That is the one trillion dollar question. Every company wants to stay one step ahead of the competition and one of the most important ways they can ensure this is a strong sales team. According to a study cited on the Sales Force Training website, the caliber of the salesperson, in a B2B environment, is the most important factor influencing prospects’ decisions to buy. Keeping this in mind, many companies are investing in sales training and continued education for their sales people.
Consider these statistics:
- There is a $1 TRILLION global spend on employee training. (Source: Bureau of labor Statistics)
- US companies spend over $164 billion yearly on employee training. (Source: ASTD 2013 now ATD)
- On average, direct learning expenditure per employee is $1,208 (Source: ATD 2014 State of the Industry Report
- On average, large organizations report that their employees received 36 hours of training, approximately 4.5 days (ATD 2014 State of the Industry Report)
This is exciting news. Increasing levels of spending on employee training is an indicator that businesses are aggressively expanding and companies realize that they need skilled workers to grow. So what is wrong with this picture?
According to a recent article in Forbes, despite the billions being spent annually on training and recruiting – the percentage of sales reps that meet quota has stubbornly remained at 50 percent for years, if not decades. And the pressure is on. Today's L&D managers are challenged with prioritizing training goals around business needs; showing that training intervention directly improves KPIs, including the CEO’s most important objective – revenue.
So how can you ensure that your training dollars are driving the desired performance needed to achieve target KPIs? Here are some guidelines:
- Know which metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are important to overall company goals and objectives. Related reading: 7 Must-Track KPIs for Sales Success
- Understand and be able to articulate how your training programs and tools impact these goals and why they justify an investment in the resources – and question programs that aren't producing the results you need.
- Know your data and have solid, quantifiable training-performance reporting that you can take to management. Related reading: Measure Training Effectiveness with Performance Support and Tin Can AP
- Without fail, be ready to make changes when you do not see the desired business outcome. Related reading: 5 Signs You're Overtraining Your Employees
Now to address that burning question: If you stop training, will they stop selling?
Quite frankly, the answer is no. Because you can't stop training your sales people, but you do need to balance the benefits of training with the business needs of the company. The key issues that today's training managers need to address are not only: how quickly can they get employees “up to speed," but even more importantly; how to ensure they retain the knowledge and skills learned during training sessions and are able to apply it once they are back at their desks?
Where formal training ends, performance support continues
The day after formal training ends is the day training managers anxiously await to see if the employee is able to apply what he/she has learned. And I say "anxiously" because studies show that 50% of training is forgotten within 2 hours and 80% is forgotten within 2 weeks! That's why best-in-class L&D departments are implementing Performance Support solutions. Performance support allows employees to continue learning while they work. It provides real-time guidance and automation within the work environment so that knowledge is retained and applied correctly to business tasks at the moment of need. This allows employees to perform their jobs to the fullest of their capabilities without needing to retrain. L&D departments can even feel comfortable reducing portions of their training programs; reducing costs by up to 20% and increasing the bottom line.