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STATE OF SALES TRAINING

AN ASTD RESEARCH STUDY sponsored by


State Of SaleS training

an aStd reSearch Study sponsored by


Š 2009 by the American Society for Training & Development. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to ASTD Research, 1640 King Street, Box 1443, Alexandria, VA 22313-1443. Ordering Information Research reports published by ASTD can be purchased by visiting our website at store.astd.org or by calling 800.628.2783 or 703.683.8100. ASTD Product Code: 190903 ISBN-10: 1-56286-705-9 ISBN-13: 978-1-56286-705-8 ASTD Editorial Staff Director of Research: Mike Czarnowsky Senior Research Analyst: Andrew Paradise Editorial Manager: Jacqueline Edlund-Braun Associate Editor: Maureen Soyars Interior Design and Production: Kristi King Cover Design: Kristi King


| cOntentS |

3 | fOrewOrd 4 | a nOte frOm Our SpOnSOr 6 | executive Summary 9 | intrOductiOn 11 | SectiOn i: underStanding SaleS training leaderShip 13 | SectiOn ii: determining the fOcuS and delivery methOdS Of SaleS training 21 | SectiOn iii: diScOvering the frequency and duratiOn Of SaleS training 25 | SectiOn iv: appreciating the impOrtance Of SaleS training 33 | SectiOn v: integrating SaleS training with the learning functiOn 37 | SectiOn vi: Sharing knOwledge On SaleS training effOrtS 39 | cOncluSiOn and pOlicy recOmmendatiOnS 41 | referenceS 43 | appendix 73 | aBOut the authOrS and cOntriButOrS 75 | aBOut the cOntriButing OrganizatiOnS

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| foreword |

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n any economy, finding new and innovative ways to drive sales results is a critical practice for organizations. Business leaders expect their sales forces to have the necessary skills and knowledge to operate at their peak capability. As a result, there is an increased scrutiny on sales training efforts and a focus on some key questions: Are businesses taking the right steps to ensure that their sales teams have the necessary skills to handle all of these new challenges? How does an organization know that it is targeting the right competencies in its sales training efforts? As one component of a new ASTD content offering to help businesses maximize the return on sales training initiatives, the ASTD/Intrepid/i4cp State of Sales Training Study answers these types of questions. Study results show that there is a distinct lack of clear, comprehensive industry data on many sales training topics. Although most decision-makers have a vision for achieving optimum sales training, they might not be aware of the steps needed to get there. This report helps to illuminate the strategy, processes, and commitment that is required to enhance and increase sales performance. The ASTD/Intrepid/i4cp State of Sales Training Study is an in-depth review of sales training practices. By accessing knowledge on sales training leadership, delivery, frequency, and integration, it helps decision makers benchmark the planning and execution of sales training. The data supplements a comprehensive review of new hire training, sales management training, and

product training. Results of this study will provide insights to help sales professionals improve sales training content development and delivery. Covering issues like sales management, to integrating sales training with the learning function, to the use of Web 2.0 technologies, the ASTD/Intrepid/i4cp State of Sales Training Study includes data about several important topics in sales team development. We are confident that the data will be actionable for both sales forces and learning professionals. Help drive your top-line results by plugging into the latest trends and best practices in sales training.

Tony Bingham President and CEO ASTD

foreword

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| A Note from Our Sponsor |

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n this current selling environment, twenty-first century companies are focusing more on the performance of the sales team and less on individual “stars.” They realize that you can no longer depend upon the “sales superstar” to deliver the big deal or close the critical sale. Generating more revenue with a smaller, smarter sales force is an undeniable competitive advantage, regardless of industry segment, target customers, or product focus. In today’s competitive, fast-changing marketplace, everyone on the sales team must quickly and effectively acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to perform at the highest levels of proficiency. How are today’s training organizations meeting these challenges head-on and turning ordinary sales personnel into extraordinary performers? And how are they doing it faster and with fewer resources than ever before? The ASTD/Intrepid/i4cp State of Sales Training Study provides essential insights into these and other key questions about the sales training environment and ongoing challenges of sales training. The goals of this important ASTD research study were to find out why successful companies launch new sales training programs in the first place, what alternatives they considered along the way, how they designed and implemented their new programs, and, most importantly, what they were able to achieve as a result of their efforts.

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In brief, what important findings did the study reveal? • Sales training is widely recognized as an important competitive strength that clearly impacts each firm’s bottom line. • The majority of firms focus their training efforts on enhancing individual selling skills with a secondary emphasis on product training and sales management training. • Even though much has been written about online or Internet-based delivery methods and other technology-enhanced approaches, these modalities are used less frequently than traditional, instructorled classroom training. • Contemporary sales trainers still focus on building individual selling skills, including listening skills and relationship-building skills. The traditional emphasis on “hard selling” persuasive skills seems to be giving way to a more consultative approach. • Sales training functions become more effective when sales training strategies, learning content, and delivery are fully integrated into a firm’s wider base of learning and development activities.


Finally, many industry analysts and sales professionals are talking about the power of Sales 2.0 as an emerging paradigm that integrates Web 2.0 and “on-demand” technologies, with proven sales learning techniques in order to increase sales effectiveness and velocity. Sales 2.0 is seen by many as enhancing the quality of communication and collaboration between sellers and buyers and members of the selling team, and stimulating a more proactive and visible integration of sales knowledge and measurement into the customer’s buying cycle. Of great interest is the finding that Sales 2.0 and Web 2.0 paradigms have, as yet, had little or no impact on generalized sales training approaches. The study suggests that individuals are actually better able to learn selling skills by sharing knowledge within formal or informal mentoring/coaching relationships, engaging in “trial and error” learning, and observing other highly skilled sales professionals. This may likely indicate that sales training is evolving at a more cautious pace than envisioned by industry analysts and may actually follow a more incremental evolution from traditional sales learning methods toward some variation of using customized Sales 1.5 approaches while on the road toward Sales 2.0.

their own “state of sales training” against industry norms and best practices. In this fast-moving and challenging economy, these findings provide significant insights that enable sales training and corporate learning leaders to make and execute critical business decisions regarding the bottom line effectiveness of their respective sales force. The ASTD/Intrepid/i4cp State of Sales Training Study demonstrates the critical need for effective sales training and the obstacles and challenges that sales training professionals face in achieving that goal. In the end, regardless of delivery mode, implementation strategy, or content, effective sales training must help the sales representative scrambling to close deals and generate revenue to pull her own weight, contribute fully to the overall team, and sustain and enhance her knowledge and skills. As a learning solutions provider committed to research, best practices, and excellence in sales performance and learning, we are pleased to sponsor this report. Vikesh Mahendroo President & CEO Intrepid Learning Solutions

The current study explores each of these critical topics in depth and allows readers to carefully monitor important trends in sales training, identify best practices, and stay ahead of innovations within the industry. The report’s wealth of benchmark data enables readers to compare

a note from our sponsor

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| executive summary |

In today’s challenging economic environment no company can afford the missed opportunities that stem from an unprepared sales force. An organization’s sales force drives the bottom line—and effective sales training is the bedrock of a successful sales program. The ASTD/ Intrepid/i4cp State of Sales Training Study (the study) explores how today’s organizations are approaching sales training and sheds light on opportunities that organizations are missing to optimize those approaches or consider new ones. In our study, we asked survey participants some groundbreaking questions and the responses that we received provide new insight into the current—and future—state of sales training globally. In these economically challenging times, there is great pressure to achieve revenue forecasts, a goal made more difficult when budget cuts affect the ability to attract top talent. The study gives both learning professionals and sales team members cutting-edge ideas for bringing the sales organization to a new level of performance.

Understanding Sales Training Leadership More than half (56 percent) of study participants entrusted sales training accountability to either the CEO or an executive-level sales leader. This statistic underscores the recognition of many organizations that sales training has a direct impact on the bottom line. Larger companies are most likely to place the primary responsibility for sales training/development with a sales executive or with a learning executive.

Sales management training is the category of sales training addressed with the least frequency—less than annually, if at all.

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Determining the Focus and Delivery Methods of Sales Training The study inquired about five specific categories of sales training: • selling skills • product training • industry training • company-specific training • sales management training. These five sales training categories all contribute to success, but organizations place more emphasis on some of them than they do with others. In fact, selling skills is the most critical type of training, accounting for more than one-third of the annual sales training hours. Product training receives the next largest share, while industry training, companyspecific training, and sales management training receive shares that are typically at a much lower level overall.

Examining Methods of Delivery The study examined nine specific training delivery methods to determine the most popular approaches used in delivering training content in three different areas: selling skills, product training, and sales management. In each case, it was clear that more traditional methods continue to trump technology-based methods, not surprising in the face-to-face people business of sales training. For example, internal instructor-led classroom training leads as the most popular method of delivering each type of sales training content. Other popular approaches are on-thejob learning, coaching/mentoring, and external instructorled classroom training. The study found that online or web-based methods, such as podcasts, wikis, and other technology-based approaches, are used far less often than more traditional methods.


Discovering more about the Frequency and Duration of Sales Training Of the five types of sales training, organizations provide product-related training with greatest frequency—quarterly or more often—probably because products tend to change more quickly than selling skills or sales management skills. Other training—company-specific training, industry training, and selling skills—is more likely to be provided on an annual basis. Sales management training, on the other hand, is the focus addressed with the least frequency, less than annually, if at all. First-year sales team members tend to benefit the most from sales training—37 percent receive 16 days or more of sales training annually. The volume of training afforded to third-year and tenth-year sales professionals drops dramatically. More than one-third (36 percent) of thirdyear sales professionals average only three to six days of sales training annually, and 39 percent of tenth-year sales professionals average zero to four days of sales training. The study also found that few people beyond the sales team receive any training in selling skills. It’s possible that this trend reduces sales success, given the study also found a significant positive correlation between the degree to which respondents said they’d had success meeting their sales quotas and the degree to which non-sales managers had training in selling skills.

Appreciating the Importance of Selling skills Training Today’s selling environment tends to call for “softer,” or more people-oriented, skills rather than “hard sell” skills. Contemporary sales trainers focus on consultative selling, listening, and relationship-building skills above all. This suggests that the traditional profile of salespeople relying primarily on their powers of persuasion may be a relic of the past.

Contemporary sales trainers focus on consultative selling skills, listening skills, and relationship-building skills above all. Other popular aspects of selling skills training identified in the study include adapting the sales process to specific buying processes, problem solving/diagnosis, closing skills, and prospecting approaches. The study suggests that it’s better to learn selling skills by sharing knowledge, but trial and error works, too. Included among the best ways for sales team members to learn selling skills are formal mentoring/coaching, trial and error, and observation. By contrast, technologybased learning methods such as online delivery, wikis, and other Web 2.0 tools are seldom used as a route to learning selling skills.

Integrating Sales Training into the Learning Function For most organizations, sales training decisions, such as design, delivery, budget, personnel, and content strategy, tend to reside within the sales function, making sales training more isolated from, rather than integrated into, the corporate learning function. Those who integrate their sales training into the broader corporate function are most likely to integrate content strategy and the delivery of training. But the learning design, staff training, and budgeting areas of sales training may not be integrated at all or only to a small extent. This makes the sales training function one of the last major training areas to remain somewhat separate from the organization’s other learning and development professionals.

executive summary

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The sales training function seems to be more isolated from, rather than integrated into, the corporate learning function. Success meeting sales quotas was positively correlated with the degree to which sales training is integrated with the corporate learning function. The more integrated the sales training, the greater the success in meeting sales quotas. Simply put, integration is related to more sales. Based on a survey of more than 500 experts, the ASTD/ Intrepid/i4cp investigation into key trends in sales training contributes much-needed information to the industry’s knowledge of the topic. Improving sales training programs clearly has the potential to contribute to the long-term success of any organization, yet it can be a struggle to maintain a successful sales training program. This research report will equip you with the statistics to inform important sales training decisions, provide you with a background on the current sales training environment, and give you policy recommendations that can get you started on the road to success now.

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| introduction |

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n the current business climate, there is daily pressure to find new ways to generate revenue for your organization. With the global economy in upheaval, rapidly increasing levels of information flowing to both customer and competitor, and the average operational budget being drastically resized to reflect current market dynamics, organizations are forced to find ways to increase sales force effectiveness and address revenue targets. One of the most common questions to rise out of this pressure is, “Do I have the right people?” Or more accurately stated, “Do my people know what they need to know to get their jobs done effectively?” This question is more relevant than ever before because information changes so rapidly today. What people knew five years ago may have little value today. In the midst of this hard look at the relevancy of the sales force’s current level of competence, the topic of sales training emerges. In the ASTD whitepaper How Sales Teams Succeed, Brian Lambert, director of ASTD Sales Training Drivers says, Growth is necessary and urgent in today’s fastpaced, global business world; but sales force training and development has not kept pace with the rapid technological, cultural, economic, and social change that drives multinational business. Although effective sales results are critical to growth, outmoded training and development approaches represent a very real barrier to that growth. Facing the reality of the modern world of professional selling creates the need to reevaluate sales training approaches. Sales training of the future may no longer be about classrooms full of participants anxiously waiting for the next break so they can check on messages from their customers. Virtual classrooms, podcasts, webinars, and online job aids are just a few examples of the how sales training will be delivered in new ways. Many are talking about these changes in the approach to sales training, yet few know how to design sales training in a way that really matters to the critical relationship between their customers and their sales force.

Indeed, with all the potential changes to sales training delivery methods it’s easy to forget about the true needs of the audience. Savvy organizations, led by learning and performance professionals with their sales leader colleagues, have begun to realize the complexity of what sales professionals are expected to know. What was once limited to the seemingly simple topics of selling skills and product knowledge has exploded to include content like market and industry analysis, legal and environmental regulations, performance management, and the inner workings of their own organization’s processes and technology. Method and content are further challenged to integrate with other learning programs, like safety, and other corporate initiatives, like talent management. It quickly becomes more difficult to answer the original question that sales training has long tried to answer: Do salespeople know what they need to know to be able to drive revenue? According to Tim Ohai, president of Growth & Associates, The people responsible for developing their sales forces are struggling with some hard issues. How much training is too much? How much is too little? The margin of error has been reduced to levels that even Six Sigma projects would struggle to maintain. There is a huge need for a simple benchmark, a mark in the sand that defines what’s working, in today’s environment, for companies of all sizes. With these needs in mind, the ASTD/Intrepid/i4cp State of Sales Training Study delves into the current state of sales training. The research study includes benchmark data to provide a broad picture of sales training as well as analyses to provide additional insights. This report will explore the study’s findings in seven key areas: • environment of sales training • focus and delivery methods of sales training • frequency and duration of such training • elements and recipients of selling skills training • degree of integration of sales training into the learning function • expenditures of sales training • sharing of best practices and lessons learned.

introduction

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These seven categories of findings reflect the core aspects of most sales training efforts. The current study explores each of these critical topics in depth, allowing for benchmarking of significant metrics in sales training. The research team intended to quantify the structural, operational, and financial activities typical of most sales training operations in a way that has rarely been attempted in the industry. Equipping client-facing, revenue-generating professionals with the skills they need to help organizations grow

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and excel puts the learning function at the center of this research. Together with the leaders of the sales team, sales training professionals can use the insight gained in this report to begin a proactive dialogue around the critical areas of sales training delivery, sales training content selection, and assessment of sales training results. These conversations will help pave the way for more sales results through learning and development solutions that really matter.


| Section I | Understanding Sales Training Leadership

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o create a clearer picture of the contemporary sales training environment, the research team began by asking the survey participants to indicate who has the primary responsibility for sales training in their organization. Leadership is a key driver of sales training and a closer examination of this driver can inform sales improvement initiatives.

reported that important responsibility rested directly with a sales executive (30.4 percent) or with the CEO (25.5 percent). Another 14.5 percent of respondents assign responsibility for the training and development of sales team members to a learning executive. Far fewer (4.3 percent) place that responsibility with the human resources area. Some place such responsibility in an external sales performance consultant or coach (6.7 percent).

Accountability for Sales Training Accountability for sales training is often entrusted to those on the top executive team, reinforcing its link to bottom-line results. The research team began by asking respondents who has primary responsibility for the training and development of members of the sales team. As figure 1 shows, more than 30 percent of respondents

figure 1 | Who has primary responsibility for the training/development of sales team members in your organization?

Other

4.3% A marketing executive An external sales performance consultant or coach

25.5%

5.1% 6.7% 14.5%

A learning executive

CEO

13.5%

An HR executive

30.4% A sales executive

understanding sales training leadership

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Among mid-sized (100 to 9,999 workers) and large companies (10,000 or more workers), the primary responsibility for sales training/development tends to be held by sales executives, closely followed by learning executives. Roughly half of the survey respondents represented firms with fewer than 100 employees, so it’s not surprising that someone at the top of the organization would be involved in ensuring that the sales team is well prepared to pursue new business and take good care of current customers. In fact, if we look at this data by size of organization, as in figure 2, we find that we can see a clear shift of responsibility to a sales executive or learning executive with a larger organization, matched by the virtual elimination of the CEO’s direct responsibility.

In many organizations, it appears that learning executives are in more of a supporting role in regard to sales training. This tendency is especially apparent among small firms, but it is also observed in larger firms; less than one-third of larger firms place primary responsibility for sales training with a learning executive. This finding prompts an inquiry into how well integrated sales training is into the rest of the learning function. The subject of integration will be addressed in Section V: Integrating Sales Training with the Learning Function.

figure 2 | The employee Primarily responsible for the training/ development of sales team members in your organization broken out by size of organization

CEO

47.6%

4.9% 1.6% 24.7%

A sales executive

39.0%

27.4% 8.4% 5.5% 6.5%

An external sales performance consultant or coach

A learning executive

4.4%

19.5% 32.3%

A marketing executive

4.0% 1.6%

An HR executive

Other

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1.3%

7.9% Firms with fewer than 100 employees Firms with 100 to 9,999 employees

6.7% 9.7%

Firms with 10,000 or more employees

9.7% 16.5%

21.0%


| section ii | Determining the Focus and Delivery Methods of Sales Training

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o achieve a more detailed picture of how sales training hours are being allocated as well as the methods used to deliver it, the research team examined the relative importance organizations place in addressing sales training in terms of the “mix” of five different categories of sales training: selling skills, product training, industry training, company-specific training and sales management. The research team identified these five categories as a comprehensive classification of sales training content, which a panel of industry experts subsequently validated. As a next step, we drilled down to examine the delivery methods used for three of those categories: selling skills, product training, and sales management. These three categories were isolated for examination of delivery methods because the research team hypothesized that they would emerge as critical areas of sales training. The survey data validated our prediction.

Focus of Sales Training Efforts For the State of Sales Training study, we asked respondents to estimate what proportion of their total sales training content is devoted to each of five important categories: • selling skills • product training • industry training • company-specific training • sales management. We found that the category of selling skills usually receives the bulk of attention, averaging more than one-third (34.5 percent) of the annual sales training hours overall. The product training category came next, averaging 28.3 percent of annual sales training hours overall. The proportion of sales training hours devoted to industry training (10.5 percent), company-specific training (12.8 percent), and sales management (13.9 percent) were typically at much lower levels overall.

figure 3 | percentage of annual content hours devoted to specific sales training types, as a percentage of sales training (all respondents) Sales management Selling skills

13.9% Company-specific training

34.5% 12.8%

10.5% Industry training

28.3%

Product training

determining the focus and delivery methods of sales training

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It’s clear that the highest priorities in sales training are teaching employees how to sell and teaching them about what they’re selling. It’s clear that the highest priorities in sales training are teaching employees how to sell and teaching them about what they’re selling. Figure 4 shows how these proportions held relatively stable regardless of the organizational level for which respondents reported. One respondent lamented their company’s inadequate focus on selling skills: “Fifty-five percent of our salespersons cannot identify four or more elements of the sales process; half of sales management thinks sales skills are far less important than product knowledge.” Other respondents seemed to rely on their ability to stay flexible in regard to the type of training they focus on.

One noted, “We adapt our training to the market. For instance, as the need for financing grew in our industry, we added a high level of finance training to our curriculum.” Additional analyses were performed to determine whether the type of industry affects the focus of sales training efforts. Among the specific industries analyzed were financial services/banking, manufacturing, hightechnology/telecom and services. It turned out that both product training and sales management training resulted in some significant differences between industries. The study found that, in the area of product training, the services industry offered significantly less training than either manufacturing or high-technology/telecom (figure 5). Additionally, for sales management training, the manufacturing industry offered significantly less training than the services industry. All other differences between industries were not statistically significant.

Methods of Sales Training Delivery In this section, we examine the most popular methods used to deliver three categories of sales training content: selling skills, product training, and sales management. In most cases, internal, instructor-led classroom training is

figure 4 | The percentage of annual content hours devoted to each type of sales training, as a percentage of all sales training (by the highest organizational level for which respondents were best able to respond to questions)

Responses

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For sales team members who responded by: Organization

Geographic Region

A Territory

A Business Unit

Selling skills

38.4%

35.3%

34.4%

29.9%

Product training

25.3%

30.2%

29.6%

28.0%

Sales management

13.7%

13.2%

15.3%

13.4%

Company-specific training

10.9%

11.5%

11.4%

17.5%

Industry training

11.7%

9.9%

9.3%

11.1%

state of sales training


the vehicle of choice, with on-the-job learning also playing a dominant role. Again, there were some variations in the data based on the level of reporting, but broad patterns were evident. Included in those patterns is a notably modest use of technology, most particularly Web 2.0 technologies such as podcasts, wikis, and social networking, as sales training delivery methods (figure 6). Some respondents noted the importance of using a variety of approaches for delivering training to accommodate different learning styles and preferences. One respondent noted, “The most important aspect is to provide multiple avenues of learning since co-workers learn in different ways.” Providing more than one option for sales team training may also be one way to appeal to members of different generations or cultural backgrounds. Others affirmed the value of learning based on experience, whether it’s from real-life circumstances or simulations. One respondent noted the value of experiential or hands-on learning: “We look for and utilize training that has built-in simulations whether online or in seminars. Experiential learning has the highest payback.” A previous study on sales trainers by ASTD (2007) confirms the popularity of traditional classroom training. The 210

sales trainers and 179 salespeople surveyed agreed that sales training is most frequently conducted in a classroom setting, although coaching through a mentor and one-onone sessions were also noted as widely used methods. Because instructor-led classroom training is still a key sales training vehicle, organizations would do well to examine the competencies and skills required of those who hold such roles. An academic study described in Industrial Marketing Management says that the sales trainer is a “central actor” and one of the key factors that can “influence the effectiveness of training programs.” The case study found that sales trainers actually perform as many as eight different roles, including sales talent developer, sales talent evaluator, sales skills evaluator, and training program designer/implementer, among others. Further, the study determined that there were five competencies (encompassing 18 separate skills) associated with sales trainer positions: business acumen and communication, instructional planning, selling, talent management, and teaching. The study’s authors concluded, “Developing a sales training competency model will help an organization identify skill and performance expectations for new as well as experienced trainers” (Ricks, Jr., et al. 2008).

FIGURE 5 | Training Efforts by Sector Type

Financial/ Banking

Manufacturing

Hi-tech/ Telecom

Services

Selling-skills training

36.9%

34.8%

31.5%

39.6%

Product training

28.7%

33.6%

31.8%

20.4%

Sales management training

10.7%

9.9%

14.3%

18.1%

Company-specific training

13.0%

10.2%

11.8%

11.5%

Industry training

10.7%

11.5%

10.6%

10.5%

determining the focus and delivery methods of sales training

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Despite the popularity of instructor-led sales training, organizations must also remain open to understanding how the evolution of the Internet to Web 2.0 technologies will affect the world of sales. A white paper from consultancy Intrepid Learning Solutions refers to this new realm as “Sales 2.0.” Authors Sharon A. Vipond and Peter T. Dunn (2008) define Sales 2.0 as “the synthesis of new technologies, sales models, processes, and mindsets … [that integrate] the power of Web 2.0 and ‘on-demand’ technologies with proven sales techniques in order to increase sales effectiveness and velocity.” Such changes may well require significant re-training of sales team members and their leaders along with a “radical shift in thinking from the delivery of learning to the enabling of learning.” Some experts are advocating an increase in the use of simulation technology. A Finnish study evaluated workplace learning when simulation-based e-learning was combined with social interaction and blended learning. Nearly 300 salespeople and 37 sales directors participated in the study, which found that most participants reported improved customer service skills. The Journal of Workplace Learning reported, “In addition to the online simulation being an engaging and fun way of learning, the socially situated interaction and blended delivery of the training program encouraged and facilitated discussion and fruitful debates about customer service in the workplace” (Slotte & Herbert, 2008). But deciding whether the most appropriate way to deliver training is through a classroom setting or a distributed or online environment can be a challenge for organizations. When Accenture transformed its enterprise learning operations in 2007, the firm created a decision-making model as a “more effective way to determine when a set of learning objectives called for classroom interaction, versus occasions when electronic delivery was not only less expensive but also resulted in a more effective learning experience.” Two factors—the participants’ need to “interact with content to master it” and their need to interact with “fellow participants to absorb and apply the knowledge content”—drove the decision model. Accenture determined that a classroom experience was more appropriate when participants needed high interaction with both content and people; an electronic delivery method was more effective

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when content interaction was critical, but people interaction was not (White & Olson, 2007).

Delivering Selling Skills Training Helping sales team members to learn selling techniques is a key component of sales training. As indicated in figure 6, study respondents reported that internal, instructorled classroom training is the most popular method of teaching selling skills overall. An average of 27.9 percent of selling skills training is delivered by this method. On-the-job learning is the second most popular method, accounting for an average of 17.6 percent of the delivery of selling skills training overall. Coaching/mentoring and external, instructor-led classroom training are also relatively popular, with 12.9 percent respectively. Technology is not extensively used as a delivery method, with less than 20 percent of the learning delivered using technology, regardless of the content area (see figure 6). Used noticeably less often (only 3.6 percent) are such delivery methods as Web 2.0 technologies (defined in the survey as podcasts, wikis, social networking) and instructor-led online training. An average of 7.3 percent even said that sales team members have to learn selling skills on their own because no formal training is provided. Additional analyses were performed to determine whether the size of an organization had an effect on the manner in which selling skills training is delivered (figure 7). Only one type of delivery method—online, self-paced—was found to be significantly different depending on organization size. Statistically significant differences were found between small firms (fewer than 100 employees) and large firms (10,000 or more employees) and between mid-sized firms (100 to 9,999 employees) and large firms. It turns out that online, self-paced methods are used significantly more often in larger organizations, potentially due to either greater investment at the corporate level in the infrastructure necessary for effective e-learning or the likely geographic dispersion of their sales force.

Delivering Product Training Ensuring that sales team members thoroughly understand the products, services, and solutions they are selling


FIGURE 6 | USAGE OF DELIVERY MEDIA BY SALES TRAINING CONTENT 27.9% 28.6%

Instructor-led classroom (internal)

21.5% 17.6% 18.3% 17.0%

On-the-job

7.0%

Online (self-paced)

6.5% 8.9% 4.9%

Manual self-paced materials

6.2% 8.2% 5.6%

All tech-based training

All instructorled training

14.0%

7.3% 9.4% 14.0%

Do it on their own

Other

Sales management training

12.9% 10.7% 17.2%

Coaching/mentoring

Web 2.0 technologies

Product training

12.9%

Instructor-led classroom (external)

Online (instructor-led)

Selling skills training

3.6% 4.7% 2.9% 3.6% 3.3% 2.6% 1.3% 0.4% 0.7%

13.7% 16.9% 10.4% 44.4% 40.3% 38.4%

determining the focus and delivery methods of sales training

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(collectively called “product training” in this report) is another key component of sales training. When it comes to teaching product training to the sales team, respondents overall indicated that internal, instructor-led classroom training is again the most popular method. An average of 28.6 percent of product training content is delivered by this method. On-the-job learning again ranked second, which accounted for an average of 18.3 percent of the delivery of product training. Coaching/mentoring (10.7 percent) is also a fairly popular method of teaching product training, and again Web 2.0 technologies are low on the list (3.3 percent). Sales team members are likely to have to attain product training on their own; an average of 9.4 percent of respondents overall said that no formal product training is provided (figure 6). Because sales team members spend much of their time in the field and may be spread over a large geographic area,

“a blended learning initiative that reaches a sales force in the field, but also takes the time to bring the employees in for interactive, face-to-face training” is most effective (Wickman, 2008). As an example, the sales training practices of international office furniture manufacturer Steelcase were examined. With a complex solution set, Steelcase recognized four levels of learning about its products and determined the appropriate way to provide training at each level: • Level 1: Awareness: Sales team member learns that a product has changed. A letter or email is sufficient. • Level 2: Knowledge: Sales team member must be able to discuss basic features. A blend of email and distance learning is appropriate. • Level 3: Understanding: Sales team member must be able to relate the product to the customer’s needs. A classroom setting that allows the student to practice performance is most effective.

FIGURE 7 | how Selling-Skills Training is Delivered By Workforce Size

Fewer than 100

100-9,999

10,000 plus

Instructor-led classroom (internal training)

27.3%

28.4%

28.1%

On-the-job

15.9%

19.9%

19.0%

Instructor-led classroom (external course)

15.0%

11.8%

9.5%

Coaching/mentoring

14.5%

11.9%

10.9%

Manual, self-paced materials

7.5%

4.7%

5.7%

Online (self-paced)

5.6%

4.6%

12.8%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

4.4%

2.6%

3.4%

Sales team members must do it on their own (formal sales training is not provided)

6.0%

9.5%

7.0%

Online (instructor-led)

2.8%

5.1%

3.3%

Other

1.4%

1.6%

0.3%

All instructor-led training

45.2%

45.2%

40.9%

All tech-based training

12.9%

12.3%

19.5%

employees

18

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state of sales training

employees

employees


•L  evel 4: Skill: Sales team member perfects their learning in the real world. Coaching and mentoring in a true sales situation, with a sales manager observing and giving immediate feedback, is the preferred training delivery method (Wickman, 2008).

Delivering Sales Management Training The research team also asked survey participants about the delivery methods used for training sales team members in sales management techniques. Once again, internal, instructor-led classroom training is the most popular method of teaching sales management skills, according to overall respondents who said that an average of 21.5 percent of sales management skills content is delivered by this method. Coaching/mentoring (17.2 percent of sales management skills content) and on-the-job learning (17.0 percent) are also quite popular. Nearly as large a proportion of content (14.0 percent) is said to be up to the sales team members to learn on their own, as formal sales management training is not provided, and another 14.0 percent of sales management training content is delivered via instructors in external courses. Such technology-based delivery methods as instructor-led online training (2.9 percent) and Web 2.0 technologies (2.6 percent) are, again, used less frequently (figure 6). The findings related to sales training content mix and delivery indicate organizations have a varied approach. Each of the five core categories of sales training content accounted for a meaningful share of the annual learning hours offered, but selling skills and product training received the most attention. These results suggest that when an organization is determining the right mix of sales training content, there is a need for a broad-based approach. However, selling skills and product training might need to be treated as fundamental content areas that warrant continual emphasis.

Technology-based delivery methods might be a convenient and cost-effective alternative, but the data indicates that the human touch is essential with the delivery of sales training. Examination of the survey responses for delivery of selling skills, product, and sales management training also revealed variability in the selection of methods, but reliance on traditional methods was consistent across each area. Instructor-led classroom sessions from internal experts were the most popular delivery method for each content area, accounting for roughly one-fourth of delivery. On-the-job training and coaching/mentoring also emerged as important delivery methods for all three content areas. Although the majority of responding organizations utilized Internet-based delivery methods and other technology-enhanced approaches, these modalities only accounted for a small share of the delivery of each content area. Technology-based delivery methods might be a convenient and cost-effective alternative, but the data indicates that the human touch is essential with the delivery of sales training.

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| section iii | Discovering the Frequency and Duration of Sales Training

M

any organizations struggle with the timing of sales training—both how frequently it is offered and how long each employee should spend on it. The employees responsible for sales training program administration are faced with myriad questions: Should my company address sales training only at the time of hire? Or should we provide it annually, quarterly, or even more frequently? And do some areas of sales training require more time for training than others? The research team wanted to find the answers to these questions in order to provide a set of guidelines for determining the plan for sales training delivery, as well as for managing the expectations for staff and organizational leaders.

Frequency The study inquired about the frequency of sales training provided for each of the five core content areas. As figure 8 shows, the survey results revealed an interesting picture. Companies most frequently provide product training to their sales team members, with 30.6 percent of respondents saying such training is provided quarterly and another 30.0 percent saying it is provided even more

often than quarterly. This is likely due to the fact that many companies are constantly putting new or modified products and solutions into the marketplace and that this requires relatively frequent training periods. Some other types of training are more likely to be provided only annually, including company-specific training (27.0 percent), industry training (26.9 percent), and selling skills (26.4 percent). But the study also uncovered an area of concern. The training most often “missing in action� is sales management training, with 22.2 percent of respondents saying that it is provided less than annually and another 20.9 percent saying that it is never addressed (figure 8). Further, an additional analysis suggests that organizations may not be conducting their sales management training with a frequency that optimizes sales performance. The research team found that the more frequently sales management training is expected of sales team members, the more likely the study participants were to report higher levels of sales performance in their areas. In no other type of sales training was there a significant positive correlation between frequency of training and sales performance.

FIGURE 8 | How frequently is training expected of a sales team member in each of the five following areas?

Responses

Never

At time of hire only

Less frequently than annually

Annually

Quarterly

More often than quarterly

Selling skills

7.3%

8.3%

18.4%

26.4%

18.4%

21.3%

Product training

4.6%

8.5%

9.1%

17.3%

30.6%

30.0%

Industry training

11.5%

8.9%

20.3%

26.9%

19.7%

12.8%

Company-specific training

7.8%

16.9%

15.3%

27.0%

17.9%

15.3%

Sales management training

20.9%

5.1%

22.2%

21.9%

17.7%

12.2%

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Companies can miss opportunities here by failing to train sales managers or future sales managers frequently enough. If salespeople are rarely receiving sales management training, then there may be missed opportunities to develop a succession pipeline. Such sales management training could include distance coaching, talent management, time management, business trends and other topics, and might well become part of a regular developmental regimen for those who are in sales management or who aspire to that position. A 2007 survey from the research firm CSO Insights offers some encouragement to those who favor an increasing emphasis on sales management training. Four in 10 respondents in 2007 said they planned to increase or significantly increase the amount of sales management training being conducted, compared with one-third who answered similarly in the previous year’s survey (Dickie & Trailer, 2007). Some study respondents indicated that sales training in general should be delivered with greater frequency rather than relying on sporadic but intense training. One noted, “Consistent small training events tend to lead to

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State Of SaleS training

better retention for the sales organization. All day or multiple day events held on an infrequent basis [seem] to lend [themselves] to lower rates of retention.” Another pointed to the benefits associated with continuous learning, advocating “continuous development on a regular basis forever.”

Duration In a previous study, ASTD (2007) found that 63 percent of salespeople overall received seven days or less of training annually, 18 percent received eight to 15 days, 8 percent received 16 to 24 days and 7 percent received 25 or more days of annual training. (Three percent did not know.) We decided to go into more detail with the current survey, which polled respondents on the average annual days of overall sales training provided to each sales team member. To gain some perspective on the continuing emphasis of such training over the tenure of a sales team member, the study asked for annual days of training in three intervals: for first-year sales professionals, third-year sales professionals, and tenth-year sales professionals.


Clearly, first-year sales team members get the bulk of attention, with 26.8 percent of respondents saying that those in their first year with the firm average more than 20 days of overall sales training per sales team member. The volume of training drops dramatically after that; more than one-third (35.0 percent) of respondents said that third-year sales professionals average zero to four days of training annually, while 38.6 percent of respondents said tenth-year sales professionals average zero to four days annually as well (figure 9). It should be noted that some respondents were unsure of how much training sales professionals at various levels of tenure receive annually.

first year with an organization. An article in Training & Coaching Today warns that “training is finite and has a shelf life.” Individuals have different sales capabilities, so a “one-size-fits-all approach” may not be the most effective way to reach tenured sales team members. Russell Ward, sales director at training firm Silent Edge, advises organizations should take a more individualized approach in which sales team members are assessed and groups of 10 to 12 participants with similar needs are assembled. Assessments can include listening to the way calls are handled and observing sales visits in the field. The firm uses a process that provides four days of developmental training administered over a three-month span (Damon, 2007).

These results suggest that veteran sales professionals may be getting short-changed in terms of the amount of training they’re receiving. In fact, the importance of continuing training for sales team members during their first few years of service is supported by a further correlation analysis. It found that the more days of training provided to third-year sales professionals, the more likely respondents were to report higher sales performance in their areas.

Both anecdotal evidence and data from the current survey strongly suggest that overlooking the sales training needs of veteran professionals can negatively impact performance. And we also observed that a noticeable percentage of sales professionals from all experience levels participate in only a small amount of learning events each year. Minimal participation in sales training may therefore be holding back many sales professionals, even those with extensive experience.

Other sources also indicate that there are good reasons for continuing sales training beyond a sales professional’s

FIGURE 9 | Percentage of respondents saying their sales professionals spend these periods of time in sales training 39% 35% 0-4 days 27%

26%

28%

5-10 days

22% 16%

11-20 days

21%

More than 20 days

16% 13% 9%

First-year sales professionals

Third-year sales professionals

9%

Tenth-year sales professionals

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| section iv | Appreciating the Importance of Selling Skills Training

T

oday’s sales trainers are now more focused on “softer,” more people-oriented selling skills—that is, consultative skills, listening skills, and relationship building skills—rather than the “hard-sell” persuasion and negotiation skills traditionally associated with sales professionals. About six in 10 survey respondents said that their selling skills training includes consultative-selling skills (60.5 percent), listening (59.8 percent) and relationship building (58.7 percent) to a high or very high extent (figure 10). The broader literature supports the emphasis on consultative-selling skills. For example, a research paper cited in the Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing (Pelham, 2006, p. 187) notes that such skills may well enhance a sales force’s capacities to “diagnose and solve problems; advise clients on the best use of the product; understand the financial importance of customer retention; and listen closely to the needs of clients and feed these back to the marketing and technical people.” Author Alfred Pelham of the College of New Jersey writes that “consultative sellers add value to the buyer-seller relationship” and that “consulting-orientated sales training could potentially provide a firm with sustainable competitive advantage.” Pelham further states that research finds the more emphasis placed on such training, the higher the profit growth is for selling firms.

Identifying the Most Common Elements of Selling skills Training The State of Sales Training study also shows that about half or more of respondents say their organizations include training (to a high or very high extent) in approaches that get sales team members more involved with customers, such as adapting the sales process to specific buying processes (55.2 percent) and problem solving and diagnosis (49.0 percent). As we will discuss later, these are two of the elements of selling skills most highly correlated to sales performance. And, of course, standard sales techniques such as closing skills (47.7 percent) and prospecting approaches (45.6 percent) are provided to a high or very high extent (figure 10).

About two-fifths of respondents said that ethical decision making is not among the topics included in their selling skills training at all or is only addressed to a small extent. From another viewpoint, one-third or more of respondents indicated that persuasion (35.1 percent) and negotiating (33.2 percent) are either not included in their selling skills training at all or only included to a small extent (see table 25 in Appendix). This suggests that stereotypes of salespersons as “smooth talkers” whose job it is to convince customers of their need for the product are probably outdated. Perhaps more surprising was the discovery that 41.6 percent of respondents said that ethical decision making is not among the topics included in their selling skills training at all or is only addressed to a small extent (see table 25 in Appendix). In a comprehensive study published by the American Management Association (2006) and i4cp (then the Human Resource Institute), the importance of including ethics in employee training came through loud and clear. Ethics training for all employees was considered an important internal practice for ensuring an ethical corporate culture, averaging nearly a four on a five-point Likert scale of importance and making it the second-most important program supporting an ethical culture, right behind having a corporate code of conduct. What’s more, organizations considered the protection of brand/reputation and customer trust/loyalty among the top reasons for running their businesses in an ethical manner. Since sales team members tend to have direct communication with prospects and customers, the inclusion of ethical decision-making in selling skills training may well be a worthy endeavor.

appreciating the importance of selling skills training

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25


The study points to a need to clarify what new competencies are appropriate for sales team members of the future. Figure 10 shows the extent to which various elements are currently included within sales-skills training.

Linking Selling Skills Training to Sales Success In addition to determining the most popular elements included in training on selling skills, the study also included a correlation analysis to see which of these variables were

most strongly related to higher sales performance in the sales reporting area. Although the differences in the correlations were very small, the strongest correlation was connected to presentation skills, and three other elements shared the second-strongest correlation: problem solving and diagnosis, adapting the sales process to specific buying processes and listening skills. Additional elements strongly correlated to sales performance include creativity in the sales process and relationship building.

FIGURE 10 | Please indicate the extent to which each of the following elements Is currently included in training on selling skills Responses

Percent choosing high or very high extent

Consulting selling skills

60.5%

n.s.

Listening

59.8%

.17**

Relationship building

58.7%

.16**

Adapting the sales process to specific buying processes

55.2%

.17**

Problem solving and diagnosis

49.0%

.17**

Closing skills

47.7%

.13*

Prospecting approaches

45.6%

.15**

Company-specific sales process skills

44.7%

.12*

Follow-up skills

42.4%

.13*

Creativity in the sales process

40.1%

.16**

Empathy

40.0%

.12*

Presentation skills

39.0%

.19**

Ethical decision making

38.6%

.13**

Persuasion

33.8%

.13*

Negotiating

33.1%

.14**

*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed) **Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed) n.s. = not significantly correlated

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correlation with sales performance

state of sales training


The idea that presentation skills is most strongly associated with sales performance might be intuitively obvious yet disappointing to some sales team members, especially if their focus has been on developing strong customer relationships with a single key contact. But these days more and more constituents can be involved in a buying decision, and sales team members may find themselves creating and delivering formal sales presentations to a wider audience than they’ve been accustomed to in the past. Therefore, selling skills training might do well to increase an emphasis on developing and practicing such presentation skills, as only 39 percent of the study’s participants include this training to a high or very high extent. E-learning expert Jay Cross (2007), author of Informal Learning, says, “Giving presentations can make or break your reputation,” and he warns, “Poor presentations suffocate good ideas.” Video feedback can be an effective tool for building one’s presentation skills. Among Cross’ suggestions for learning such skills are to focus on telling stories rather than following the text of a series of PowerPoint slides and to “practice, practice, dry run, practice, revise, practice, edit, practice.” The value of focusing on problem solving and problem diagnosis may also be an important insight. A study published in Harvard Business Review concluded that there often appears to be a disconnect between what customers want in a salesperson and what vendors recruit for. Partners Philip Kreindler and Gopal Rajguru (2006) of Infoteam Sales Process Consulting in Zurich, Switzerland, interviewed 120 sales leaders and 200 customers of vendor organizations to compare customers’ expectations to vendors’ beliefs and practices. The findings show that customers tend to value subject matter and solution expertise above all other attributes, with an understanding of the customer’s business and industry placing second. In fact, 39 percent of customers were dissatisfied with salespeople’s knowledge of the customer’s business and industry. Vendors in that study, however, thought customers sought professionalism as the top attribute of salespeople, and only 25 percent actually evaluated potential salespeople for customer industry knowledge.

Likewise, the State of Sales Training finding that adapting the sales process to specific buying processes is associated with higher sales performance serves as a useful reminder that customer knowledge and flexibility are important tools for sales team members. In fact, Booz & Company says that firms should address the “needs disconnect” (customer insight) and the “organizational disconnect” (internal processes) if they want to optimize customer service. The two disconnects became apparent to the consulting firm after it analyzed results from previous surveys that asked customers what they most valued (it was speed in customer service) and what companies thought customers most valued (they believed it was personalized service). Booz recommends an “outside-in, inside-out” approach to creating a successful sales experience. First, identify the various customer-need segments from the outside in. These may include how the customer intends to use the product or service and what the preferred delivery channels are. Then, identify what the company does well and develop the customer experience from the inside out, placing priority on high-value customers and meeting needs that call for the firm’s operational strengths so that complexity and costs can be reduced (Hoying, Jain, & Mukerji-Miller, 2008). Reflecting creativity in the sales process, another effective element of selling skills training, becomes even more important in tough economic times. The 2007 Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices Study discusses some of the more creative ways in which “winning” sales organizations are responding to the need for price concessions. For example, companies may request payment in advance, extend contracts for longer periods of time, stock more items on shelf space or reduce previously provided services. Such creative processes ensure that companies get something of value in return for their discounting (Miller Heiman, 2007).

appreciating the importance of selling skills training

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27


A large proportion of respondents said that selling skills are learned to a high or very high extent through trial and error. Observation and asking other sales peers are also popular methods of learning selling skills. A previous ASTD survey, conducted in 2007, corroborates the importance of relationship building and listening to the customer. Respondents noted that asking effective or productive questions of customers, becoming a better listener, and selling with the customer’s best interest in mind were the top three skills that sales team members needed to be successful (ASTD, 2008a). When examining those survey results, it became clear that both trainers and salespeople agreed on the importance of listening skills for both new hires and experienced salespeople (ASTD, 2007).

Identifying How Sales Teams Learn Selling Skills Sharing tips with one another plays an important role in learning selling skills, as does trial-by-fire, according to respondents to the study. More than half of those surveyed (53.9 percent) answered that to a high or very high extent they learn selling skills by being formally mentored or coached.

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state of sales training

This usage of mentors can start early in the tenure of a new hire. As one respondent noted, “Each new sales hire is assigned a peer mentor from the sales team to assist in the on-boarding process. A specific schedule of learning is laid out to achieve familiarity with process within a specific time frame.” Another wrote, “We follow each learning event with coaching/mentoring to help the individual integrate the newly learned skills.” A large proportion of respondents also said that selling skills are learned to a high or very high extent through trial and error (47.5 percent). Observation (42.4 percent) and asking other sales peers (41.5 percent) are also popular methods of learning selling skills (figure 11). These relationship-based and immersion approaches are understandably popular, yet respondents are less likely to consider leveraging technology to share their knowledge about selling skills techniques. More than six in 10 respondents (61.6 percent) said that sales team members do not learn selling skills through Web 2.0 tools at all (30.1 percent) or only to a small extent (31.5 percent). Such tools include bulletin boards, wikis, portals and other similar vehicles to facilitate knowledge-sharing, especially across borders. Likewise, 58 percent of respondents said selling skills are either not learned at all (29.0 percent) or only to a small extent (29.0 percent) by using a technology platform. This could present a golden opportunity for companies to take better advantage of technology to share knowledge among sales team members, as long as the technology is able to help in the highly interactive person-to-person selling environment. And as other professions experiment with distance coaching, simulations, situational vignettes, or other approaches that capitalize on available technology, perhaps the learning of selling skills will adopt such methods as well. Figure 11 shows the extent to which respondents said that sales team members are learning selling skills through a variety of means.


Additional analyses were performed to determine if respondents’ views about learning differed depending on their organizational role. Of the 11 different learning methods, only two were significantly different depending on the respondent’s role. Specifically, our analysis showed that respondents with a sales focus were significantly more likely than other respondents to report that sales team members learn more by reading and were significantly less likely to report that they learn by attending classes created within the organization. Meanwhile, respondents with a learning focus were more likely to report that sales team members learn (to a greater extent) by attending classes.

This finding may be a cause of concern for learning professionals. It suggests that while they believe classes add value, this opinion is not as widely shared by sales team members. Learning professionals might benefit from exploring this apparent skepticism about classes and trying to determine the underlying causes by pursuing certain questions: Can reading be done faster than taking a class? Is reading simply associated with greater scheduling flexibility?

FIGURE 11 | In your opinion, to what extent do the following characteristics describe how your sales team members learn selling skills? (percentage endorsed to a high or very high extent)

By being formally mentored/coached

53.9%

Through trial and error

47.5%

By observing

42.4%

By asking other sales peers

41.5%

By attending a class we create internally

33.3%

By attending a vendor’s course (off-site)

20.6%

By attending networking events By reading By attending a conference

18.5% 16.8% 13.3%

Through Web 2.0 tools (bulletin boards, wikis, portals)

10.3%

By using a technology platform

10.2%

appreciating the importance of selling skills training

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29


Sales-focused respondents were more likely to report that the sales team learns more by reading than by attending classes. Learningfocused respondents were likely to report that the sales team learns more by attending classes. This finding may be a cause of concern for learning professionals; they believe classes add value, but sales team members don’t share this opinion. Additionally, sales training may not take into account individual needs and previous experience. Self-directed learning approaches may help allow individuals to identify skills they would like to improve, and work on them at their own pace. Though self directed learning can be employed throughout the organization, research has found that it may be most useful for salespeople, who play an important role in the overall success of the organization and make many job-related decisions on their own (e.g., probing the customer for information, quality of customer contact, amount of attention the customer needs) (Lambert & Boyer, 2008). It is also quite possible that sales team members and sales managers are acutely aware of the value of the learner’s

30

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state of sales training

time and seek methods that significantly reduce the amount of time the learner is taken out of the selling environment. The value of reading about professional selling is documented in a previous ASTD survey as well. Sales trainers themselves consider reading a book on sales or sales-related content as the best way to obtain new sales training resources, according to 69 percent of the 210 sales trainers surveyed in a study conducted by ASTD (2007). The broader literature provides support for classroom, mentoring, and technology approaches. Tom McCarthy (2008), an expert in both the hospitality sector and the consulting industry, dispels at least one myth about sales training when he notes that job shadowing, although a preferred learning method for new salespeople, “lacks the structure successful sales training provides.” McCarthy recommends that new salespeople first take part in formal training and then shadow the best salespeople. This consecutive approach gives the new salesperson “a solid foundation on which to build,” says McCarthy.

Expanding Sales-Skills Training Beyond the Sales Team At times, employees beyond the direct sales team might benefit from learning some selling skills. After all, the opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell to a customer is present in many circumstances not directly related to the initial sale. More people can be involved in the sales process due to the complexity of the products and services being sold. As a result, employees beyond the direct sales team might benefit from training in selling skills. However, it doesn’t seem that such a broadened approach is used very often. The study asked respondents about the extent of selling skills training provided to support personnel, service personnel, and non-sales managers. Respondents indicated that service workers are the most likely of the three groups to receive selling skills training. Still, only 18.1 percent said that group receives such training to a high or very high extent. Just 11.4 percent said support employees receive selling skills training to that extent. The group most likely to be snubbed completely is other non-sales managers, with 21.5 percent of respondents


saying that group does not receive selling skills training at all. Yet an analysis found that the greater extent to which non-sales managers received training on selling skills, the more likely respondents were to report their own sales performance was higher. Considering the importance of a companywide customer focus, perhaps expanding selling skills learning opportunities beyond the sales team could bring handsome payoffs. Some respondents definitely are widening access to sales training. One said, “All people that have customer contact must understand the entire selling process and their role in developing satisfied customers. All those who are not facing customers must be trained that their work impacts the selling process.” Another used their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to ferret out an appropriate audience, saying their CRM “indicates how much time is used on different stages of sales process and this has helped

us a lot on providing [the] right training to [the] right users. Before we were just giving [the] same courses and packages for everyone.” Still another explained, “Everyone sells in our company; everyone learns.” Figure 12 shows to what extent employees other than sales team members are provided with selling skills training. Apparently the need for sales training does not extend to other functional areas. Low percentages of respondents reported a high or very high need for sales training among service and support personnel, as well as non-sales managers. These results suggest that sales training can be customized to sales professionals with little concern about its application to other audiences. However, if your organization has a need to develop “up-selling” skills for non-sales staff with regular customer contact, there might be an opportunity for delivery of sales training to this audience.

FIGURE 12 | To what extent is training on selling skills provided to each of the following audiences outside of sales?

16% Service personnel

18% Not at all

15%

Support personnel 11%

High to very high extent

22%

Other nonsales managers 11%

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| section v | Integrating Sales Training with the Learning Function Earlier in this report, we noted that in larger companies sales executives tend to have primary responsibility for the training and development of sales team members. This finding raises the question of how well the sales training function is integrated into the rest of the learning function. The study found that, for those who integrate their sales training function into the corporate learning function, content strategy (35.3 percent) and delivery (32.6 percent) are the functions most likely to be included to a high or very high extent (figure 13). But the design of learning, the training of staff, and budgeting are areas that are least likely to be integrated to any serious extent. At least one respondent recognized the importance of such integration, writing, “Training cannot be in a vacuum … it must be integrated to be relevant.” Other respondents weren’t sure about the degree of integration of sales training. An analysis correlating the integration of various components of sales training with improved sales performance found that all five components had a significant positive

correlation between integration with corporate learning and higher sales performance. The highest correlation is for the integration of personnel/training staff. Following closely is the integration of learning delivery and learning design. The integration of content strategy and budget with corporate learning was also positively correlated to higher sales performance, but to a lesser extent.

Degree of Integration Regarding the integration of sales training delivery, the previous ASTD (2007) study noted that 43 percent of salespeople and 59 percent of sales trainers surveyed said the proportion of sales training conducted internally by the sales staff was greater than half. Such training was far less likely to be conducted internally by HR or externally by an outside vendor. (84 percent of salespeople and 86 percent of sales trainers surveyed said HR conducted less than one-quarter of sales training. 59 percent of salespeople and 78 percent of sales trainers said vendors conducted less than one-quarter of sales training.)

FIGURE 13 | To what extent is your sales training integrated with your corporate learning function in each of the following areas?

Responses

Don’t

Not at all

Small

extent

Moderate

Designing learning

10.5%

17.0%

Delivering learning

9.1%

Budget

Correlation

extent

High

extent

Very high extent

with sales performance

22.2%

23.5%

17.3%

9.5%

.15**

15.6%

17.9%

24.8%

20.9%

11.7%

.16**

9.2%

17.8%

19.4%

22.4%

21.1%

10.2%

.11*

10.8%

17.0%

19.9%

22.9%

19.0%

10.5%

.17**

Content strategy

9.8%

13.7%

18.6%

22.6%

23.2%

12.1%

.12*

Other processes

48.8%

15.9%

13.2%

13.2%

5.1%

3.7%

n.s.

Personnel/ training staff

know

*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed) **Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed) n.s. = not significantly correlated

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33


Budget and Expenditures Until recently, there was evidence that, overall, sales training had been receiving a larger proportion of organizations’ total learning content, but it’s unclear if that emphasis translates to its share of the training budget. ASTD’s 2008 State of the Industry Report asked respondents about the percentage of their organizations’ total learning content that was devoted to sales content, just as ASTD had done in previous years’ iterations of their survey. It found that sales content was beginning to receive a larger share of attention. In 2002, sales training accounted for only 4.00 percent of total learning content; by 2004, it had grown to 5.67 percent, and in 2006, sales accounted for 6.32 percent of total learning content. In its most recent study, that proportion was a more modest 5.42 percent in 2007 (ASTD, 2008b).

The current study also asked respondents to indicate their direct expenditures on sales training (in U.S. dollars). Figure 14 shows their responses by the highest level for which respondents felt they could confidently answer and by the size of the organization. Of course, the largest organizations spend more on sales training than midsized and small organizations. Readers should be careful about drawing too many conclusions from the data on an organization-wide and a geographic basis because the organization-wide category includes data from all sizes of companies, including small ones.

FIGURE 14 | What is your annual budget for sales training? Average direct

Responses

expenditure on sales training in U.S. dollars

By the highest level for which respondents felt they could confidently answer Organization-wide

$1,800,000

Geographic region

$2,100,000

A territory

$56,000

Business unit

$49,000

By size of organization Fewer than 100 employees

34

|

$164,410

100 to 9,999 employees

$2,602,800

More than 10,000 employees

$4,123,600

state of sales training


There’s some question about whether spending levels are sufficient to meet the needs of salespeople. The earlier ASTD study (2007) found that internal sales trainers estimated the average expenditure per salesperson to be $2,757, and external sales trainers estimated the average expenditure per salesperson to be $1,709. Still, 78 percent of salespeople surveyed said they spent up to $1,000 of their own money in any given year to cover sales training/ professional development. Another survey, this one from consulting firm CSO Insights, looked at expenditures in terms of annual investment in training per salesperson (Dickie & Trailer, 2007). Just 13.4 percent of respondents to that survey invested less than $500 annually in such training; 26.3 percent invested between $500-1,500; 25.1 percent invested $1,501-2,500; 16.3 percent invested $2,501-5,000; 13.7 percent invested more than $5,000 annually; 5.2 percent said they did not do training. Of course, the decision to allocate more (or less) dollars to sales training is one that must be made in a larger light. Sales managers may use “a common metric— profit” to evaluate whether investments in productivity improvements might be better placed in enhancing the size of the sales force, realigning territories, changing the allocation of a sales team member’s effort across customers and products, or providing more training. In assessing such investment questions within the pharmaceutical industry, their case study found “the highest improvements result from improving allocation, followed by improving selling skills through training, whereas more effort, a larger sales force size, and better territories have only minor influences on profitability (Skiera & Albers, 2008). Any decision on allocation of funds for sales training will be heavily scrutinized. However, both past research and data from the current study suggest that there is a “sweet spot” for expenditure on sales training. It is likely that very low spending will not be adequate for such complex content, while the majority of organizations are hesitant to spend more than a few thousand dollars per employee because it may not be accepted by upper management.

integrating SaleS training with the learning functiOn

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| section vi | Sharing Knowledge on Sales Training Efforts The ASTD/Intrepid/i4cp State of Sales Training study gave participants an opportunity to share their “best practices” and “lessons learned,” and dozens of respondents took advantage. The sharing of best practices and lessons learned can be a great benefit to organizations when it’s done internally, and a 2007 survey from CSO Insights suggested that such sharing doesn’t occur often enough. That survey found that half of responding organizations reported their ability to share best practices across the sales force needs improvement, and only 10 percent said their ability exceeds expectations in such knowledge-sharing. That study further noted, “When asked specifically about the ability to share best practices, only 14 percent of the needs improvement group reported such practices were easily accessed; the same response from the exceeds expectations group was 51 percent” (Dickie & Trailer, 2007, pp. 132-133). In the spirit of such knowledge-sharing, following is a brief description of some of the ideas shared by the respondents to the study.

Best Practices Of the 531 survey participants, nearly 120 of them responded to an open-ended question on sales training best practices. Four noteworthy themes emerged.

Be dedicated to customers’ challenges, needs, and preferences. Time and again, participants reiterated the view that the most successful sales outcomes are rooted in an intimate understanding of customers’ challenges, needs, and preferences. For training purposes, that emphasis translates to relationship building: “understanding client’s challenges [and] priorities and providing solutions that fit the culture of the organization, not just training on sales skills and product skills.” Another respondent added, “People buy from people they like. Therefore, I spend an inordinate [amount of] time on professional attitudes. The relationship is everything. Most ‘selling’ is accomplished without ever discussing product. People want to buy. They don’t need to be sold.”

Encourage team members to teach each other. Sales teams sometimes take a teach-their-own tack, sharing their daily experiences about what worked and what didn’t. Some also mentioned strategies such as the shadowing of more experienced peers or managers, reviews of case studies, role-playing scenarios, and sharing new knowledge gained from outside sources. As one respondent described it, sales team members who attend seminars “are required to return to the office with a presentation of the most salient points from the event and teach it to the rest of the group.” Another respondent described a more radical approach incorporating simulations: We “want to take sales people out of [their] comfort zone and set challenges like selling as a street vendor, for example.” Helping each other learn also underlies the coaching and mentoring efforts that multiple respondents said their firms utilize. Some companies tap their managers for coaching duties, while others rely on sales team veterans to deliver on-the-job training and coach their less experienced peers. One survey participant explained that each salesperson in their organization alternates responsibility for giving a monthly presentation on selling skills to other team members.

Set the right goals. “Setting the right goals is a major key for success,” declared one respondent. That sentiment was echoed by others, some of whom noted specific sales process components, such as new contact quotas, follow-up procedures, and proposal ratios. Others commented more generally on such factors as the need to fully understand organizational sales challenges as a precursor to setting learning goals.

Emphasize the importance of continuous learning. Many of the respondents noted the importance of continuous learning. In some cases, sales professionals are encouraged to incorporate learning approaches such as training CDs, online learning tools, reviews of RSS feeds, and organizational knowledge management systems.

sharing knowledge on sales training efforts

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37


Lessons Learned

Get leaders involved.

Additionally, more than 110 people responded to an open-ended survey question asking them to share lessons they’ve learned through real-world sales training experiences. Again, common themes became apparent.

Training “does not stick unless managers are fully trained and support it,” one survey participant said, while another commented, “Top management buy-in is not enough—participation is essential.” Putting an exclamation point on the leadership-support angle, while also speaking to organizational culture, a respondent had this parting observation: “Creating a whole company learning environment is far more important than training the sales department. If the execs ain’t in the game, the game is over.”

Accurately gauge competencies and then train accordingly. “Always focus on the specific needs and skills gaps of each individual sales person in the group,” advised one respondent. Another cautioned, “Analyze carefully before implementing. Don’t go by ‘gut feeling.’” Observed another, “People have to walk away from training with skill that helps fill their immediate skills gap and concerns. Participants like to be prepared with a skill necessary to meet future challenges before they appear.”

Be consistent with sales training and follow through on promises. “Results take time,” said one survey participant, “and the skills presented don’t take hold overnight or even after one training session. We often repeat topics several times.” “Ongoing follow-up, coaching and reinforcement after the training [are needed],” said another, while a third echoed, “You cannot do it just once. It is an ongoing process. Top producers still need training.”

Use properly credentialed trainers. Survey participants pointed out the importance of properly credentialed trainers. One respondent declared, “Effective sales training belongs in the hands of qualified professionals that apply rigorous learning process discipline and metrics.” Another added, “Many sales trainers have not successfully sold themselves, so it’s difficult to add their experience to any sales training they do.”

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state of sales training


| conclusion and policy recommendations |

This study shows the landscape of sales training in today’s workplace. But more importantly, it provides a glimpse of where organizations might be missing opportunities to bring their sales training programs to a higher level of expertise and ultimately increasing an organization’s bottom line. Key takeaways from the study: •F  ocus the content delivery “mix” on five key areas—selling skills training, product training, sales management, company-specific training, and industry training. •A  dapt the mix of selling skills training to emphasize those skills most closely related to sales performance—presentation skills, listening, adapting the sales process, problem solving and diagnosis, relationship building, and creativity in the sales process. • I ncorporate technology into sales training delivery where appropriate to save resources and to make training more accessible. • Support and encourage self-directed learning approaches. • Include training on ethical decision making. Consider delivering a greater amount of training through those methods most preferred by sales team members: mentoring/coaching, trial and error (perhaps through the use of simulations and role play), observation, and discussion with peers. These approaches could be integrated into the existing learning programs or provided independently, as appropriate. • Invest more in sales management training given its strong return-on-investment and its connection to sales performance. • Integrate sales training into the learning function to improve sales performance.

To make better use of insights in this study, consider asking your organization these thought-provoking questions: • Is the low use of technology for sales training, and particularly Web 2.0 technologies, a missed opportunity to better use technology for knowledge sharing? • I s your organization missing an opportunity to involve other key personnel in learning upselling skills? • Could your organization leverage coaching more effectively—particularly to teach selling skills and product training? After all, it’s noted as the number one way sales team members learn. • Should your organization increase the proportion of training committed to sales management, considering its importance to sales success and succession planning? • What is your company doing to accommodate different learning styles? Should you consider using more blended learning approaches—including Webinars, e-learning, and field-based coaching? • Should your organization further integrate the sales and learning functions? • Does your organization need to provide additional training opportunities for more experienced sales people? What are the most effective modalities for such opportunities? • What content is the most important to teach salespeople, and how frequently should your organization teach it to support the competencies emerging from the market conditions, customer expectations, and shifts in industry? Given the prime role that sales figures play in a company’s competitive standing, investments in learning and development for sales team members are investments well worth making. Sales training can help your organization understand where it already excels and where it can improve so that it can be poised to meet the challenges of today’s economic environment.

conclusion and policy recommendations

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| references |

American Management Association/Human Resource Institute. (2006). The Ethical Enterprise: Doing the Right Things in the Right Ways, Today and Tomorrow. Available at http://www.amanet.org/press/ amanews/2006/HRIEthics.htm

McCarthy, T. (2008, January). Quality Sales Training Counts. Lodging Hospitality, 34.

American Society for Training & Development. (2008a, April). Selling with Competence: How Sales Teams Succeed White Paper. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

Ohai, Tim. (2009). Unpublished interview.

American Society for Training & Development. (2008b). State of the Industry Report 2008. Alexandria, VA: ASTD. American Society for Training & Development. (2007). ASTD 2007 Sales Trainer Survey results. Unpublished raw data. Boyer, S. and Lambert, B. (2008, November). Take the Handcuffs off the Sales Team with Self-Directed Learning. T+D, 62-66. Cross, J. (2007). Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance. San Francisco: Pfeiffer. Damon, N. (2007, November/December). Born to Sell? Training & Coaching Today, 7-8.

Miller Heiman. (2007). 2007 Sales Best Practices Study. Reno, Nevada: Miller Heiman.

Pelham, A. (2006). Do Consulting-Oriented Sales Management Programs Impact Salesforce Performance and Profit? Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 21, no. 3, 177-188. Ricks, Jr., J.M., Williams, J.A., and Weeks, W.A. (2008). Sales Trainer Roles, Competencies, Skills, and Behaviors: A Case Study. Industrial Marketing Management, vol. 37, no. 6, 593-609. Skiera, B. and Albers, S. (2008, Spring). Prioritizing Sales Force Decision Areas for Productivity Improvements Using a Core Sales Response Function. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, vol. 28, no. 2, 145-154. Slotte, V. and Herbert, A. (2008). Engaging Workers in Simulation-Based E-learning. Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 20, no. 3, 165-180.

Dickie, J. and Trailer, B. (2007). Sales Performance Optimization: 2007 Survey Results and Analysis. CSO Insights.

Vipond, S.A. and Dunn, P.T. (2008, August). Sales 2.0: Exploring Paradigm Shifts in Web Technologies, Sales Performance, and Learning. Seattle: Intrepid Learning Solutions.

Hoying, T., Jain, A., and Mukerji-Miller, M. (2008, Summer). A Better Customer Service Connection. strategy+business, 8-10.

White, A. and Olson, K. (2007, April). Return on Learning, Part 7: Running Learning like a Business. Available at www.accenture.com.

Kreindler, P., & Rajguru, G. (2006, April). What B2B Customers Really Expect. Harvard Business Review, 22-24.

Wickman, L.E. (2008, April). Best Methods for ProductBased Training. Chief Learning Officer, 32-36.

Lambert, B. (2008, April). Is Your Sales Team Stuck in the 1890s? T+D, 42-47.

references

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| appendix | State of Sales Training Study Overview Survey Process Target Survey Population The target survey population of the State of Sales Training study consisted of industry contacts from ASTD, the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), and Selling Power. In total, 531 people responded to the survey. Respondents were primarily in sales management positions (33 percent), sales training positions (19 percent), and sales professional positions (16 percent). Numerous sectors of the economy were represented in this survey, with services (17 percent), high-tech/ telecom (16 percent), and financial services/banking (11 percent) being the most common. Fifty percent of responding organizations reported that their companies currently employ fewer than 100 workers, while 29 percent of organizations reported having 1,000 or more employees.

Survey Instrument In this survey, multiple questions used the well-accepted 1-5 Likert-type scale, with a 1 rating generally designated as “not at all” and a 5 rating as “a very high extent.” There were 28 questions in all, including 11 questions geared toward assessing demographic characteristics of respondents. Questions had multiple parts. Two questions were openended, allowing respondents to write in their responses to questions regarding “best practices” and “lessons learned” for their organization’s sales training efforts.

Procedure A link to an online survey was emailed to the target population during July 2008. Surveys were sent to targeted employees within a large sample of corporations via email links from a sophisticated survey application. This method allowed respondents who were the most knowledgeable about the topics we cover to reply. The research team used various data analysis tools, depending on the nature of each question.

Demographic/Company Profile Questions and Results

Table 1: Is your organization a provider of sales training to other organizations? Responses

Overall responses by

Yes

40.8%

No

59.2%

percent

appendix

|

43


Table 2: What is your current title?

Overall

Internal Responses Only (provide sales training to sales staff within their own organization)

training to sales staff in other organizations)

25.1%

10.6%

47.0%

Executive VP/Senior VP

4.2%

4.2%

4.4%

Vice President

9.5%

10.6%

8.2%

Director

18.7%

21.6%

14.2%

Manager

20.9%

28.4%

8.7%

1.8%

2.3%

1.1%

20.0%

22.3%

16.4%

Responses

responses by percent

CEO/President/Chairman

Supervisor Other

External Responses Only (provide sales

Table 3: What statement best describes your role in your organization?

Responses

I am in the learning department and my primary job accountability involves sales training. I am in the learning department and my primary job accountability involves training other than sales. I am a quota-bearing sales professional. I am a non-quota-bearing sales professional. I am in sales management. I am an HR generalist. Other 44

|

state of sales training

Internal Responses Only (provide sales

External Responses Only (provide sales

20.4%

15.8%

27.3%

4.4%

4.5%

3.8%

15.4%

19.6%

8.2%

7.2%

9.4%

4.4%

31.4%

36.6%

25.1%

2.6%

3.0%

1.1%

18.6%

10.9%

30.1%

Overall

responses by percent

training to sales staff within their own organization)

training to sales staff in other organizations)


Table 4: In what region is your organization headquartered? Overall

Responses

results by percent

Internal Responses Only (provide sales training to sales staff within their own organization)

External Responses Only (provide sales training to sales staff in other organizations)

North America

77.8%

80.4%

76.0%

Latin America

1.6%

1.1%

2.7%

Europe

11.0%

9.8%

12.0%

Mideast

1.0%

0.4%

1.6%

Africa

3.3%

2.3%

4.4%

Asia

4.1%

4.9%

2.7%

Oceania/Australia

1.2%

1.1%

0.5%

Table 5: Which type of solutions do you, as a sales team member,

primarily sell?

Internal Responses Only External Responses Only Overall responses (provide sales training to (provide sales training

Responses

by percent

sales staff within their own organization)

to sales staff in other organizations)

Products

32.2%

38.7%

13.4%

Services

67.8%

61.3%

86.6%

Table 6: What is the primary nature of your sales efforts?

Responses

Overall responses by percent

Internal Responses Only External Responses Only (provide sales training (provide sales training to sales staff within their own organization)

to sales staff in other organizations)

Business to business

76.3%

71.8%

87.0%

Business to consumer

20.8%

25.3%

10.1%

2.9%

2.9%

2.9%

Business to government

appendix

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45


Table 7: What is your organization’s type of operation? Overall results by

Responses

percent

Internal Responses Only (provide sales training to sales staff within their own organization)

External Responses Only (provide sales training to sales staff in other organizations)

National

53.6%

52.1%

56.8%

Multinational

22.0%

23.0%

20.8%

Global

24.4%

24.9%

22.4%

Table 8: In what sector does your organization primarily operate?

Responses

to sales staff within their own organization)

to sales staff in other organizations)

4.2%

3.8%

4.4%

Chemicals

0.6%

0.8%

0.0%

Education

5.1%

3.0%

8.3%

Energy/utilities

1.6%

1.5%

1.7%

Entertainment/hospitality

1.0%

1.9%

0.0%

Financial services/banking

11.5%

12.8%

9.9%

Food products

1.8%

1.9%

0.6%

Government

0.4%

0.8%

0.0%

15.8%

17.0%

14.4%

Hospital/health care/insurance

3.3%

4.5%

1.1%

Manufacturing

9.6%

8.7%

9.9%

Mining or agriculture

0.4%

0.4%

0.6%

Nonprofit

1.5%

1.5%

1.7%

Pharma/biotech/medical device

3.5%

2.6%

5.1%

Retail

2.7%

3.4%

2.2%

16.8%

16.2%

19.3%

1.8%

2.3%

1.1%

17.9%

17.0%

19.9%

Services Transportation Other

|

results by percent

Internal Responses Only External Responses Only (provide sales training (provide sales training

Consumer goods

Hi-tech/telecom

46

Overall

state of sales training


Table 9: When compared with the past five years, how would you rate your company’s performance now? (Overall Responses by Percent) Responses

N/A

All- time

Worse

Same

Better

All- time

Revenue growth

6.0%

2.4%

11.3%

28.3%

37.0%

15.0%

Market share

6.3%

2.0%

5.8%

37.3%

38.9%

9.7%

Profitability

5.2%

2.0%

9.8%

33.6%

40.0%

9.4%

Customer satisfaction

3.8%

0.2%

2.7%

41.1%

39.5%

12.7%

low

high

Table 9a: When compared with the past five years, how would you rate your company’s Responses Only by Percent (provide sales training to sales staff within their own organization)

performance now? Internal

N/A

All- time

Worse

Same

Better

All- time

Revenue growth

6.1%

3.4%

11.0%

28.5%

38.0%

12.9%

Market share

5.4%

1.5%

5.4%

37.1%

42.5%

8.1%

Profitability

5.8%

1.5%

9.7%

35.1%

41.3%

6.6%

Customer satisfaction

4.6%

0.4%

4.2%

43.1%

39.6%

8.1%

Responses

low

high

appendix

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47


Table 9b: When compared with the past five years, how would you rate your company’s performance now? External Responses Only by Percent (provide sales training to sales staff in other organizations) Responses

N/A

All- time

Worse

Same

Better

All- time

Revenue growth

6.0%

1.1%

12.1%

28.0%

35.2%

17.6%

Market share

7.8%

2.8%

6.7%

37.4%

33.0%

12.3%

Profitability

4.4%

2.8%

10.5%

31.5%

37.6%

13.3%

Customer satisfaction

2.8%

0.0%

0.6%

37.0%

40.3%

19.3%

low

high

Table 10: Identify the highest organizational level for which you are best able to respond to questions about your organization’s internal sales training practices. Responses

Organization-wide (training of entire sales team)

Geographic region (training of all sales team members in a relatively large area, like Europe or the Western U.S.)

48

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Overall results by percent

61.4%

9.6%

A territory (training of all sales team members in a smaller area, like a city or state)

10.9%

Business unit (training of sales team members for a specific business unit or other narrow segment of the organization)

18.1%

state of sales training


Table 11: What is the size of your workforce? Responses

Overall results

Fewer than 100 employees

49.8%

100-499

14.3%

500-999

6.9%

1,000-3,499

7.9%

3,500-4,999

3.1%

5,000-9,999

3.9%

10,000-24,999

3.3%

25,000-49,999

2.0%

50,000-99,999

3.7%

More than 100,000

4.7%

by percent

Table 12: In U.S. dollars, what is your organization’s total revenue? Responses

Overall results by percent

Less than $10 million

44.6%

$10 to $24 million

10.3%

$25 to $49.9 million

6.7%

$50 to $99.9 million

3.2%

$100 to $249 million

6.1%

$250 to $499 million

4.6%

$500 to $999 million

4.6%

$1 billion to $2.99 billion

5.7%

$3 billion to $9.99 billion

5.4%

$10 billion or more

8.4%

appendix

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49


Table 13: In the past year, my sales performance was: For sales team members whose responsibility is: OrganizationGeographic A territory A business unit

Responses

wide

region

75% of quota or less

19.3%

7.7%

13.6%

18.7%

76% to 100% of quota

39.4%

41.0%

15.9%

38.7%

101% to 125% of quota

28.2%

30.8%

52.3%

29.3%

126% to 150% of quota

7.0%

20.5%

2.3%

12.0%

151% to 200% of quota

3.5%

0.0%

6.8%

0.0%

More than 200% of quota

2.7%

0.0%

9.1%

1.3%

Table 14: In the year before last, my sales performance was: Responses

50

|

For sales team members whose responsibility is: OrganizationGeographic A territory A business unit wide

region

75% of quota or less

23.3%

10.5%

16.3%

20.0%

76% to 100% of quota

38.4%

34.2%

23.3%

26.7%

101% to 125% of quota

30.2%

47.4%

46.5%

42.7%

126% to 150% of quota

4.3%

5.3%

9.3%

9.3%

151% to 200% of quota

1.9%

2.6%

2.3%

1.3%

More than 200% of quota

1.9%

0.0%

2.3%

0.0%

state of sales training


Selected Sales Learning Questions and Results Table 15: Training Efforts by Sector Type Comparison of sales training content areas by industry sector reveals some minor differences. The services industry emphasized selling skills more than other industries, with 39.6 percent of sales training devoted to this area. Not surprisingly, respondents from manufacturers had the highest scores for product training, at 33.6 percent, while respondents from service organizations had the lowest at 20.4 percent. In contrast, the service industry had the highest ranking for sales management training at 18.1 percent, while manufacturers had the lowest ranking at 9.9 percent. The scores for industry and company-specific training content distribution did not vary much as a function of industry.

Training Efforts by Sector Type Financial/ Banking

Manufacturing

Hi-tech/ Telecom

Services

Selling skills training

36.9%

34.8%

31.5%

39.6%

Product training

28.7%

33.6%

31.8%

20.4%

Industry training

10.7%

11.5%

10.6%

10.5%

Company-specific training

13.0%

10.2%

11.8%

11.5%

Sales management training

10.7%

9.9%

14.3%

18.1%

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|

51


Table 16: Usage of Delivery Media by Sales Training Content Area The findings related to sales training content mix and delivery indicate organizations have a varied approach. Examination of the survey responses for delivery of selling skills, product, and sales management training revealed variability in the selection of methods, but reliance on traditional methods was consistent across each area. Instructor-led classroom sessions from internal experts was the most popular delivery method for each content area, accounting for roughly one-fourth of delivery. On-thejob training and coaching/mentoring also emerged as important delivery methods for all three content areas. Although the majority of responding organizations utilized Internet-based delivery methods and other technology-enhanced approaches, these modalities only accounted for a small share of the delivery of each content area.

Usage of Delivery Media by Sales Training Content Area

52

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Selling

Product

Management

Instructor-led classroom (internal)

27.9%

28.6%

21.5%

On-the-job

17.6%

18.3%

17.0%

Instructor-led classroom (external)

12.9%

7.0%

14.0%

Coaching/mentoring

12.9%

10.7%

17.2%

Do it on their own

7.3%

9.4%

14.0%

Online (self-paced)

6.5%

8.9%

4.9%

Manual self-paced materials

6.2%

8.2%

5.6%

Online (instructor-led)

3.6%

4.7%

2.9%

Web 2.0 tech

3.6%

3.3%

2.6%

Other

1.3%

0.4%

0.7%

All instructor-led training

44.4%

40.3%

38.4%

All tech-based training

13.7%

16.9%

10.4%

state of sales training


Table 17: Selling Skills Training Delivery Methods used by Workforce Size Additional analyses were performed to determine whether the size of an organization had an effect on the manner in which selling skills training is delivered. Only one type of delivery method—online, self-paced—was found to be significantly different depending on organization size. Statistically significant differences were found between small firms (fewer than 100 employees) and large firms (10,000 or more employees) and between mid-sized firms (100 to 9,999 employees) and large firms. It turns out that online, self-paced methods are used significantly more often in larger organizations.

Selling Skills Training Delivery Methods used by Workforce Size Fewer than 100 employees

100-9,999 employees

10,000 plus employees

Instructor-led classroom (internal training)

27.3%

28.4%

28.1%

Instructor-led classroom (external course)

15.0%

11.8%

9.5%

Online (instructor-led)

2.8%

5.1%

3.3%

Online (self-paced)

5.6%

4.6%

12.8%

Manual, self-paced materials

7.5%

4.7%

5.7%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

4.4%

2.6%

3.4%

On-the-job

15.9%

19.9%

19.0%

Coaching/mentoring

14.5%

11.9%

10.9%

Sales team members must do it on their own (formal sales training is not provided)

6.0%

9.5%

7.0%

Other

1.4%

1.6%

0.3%

All instructor-led training

45.2%

45.2%

40.9%

All tech-based training

12.9%

12.3%

19.5%

appendix

|

53


Table 18: Who has primary responsibility for the

training/development of sales team members in your organization?

Overall Responses by Percent

Responses CEO

25.5%

A sales executive

30.4%

A marketing executive

5.1%

An HR executive

4.3%

A learning executive

14.5%

An external sales performance consultant or coach

6.7%

Other

13.5%

Table 19: Primary responsibility for the training/development of sales team members in your organization, by size of organization Firms with fewer than 100 employees

Firms with 100 to 9,999

CEO

47.6%

4.9%

1.6%

A sales executive

24.7%

39.0%

27.4%

A marketing executive

4.0%

7.9%

1.6%

An HR executive

1.3%

6.7%

9.7%

A learning executive

4.4%

19.5%

32.3%

An external sales performance consultant or coach

8.4%

5.5%

6.5%

Other

9.7%

16.5%

21.0%

Responses

54

|

state of sales training

employees

Firms with 10,000 or more employees


Table 20: For each of the following types of sales training in your organization, please indicate the percentage of annual content hours devoted to each, as a percentage of sales training. For sales team members whose responsibility is: Responses

All Respondents

Organizationwide

Geographic Region

A Territory

A Business Unit

Selling skills

38.4%

35.3%

34.4%

29.9%

36.3%

Product training

25.3%

30.2%

29.6%

28.0%

26.6%

Industry training

11.7%

9.9%

9.3%

11.1%

11.2%

Company-specific training

10.9%

11.5%

11.4%

17.5%

12.1%

Sales management

13.7%

13.2%

15.3%

13.4%

13.8%

appendix

|

55


Table 21: Please specify the percentage of sales training learning content that Selling Skills.

is formally delivered by each of the following means in your organization:

Responses for Selling Skills

56

|

For sales team members whose responsibility is: All Organization- Geographic A A Business Respondents Region Unit wide Territory

Instructor-led classroom (internal training)

29.7%

35.4%

19.8%

22.9%

28.0%

Instructor-led classroom (external course)

14.4%

8.5%

12.1%

10.0%

12.9%

Online (instructor-led)

3.6%

4.9%

2.4%

3.8%

3.6%

Online (self-paced)

5.9%

6.6%

6.7%

9.2%

6.6%

Manual, self-paced materials

6.7%

4.0%

3.8%

7.1%

6.2%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

4.1%

2.6%

2.9%

2.8%

3.6%

On-the-job

16.1%

20.9%

22.8%

19.1%

17.7%

Coaching/mentoring

13.7%

12.8%

14.7%

9.1%

13.0%

Sales team members must do it on their own (formal sales training is not provided)

5.5%

3.3%

12.2%

13.8%

7.3%

Other

0.8%

1.1%

2.6%

2.4%

1.2%

state of sales training


Table 22: Please specify the percentage of sales training learning content that is Product Training.

formally delivered by each of the following means in your organization:

Responses for Product Training

For sales team members whose responsibility is: Organization- Geographic A Territory A Business Region Unit wide

All Respondents

Instructor-led classroom (internal training)

29.1%

33.6%

24.0%

27.8%

28.7%

Instructor-led classroom (external course)

6.8%

6.2%

11.0%

6.0%

7.1%

Online (instructor-led)

5.2%

10.7%

0.5%

2.9%

4.7%

Online (self-paced)

8.8%

8.0%

7.5%

11.0%

8.9%

Manual, self-paced materials

8.5%

4.4%

7.9%

8.4%

8.1%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

3.9%

3.3%

3.1%

1.5%

3.3%

On-the-job

17.2%

17.6%

21.5%

22.1%

18.5%

Coaching/mentoring

12.3%

10.9%

9.6%

6.0%

10.8%

Sales team members must do it on their own (formal sales training is not provided)

8.1%

5.4%

14.3%

13.5%

9.4%

Other

0.3%

0.0%

0.7%

0.7%

0.4%

appendix

|

57


Table 23: Please specify the percentage of sales training learning content that is formally Sales Management Training.

delivered by each of the following means in your organization:

Responses for Sales Management Training Instructor-led classroom (internal training)

21.4%

18.4%

17.8%

23.7%

21.2%

Instructor-led classroom (external course)

14.2%

20.0%

11.6%

13.6%

14.2%

Online (instructor-led)

3.4%

0.9%

0.6%

2.1%

2.8%

Online (self-paced)

4.1%

7.2%

6.0%

7.1%

4.9%

Manual, self-paced materials

6.2%

3.8%

5.3%

3.2%

5.5%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

3.2%

0.0%

1.3%

1.1%

2.5%

On-the-job

16.6%

25.3%

15.7%

16.6%

17.0%

Coaching/mentoring

18.3%

14.4%

14.3%

14.6%

17.1%

Sales team members must do it on their own (formal sales training is not provided)

12.5%

10.0%

27.0%

15.2%

14.2%

0.3%

0.0%

0.4%

2.8%

0.7%

Other

58

|

For sales team members whose responsibility is: All Organization- Geographic A Territory A Business Respondents Region Unit wide

state of sales training


Table 24: How many average annual days of overall sales training are provided per sales team member in each of the following categories? 7-10

11-15

16-20

More than 20 days

7.4%

18.2%

12.1%

9.9%

26.8%

19.9%

16.4%

11.3%

8.7%

6.8%

9.3%

19.0%

10.9%

9.7%

8.4%

4.5%

9.0%

Responses

Don’t

First-year sales professionals

9.9%

6.4%

9.3%

Third-year sales professionals*

12.5%

15.1%

Tenth-year sales professionals

19.0%

19.6%

know

0-2 days 3-4 days 5-6 days

days

days

days

*There was a significant positive correlation (r=.12, p<.05) between the number of days that third-year sales professionals receive sales training and reported sales performance in terms of ability to meet sales quotas.

appendix

|

59


Table 25: Please indicate the extent to which each of the following elements is currently included in training on selling skills. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t

Not at all

Small extent

Moderate extent

High extent

Very high

Ethical decision making

5.0%

19.1%

22.5%

14.8%

20.1%

18.5%

Problem solving and diagnosis

3.7%

4.0%

19.8%

23.5%

30.9%

18.1%

Creativity in the sales process

2.7%

8.0%

19.4%

29.8%

28.1%

12.0%

Adapting the sales process to specific buying processes

3.0%

4.7%

17.4%

19.7%

30.4%

24.8%

Persuasion

3.7%

12.0%

23.1%

27.4%

22.1%

11.7%

Listening

2.7%

3.0%

12.8%

21.6%

28.4%

31.4%

Empathy

3.4%

10.1%

21.5%

25.2%

23.2%

16.8%

Closing skills

2.7%

6.1%

18.6%

25.0%

26.7%

21.0%

Prospecting approaches

3.0%

6.4%

20.8%

24.2%

28.5%

17.1%

Follow-up skills

4.0%

5.7%

16.5%

31.3%

26.6%

15.8%

Company-specific sales process skills

3.7%

6.0%

18.8%

26.9%

26.9%

17.8%

Negotiating

4.4%

9.5%

23.7%

29.4%

22.3%

10.8%

Relationship building

3.4%

5.0%

12.1%

20.8%

28.5%

30.2%

Presentation skills

2.7%

8.8%

20.0%

29.5%

24.4%

14.6%

Consultative selling skills

3.0%

6.8%

9.8%

19.9%

26.4%

34.1%

Responses

60

|

state of sales training

know

extent


Table 26: In your opinion, to what extent do the following characteristics describe how sales team members learn selling skills? Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t

Not at all

Small extent

Moderate extent

High extent

Very high

By reading

5.5%

6.2%

40.9%

30.6%

13.4%

3.4%

By attending networking events

6.2%

8.9%

40.4%

26.0%

14.7%

3.8%

By observing

3.4%

2.0%

15.3%

37.0%

33.6%

8.8%

Through trial and error

2.7%

3.1%

16.6%

30.2%

30.9%

16.6%

By attending a class we create internally

3.1%

12.9%

19.7%

31.0%

24.8%

8.5%

By attending a vendorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s course (off-site)

4.8%

19.0%

30.5%

25.1%

14.2%

6.4%

By using a technology platform

5.1%

29.0%

29.0%

26.6%

6.8%

3.4%

By being formally mentored/coached

3.7%

8.1%

13.6%

20.7%

28.5%

25.4%

By attending a conference

3.1%

19.5%

36.5%

27.7%

12.3%

1.0%

By asking other sales peers

2.4%

5.4%

18.4%

32.3%

30.6%

10.9%

Through Web 2.0 tools (bulletin boards, wikis, portals)

9.9%

30.1%

31.5%

18.2%

8.6%

1.7%

Responses

know

extent

appendix

|

61


Table 27: To what extent is training on selling skills provided to each of the following audiences outside of sales? Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t

Not at all

Small extent

Support personnel

6.0%

15.4%

37.3%

29.9%

8.4%

3.0%

Service personnel

6.7%

16.1%

34.5%

24.8%

14.1%

4.0%

Other non-sales managers*

9.1%

21.5%

34.2%

24.2%

8.7%

2.4%

Responses

know

Moderate High extent extent

Very high extent

*There was a significant positive correlation (r=.13, p<.05) between the extent to which training on selling skills is provided to other non-sales managers and reported sales performance in terms of ability to meet sales quotas.

62

|

state of sales training


Selected Sales Training Questions: Results by Type of Training Provided (Internal sales training provided vs. External Sales Training Provided)

Table 28: Percentage of Content hours dedicated to Type of Sales Training by Reporting Unit Organization (n = 109)

Geographic Region (n = 24)

Territory (n = 25)

Business Unit (n = 45)

Selling skills

31.2%

31.4%

32.5%

28.2%

Product training

31.1%

35.2%

30.8%

30.1%

Industry training

11.5%

9.3%

8.7%

12.4%

Company-specific training

14.1%

11.5%

13.3%

18.0%

Sales management

12.2%

12.6%

14.7%

11.3%

Organization (n = 112)

Geographic Region (n = 5)

Territory (n = 10)

Business Unit (n = 11)

Selling skills

45.4%

46.0%

35.0%

37.7%

Product training

19.4%

14.0%

28.5%

16.8%

Industry training

12.0%

12.0%

11.2%

5.9%

Company-specific training

7.9%

8.0%

7.3%

16.4%

Sales management

15.3%

20.0%

18.0%

23.2%

Internal Responses Only

External Responses Only

appendix

|

63


Table 29: Please specify the percentage of sales training learning content (selling skills) that is formally delivered by each of the following means in your organization. Organization (n = 103)

Geographic Region (n = 22)

Territory (n = 21)

Business Unit (n = 44)

Instructor-led classroom (internal training)

25.4%

31.5%

20.3%

20.1%

Instructor-led classroom (external course)

10.2%

9.2%

2.6%

10.7%

Online (instructor-led)

4.1%

5.3%

2.1%

3.3%

Online (self-paced)

7.2%

8.5%

8.6%

9.5%

Manual self-paced materials

6.4%

4.6%

5.0%

6.9%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

4.5%

3.2%

3.3%

2.9%

On-the-job

20.5%

20.7%

28.4%

20.0%

Coaching/mentoring

13.7%

12.7%

16.0%

9.3%

Sales team members must do it on their own

7.4%

3.0%

11.3%

16.7%

Other

0.5%

1.4%

2.4%

0.7%

External Responses Only Selling skills

Organization (n = 109)

Geographic Region*

Territory (n = 11)

Business Unit (n = 10)

Instructor-led classroom (internal training)

32.5%

N/A

20.5%

36.5%

Instructor-led classroom (external course)

18.6%

N/A

31.4%

8.0%

Online (instructor-led)

3.2%

N/A

3.2%

6.5%

Online (self-paced)

4.8%

N/A

3.6%

7.5%

Manual self-paced materials

7.1%

N/A

1.9%

5.5%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

3.8%

N/A

2.6%

2.5%

On-the-job

12.2%

N/A

12.4%

12.0%

Coaching/mentoring

13.9%

N/A

11.8%

9.0%

Sales team members must do it on their own

3.7%

N/A

9.6%

2.5%

Other

1.0%

N/A

3.2%

10.0%

Internal Responses Only Selling skills

*Insufficient sample size for breakout. 64

|

state of sales training


Table 30: Please specify the percentage of sales training learning content (product training) that is formally delivered by each of the following means in your organization. Internal Responses Only Organization (n= 93)

Geographic Region (n = 19)

Territory (n = 19)

Business Unit (n = 42)

Instructor led classroom (internal training)

27.1%

35.8%

27.4%

25.6%

Instructor led classroom (external course)

2.2%

2.6%

5.0%

6.9%

Online (instructor-led)

4.6%

9.2%

0.8%

2.7%

Online (self-paced)

11.3%

8.4%

11.8%

11.7%

Manual self-paced materials

10.0%

4.7%

9.2%

5.8%

3.2%

3.9%

3.2%

1.7%

On-the-job

18.1%

17.6%

22.4%

23.3%

Coaching/mentoring

12.6%

12.1%

11.2%

6.3%

Sales team members must do it on their own

10.7%

5.5%

8.8%

15.1%

0.2%

0.0%

0.3%

0.8%

Product Training

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

Other

External Responses Only Product Training

Organization (n = 88)

Geographic Region*

Territory (n = 10)

Business Unit (n = 5)

Instructor led classroom (internal training)

30.6%

N/A

20.0%

50.0%

Instructor led classroom (external course)

11.8%

N/A

23.5%

0.0%

Online (instructor-led)

5.7%

N/A

0.0%

3.0%

Online (self-paced)

5.7%

N/A

0.1%

7.0%

Manual self-paced materials

7.2%

N/A

6.2%

31.0%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

4.6%

N/A

3.2%

0.0%

On-the-job

16.4%

N/A

20.0%

6.0%

Coaching/mentoring

12.2%

N/A

5.5%

1.0%

Sales team members must do it on their own

5.3%

N/A

20.0%

2.0%

Other

0.5%

N/A

1.5%

0.0%

*Insufficient sample size for breakout. appendix

|

65


Table 31: Please specify the percentage of sales training learning content (sales management) that is formally delivered by each of the following means in your organization. Internal Responses Only Organization (n = 97)

Geographic Region (n = 13)

Territory (n = 16)

Business Unit (n = 33)

Instructor led classroom (internal training)

15.2%

19.6%

15.9%

18.7%

Instructor led classroom (external course)

10.8%

23.9%

3.1%

13.9%

Online (instructor-led)

4.7%

0.4%

0.6%

2.0%

Online (self-paced)

4.8%

8.9%

8.8%

8.8%

Manual self-paced materials

6.1%

3.1%

6.6%

3.2%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

3.8%

0.0%

1.3%

1.4%

On-the-job

20.0%

23.5%

13.0%

18.0%

Coaching/mentoring

16.8%

15.4%

13.9%

14.7%

Sales team members must do it on their own

17.4%

5.4%

36.9%

18.9%

0.3%

0.0%

0.0%

0.5%

Sales Management

Other

66

|

state of sales training


Table 31: Continued External Responses Only Organization (n = 78)

Geographic Region*

Territory (n = 8)

Business Unit (n = 7)

Instructor led classroom (internal training)

26.6%

N/A

23.8%

36.4%

Instructor led classroom (external course)

17.0%

N/A

30.0%

14.3%

Online (instructor-led)

2.4%

N/A

0.6%

2.9%

Online (self-paced)

3.5%

N/A

1.3%

0.0%

Manual self-paced materials

6.4%

N/A

3.5%

3.6%

Web 2.0 technologies (i.e., podcasts, wikis, social networking)

2.7%

N/A

1.6%

0.0%

On-the-job

14.0%

N/A

20.5%

12.1%

Coaching/mentoring

Sales Management

18.6%

N/A

14.4%

16.4%

Sales team members must do it on their own

8.6%

N/A

3.1%

0.0%

Other

0.3%

N/A

1.3%

14.3%

*Insufficient sample size for breakout.

appendix

|

67


Table 32: How frequently is training expected of a sales team member in each Selling Skills, Product Training, Industry Training, Company-specific training, Sales Management Training

of the five following areas:

Internal Responses Only (n = 174)

|

At time of hire only

Less frequently than annually

Annually

Quarterly

More often than quarterly

Selling skills

9.6%

8.5%

19.2%

28.8%

18.6%

15.3%

Product training

3.4%

7.4%

8.6%

16.6%

29.7%

34.3%

Industry training

12.6%

8.6%

21.7%

28.0%

17.7%

11.4%

Company-specific training

5.7%

17.2%

16.1%

24.1%

19.5%

17.2%

Sales management training

23.4%

6.9%

25.1%

23.4%

15.4%

5.7%

At time of

Less frequently than annually

Annually

Quarterly

More often than quarterly

External Responses Only (n = 125)

68

Never

Never

hire only

Selling skills

3.8%

6.1%

17.6%

23.7%

19.1%

29.8%

Product training

5.6%

9.6%

9.6%

18.4%

32.0%

24.8%

Industry training

9.7%

8.1%

18.5%

25.8%

23.4%

14.5%

Company-specific training

9.4%

16.5%

15.0%

30.7%

15.7%

12.6%

Sales management training

16.3%

2.3%

18.6%

20.2%

20.9%

21.7%

state of sales training


Table 33: How many average annual days of overall sales training are provided per sales team member in each of the following categories? Internal Responses Only (n=164)

Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know

0-2 days 3-4 days 5-6 days

7-10

11-15

16-20

More than 20 days

days

days

days

First-year sales professionals

9.0%

7.3%

9.6%

6.2%

15.8%

13.0%

10.7%

28.2%

Third-year sales professionals

12.5%

17.6%

19.9%

15.9%

10.8%

9.7%

6.8%

6.8%

Tenth-year sales professionals

18.9%

22.3%

19.4%

10.9%

9.7%

8.0%

4.0%

6.9%

7-10

11-15

16-20

More than 20 days

External Responses Only (n=125)

Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know

0-2 days 3-4 days 5-6 days

days

days

days

First-year sales professionals

9.3%

4.7%

8.5%

9.3%

22.5%

10.9%

9.3%

25.6%

Third-year sales professionals

10.9%

11.7%

20.3%

17.2%

12.5%

7.8%

7.0%

12.5%

Tenth-year sales professionals

17.1%

17.1%

19.4%

10.1%

10.1%

9.3%

4.7%

12.4%

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Table 34: Please indicate the extent to which each of the following elements is currently included in training on selling skills. (percentage endorsing to a high or very high extent) Internal (n = 162)

External (n = 125)

Listening

53.6%

69.1%

Relationship building

52.1%

67.7%

Consultative selling skills

51.2%

74.0%

Adapting the sales process to specific buying processes

48.5%

64.8%

Company specific sales process skills

45.5%

43.3%

Closing skills

44.3%

52.8%

Problem solving and diagnosis

41.6%

59.5%

Follow-up skills

39.4%

47.6%

Ethical decision making

38.6%

38.8%

Prospecting approaches

35.7%

58.2%

Creativity in the sales process

35.2%

47.6%

Empathy

33.9%

48.8%

Presentation skills

32.1%

48.0%

Negotiating

29.9%

37.3%

Persuasion

27.9%

42.5%

Responses

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state of sales training


Table 35: Please indicate the extent to which each of the following characteristics describe how sales team members learn selling skills. (percentage endorsing to a high or very high extent) Responses

Internal (n = 163)

External (n = 123)

By being formally mentored/ coached

47.3%

65.4%

Through trial and error

44.9%

50.8%

By asking other sales peers

44.8%

36.8%

By observing

41.2%

44.4%

By attending a class we create internally

32.5%

34.4%

By attending networking events

16.6%

19.5%

By reading

15.6%

17.6%

By attending a vendorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s course (off-site)

12.1%

32.3%

By attending a conference

11.6%

16.1%

By using a technology platform

10.3%

9.8%

Through Web 2.0 tools (bulletin boards, wikis, portals, etc.)

9.2%

11.4%

Table 36: To what extent is training on selling skills provided to each of the following audiences (This would not include product, industry or company-specific training outside of selling skills). (percentage endorsing to a high or very high extent)

outside of sales?

Internal (n = 165)

External (n = 127)

10.9%

27.3%

Other, non-sales managers

6.1%

18.1%

Support personnel

4.8%

19.7%

Responses Service personnel

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Table 37: To what extent is your sales training integrated with your corporate learning

function in each of the following areas? (percentage endorsing to a high or very high extent)

Internal (n = 165)

External (n = 127)

Content strategy

29.4%

44.0%

Budget

26.8%

38.1%

Delivering learning

24.2%

43.7%

Personnel/training staff

23.7%

38.5%

Designing learning

21.4%

33.9%

8.3%

9.2%

Responses

Other processes

Table 38: What is your annual budget for sales training for the following areas? Please enter direct expenditure on sales training in actual U.S dollars. (Average Values Presented)

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Organization

Geographic Region

Territory

Business Unit

Direct Expenditure on Sales Training in U.S. dollars (Internal Responses Only)

885K (n = 61)

2.1M (n = 12)

42K (n = 11)

43K (n = 16)

Direct Expenditure on Sales Training in U.S. dollars (External Responses Only)

2.7M (n = 59)

N/A*

N/A*

N/A*

*Insufficient sample size for breakout.

state of sales training


| about the authors and contributors |

Donna J. Bear is a senior research analyst at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). She has a BS degree in business administration, an MS degree in management, and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). Her previous experience as an HR generalist/consultant spans the Professional Employer Organization (PEO), corporate, and not-for-profit sectors. She is the author of many i4cp reports and newsletters. Contact information: 727.345.2226 or donna.bear@i4cp.com.

Mark Vickers is the vice president of research at

Holly B. Tompson, PhD, is a senior research analyst at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). Holly has taught in the management departments of several universities, including the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, and, most recently, the University of Tampa. Her research has focused on work-life balance and leadership development, with an emphasis on training high-potential employees to sustain maximum success without burnout. Holly is also active in the University of Tampaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Executive Education program, where she is currently a leadership and development coach. Contact information: 813.601.5638 or holly.tompson@i4cp.com.

Andrew Paradise, PhD, is a senior research analyst with the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). He is responsible for a variety of projects such as the annual ASTD State of the Industry Report and ad-hoc surveys. He has authored many reports and research articles for the association on topics ranging from sales training to global leadership. Paradise joined ASTD in September 2006. Prior to that, Paradise worked in the Research Department at the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association in Bethesda, Maryland, for five years. Contact information: 703.683.7267 or aparadise@astd.org.

Carol L. Morrison is a senior research analyst for the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). She has a BS degree in sociology/social work and a BS degree in business administration/marketing. Her career experience spans public, private and nonprofit sectors. She has established and directed a municipal government information department and headed employee communications for national and multinational corporations. She is the author of research reports on subjects ranging from productivity to employee engagement. Contact information: 727.345.2226 or carol.morrison@i4cp.com.

Mike Czarnowsky is director of research with the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). In that capacity, Czarnowsky leads the ASTD Research team in the strategy, planning, and execution of all research studies, the Workplace Learning and Performance Scorecard, and the ASTD Benchmarking Forum. During more than 15 years with ASTD, he has overseen various areas of responsibility, most recently directing the ASTD Benchmarking Forum. Contact information: 703.683.8126 or mczarnowsky@astd.org.

the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). He has authored many reports and white papers for the institute, served as managing editor of the Human Resource Institute, and served as the primary editor and project manager for this report. He is the editor of i4cpâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s TrendWatcher and has authored and coauthored various periodical articles. Contact information: 727.345.2226 or mark.vickers@i4cp.com.

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Jennifer Mosley is currently a research specialist with the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) Research Department. Jennifer joined ASTD in September 2008. Prior to that, Jennifer worked as a Colony Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Her educational background includes an MS in Experimental Psychology from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and a BS in Psychology from the University of Georgia. Contact information: 703.838.5848 or jmosley@astd.org. Brian Lambert, PhD, is the director of ASTDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sales Training Drivers, where he works with internal and external clients and ASTD members to create relevant content, tools, and resources for sales trainers, sales managers, and senior executives. Brian has fifteen years of experience in all aspects of sales, sales management, and sales training.  He is the author of the book World-Class Selling: New Sales Competencies, published by ASTD press. Contact information: 703.683.8159 or blambert@astd.org.

Maureen Soyars is associate editor with the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). Contact information: 703.683.9212 or msoyars@astd.org.

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state of sales training

Kristi King is senior graphic designer with the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). Contact information: 703.683.7253 or kking@astd.org.

Rose McLeod is art director with the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). Contact information: 703.683.8146 or rmcleod@astd.org. Several staff members of the Institute for Corporate Productivity provided background research, writing and other support for this report. Special thanks to Greg Pernula, who worked on the survey implementation, to Mindy Meisterlin, who worked on tables, to Joe Jamrog, who created the graphs, and to Donna Campbell and Ellen Serrano who proofed the report.

ASTD Research determined the initial concept and design of the project, provided technical assistance with the survey instrumentation, conducted supplemental analyses of the survey data, and jointly interpreted the findings. Contact information: 703.683.8100 or ASTDResearch@astd.org.


| about the Contributing Organizations |

The American Society for Training & Development The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) is the world’s largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals. ASTD’s members come from more than 100 countries and connect locally in 136 U.S. chapters and 25 global networks. Members work in thousands of organizations of all sizes, in government, as independent consultants, and suppliers. ASTD started in 1944 when the organization held its first annual conference. ASTD has widened the profession’s focus to link learning and performance to individual and organizational results and is a sought-after voice on critical public policy issues. For more information, visit www.astd.org.

The Institute for Corporate Productivity The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) improves corporate productivity through a combination of research, community, tools, and technology focused on the management of human capital. With more than 100 leading organizations as members, including many of the

best known companies in the world, i4cp draws upon one of the industry’s largest and most experienced research teams and executives-in-residence to produce more than 10,000 pages of rapid, reliable, and respected research annually, surrounding all facets of the management of people in organizations. Additionally, i4cp identifies and analyzes the upcoming major issues and future trends that are expected to influences workforce productivity and provides member clients with tools and technology to execute leading-edge strategies and “next practices” on these issues and trends. For more information, visit www.i4cp.com.

Intrepid Learning Solutions Intrepid Learning Solutions is a dedicated provider of award-winning learning solutions that drive business performance. Founded in 1999, Intrepid offers consulting, technology and managed learning services to companies worldwide. In addition, the company offers packaged holistic learning solutions that can be rapidly tailored to support individual learner preferences and broader business goals. For more information, visit www.intrepidls.com.

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State of Sales Training