Sales training companies are in the unique position of selling their services to salespeople. Selling to sellers -- very meta.
And as any salesperson worth their salt knows, buyers today are more informed than ever. So when sellers become the buyers, they're fully prepared to do their research. Thoroughly.
Sales leaders hire external sales training companies for a variety of reasons. But whether you're looking for a quick two-day seminar to shake up the team, or a more significant reskilling exercise, this checklist can help you research all the relevant aspects of a sales training company to ensure you make the right choice. And salespeople understand more than anyone the cost of choosing the wrong provider -- tread lightly.
1) Know your team's needs from the start.
To avoid getting sold on bells and whistles that your sales organization doesn't need, take time to evaluate and diagnose the problems within your team before you start looking for a sales training provider. That way, you can keep a laser-focus on your goal and select the trainer that's truly the best fit.
2) Determine what area you'd like to focus on.
Do you want to get your reps on the social selling train? Or are they stumbling when it comes to connect calls? Different sales training companies have different specialties. Short-list trainers whose experience lines up with your goals.
3) Determine the length of time you want to devote to training.
Maybe a day-long seminar is all you need, with the intention of firing up the troops. On the other end of the spectrum, you might want to totally overhaul your current sales process, and need to invest in a months-long training engagement. Either way, make sure your sales training providers offer programs that correspond to the desired level of detail and duration.
4) Evaluate the follow up plan.
According to Training Industry, 50% of sales training content is forgotten within five weeks without ongoing reinforcement. Don't spend money on sales training only to have it go in one ear and out the other. Inquire after the training provider's follow up and reinforcement processes, and make sure they meet your expectations.
5) Peruse the client list.
Much of selling today hinges on buyer- and industry-specific knowledge. So it's worthwhile to check out a sales training company's customer list to see if they've worked with organizations within your industry or that sell to a similar target customer. Requesting a reference call never hurts.
5) Think about location.
Most sales training programs feature a mix of in-person and elearning. But if you'd like to skew to more in-person sessions, seeking a local sales trainer might be wise.
6) Inquire about selling philosophy/methodology.
No matter how much a sales trainer customizes their program to your team, their core philosophy won't change. And if you flat-out disagree with it, it's probably not a good fit. Dig into the company's selling values and beliefs make sure they line up with your idea of how sales should be done.
Additionally, some sales training providers teach within the context of a patented methodology. If this is the case, think: Does this methodology gel with your current sales process? If not, are you willing to do a major process overhaul? Ask if and how much the provider is willing to customize their curriculum to your team's sales process.
7) Evaluate the sales management component.
A sales training initiative requires the support of sales management. Without the managers on board, there's no hope of reps taking the content to heart. With this in mind, make sure the training company offers a suitable management program to complement the rep component.
8) Consider an assessment.
Some sales training companies offer assessments as part of their curriculum, to diagnose reps' issues and measure their progress against specific goals. This might be a desirable feature for some sales teams. But if your organization already uses an internal skills diagnostic, subjecting reps to another might be overkill.
9) Ask about ROI.
Many sales training initiatives fall down in the assessment stage. Did the team get smarter and more effective? How can you tell? Ask the provider to explain how they measure results, and make sure this method fits your expectations.
10) Assess the content.
Request a sample curriculum or piece of training content to evaluate the direction and quality.
11) Check that all desired formats are included.
Does your team learn best with videos? Audio? Physical worksheets? Online resources? Make sure that content is delivered in all the channels you'd like.
12) Investigate the showing/doing split.
It's common wisdom that people learn best by doing. Yet, many sales training companies slant their efforts towards showing, and allot only a small portion of time to interactive roleplays and exercises. Look into the division between formal training and interactive learning and make sure the skew is where your team needs it to be.
Originally published Dec 19, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated December 03 2019