Chapter 2: Sales Training Needs Assessment Questions
In a perfect world, every sales manager and salesperson would have an individualized development plan that is based on their individual needs and learning style. However, this is not yet a perfect world and training a large sales force often means making trade-offs. Here are a few suggestions to consider.
You will see this in companies that have new leadership, or companies that are expanding, reorganizing, integrating mergers and acquisitions, or implementing new technologies such as CRM or marketing automation. In such an instance, you will be told that, as a result of the larger strategic initiative, the sales team will need to change the way it operates and that the company requires a sales training partner to help with the transition. In these situations, it is common to redesign sales processes and implement new sales methodologies. Everyone bites the bullet and drinks the Kool-Aid, whether they like it or not. This will be a high-profile, high-risk project, so you really want to do your homework to find the right partner with the resources and experience to guide you to success.
This takes commitment from your organization, but there is tremendous value in knowing why you win or lose significant opportunities. You can replicate winning behaviors and remediate losing behaviors to help drive continuous improvement in your sales force. This market insight is more objective and creates a higher-level of buy-in because it is difficult to argue when a customer who evaluated you, relative to a number of competitors, tells you that you have a strength or weakness.
Your front-line sales managers see it all—the good, the bad and the ugly. Their perspective will give you tremendous insight into what their people do well and where they need help. Don’t just poll your sales managers though. Instead, have direct conversations with them to learn about the specific weaknesses they see in the field. This also helps to build their buy-in to support the training that you introduce.
Many sales training companies offer assessments to measure the skill proficiency of your salespeople across several dimensions. These assessments can be used to create individual development plans, and they can be rolled-up to the division or organization level to identify and prioritize needs. Most of these assessments are survey-based, and do a better job of measuring knowledge than either actual application of methodology or skill.
Salespeople appreciate being part of the process and being asked about what they see in the market, and about their needs. If you ask, however, be prepared to respond to what they tell you by acting in some capacity. Otherwise, you risk fueling cynicism and discontent.
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