a confused or miss-communicated vision is fraught with danger. Training executed with no real attachment to the critical success factors of the business will not drive profit and growth.

There is a common belief in Australia that “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to sales training content. There is ample evidence however, that this is not the case. Every organization has complex variations in their sales methodology and processes which relate directly to success or otherwise.

There is no doubt that the design and delivery of sales and customer service training has significant effects on sustainable results being achieved. Most lecture style training does not allow for the retention of complex models nor does it allow for practice in real situations with real customers. It is proven that there is a learning retention of around 70% when training is delivered in an experiential style combined with in-field coaching. Where as there is a less than 15% retention with one, two or three day lecture style training. 

Unfortunately many training programs are not developed with individual organizations in mind and offer little resemblance to the sales persons customer environment, resulting in poor sales behaviour and therefore reduced performance.

For real behavioural change, trainees must frame, learn and experience in training rooms, try new models in the field and then have a solid mechanism to refine the experience after the event.