Three steps to the right sales training and development partner

When you select a sales training and development provider you need to be sure that you get the results you’re looking for.

Here are three tips to select the right partner.

1. How well do they understand you?

Many training providers focus on their content, not on your purpose. They think about what people will learn not how they will apply it month in, month out on the job to deliver the results you want. It’s important to make sure your supplier really understands the results you want to achieve.

Your industry sector

How specialist are they in your sector or do they bring helpful perspectives from other sectors? Do they have relevant clients and references? How knowledgeably do they discuss the key trends and drivers in your market? Can they talk your industry talk? What insights and observations do they bring? Will their knowledge make them credible to your sales team? If their view on tailoring to your sector is only to add in a case study or two, they may not resonate with your team.

Your sales channels to market

Do they understand the complexities and nuances of selling in your sector? Particularly if you work with a channel or distribution model, do they have experience of training salespeople who work through a reseller channel? How do they achieve success for companies with your go to market model?

Your business goals and challenges?

To what extent are they interested in your bigger picture – the wider priorities and goals that are driving your revenue model? Can they grasp the link between business goals and training needs? How well are they able to analyse the challenges you’re facing and offer their own assessments? How do they map your sales training needs to these wider goals and challenges? What examples of similar work can they offer?

The answers to these areas will tell you how much interest the provider has in aligning to your specific business and your needs versus a more generic approach. You will be able to decide how credible they would be with your sales team and how well they would be able to align to your business.

2. How will they deliver against your needs?

How will they tailor and customise to meet your needs and context?

  • Content: Not just a case of sticking in a sector-relevant case study, but how will they customise their content to match your context?
  • Delivery methods: More is not always more, you don’t necessarily need half a dozen delivery methods but it’s likely you’ll need more than just a classroom workshop. How will the supplier create a learning journey that ensures salespeople are applying what they learn on the job? ‘Blended’ and ‘flipped’ learning are oft-used terms, the point is how will they develop knowledge, skills and attitudes? Considering how and when different elements are delivered is even more critical when you have a geographically spread team who rarely meet.
  • Flexibility for change: No sales team operates in a vacuum. During most sales programmes, things change. How will the supplier adapt to changes in your business?
  • Culture: How well aligned is their approach with your culture and how will they adapt to your business and sales culture?
  • Trainer/ facilitator: Who will deliver the training and what credibility, experience and expertise do they have? How involved are they in the scoping, design and development process? If they are not directly involved in the pre-delivery stages, ask how they will be trained on your specific needs and environment so that they can deliver within your context.

3. How will they measure progress and results?

Most training providers will talk about the Kirkpatrick model of evaluation and then tell you how hard it is to measure all the way to level 4 – that’s business outcomes. They’re right, it can be hard, but that’s not a reason not to measure outcomes. The reality is that most training providers don’t design their training programmes to deliver clear measurable results and so push all the responsibility back onto the client. They stop at measuring behaviour change or possibly performance metrics.

Questions to understand how close the supplier gets to measuring impact include:

  • How do you ensure that salespeople apply what they’ve learned to their accounts and opportunities?
  • How do you reinforce and embed new skills?
  • How do you measure progress and success?
  • What are our respective responsibilities for delivering results?
  • Give me some examples of how you’ve helped other companies deliver results

These last two questions are important because it really is a shared activity. You will need to work internally to embed and reinforce learning. Your sales managers need to proactively coach, mentor and manage. You need to measure change against KPIs. But your training provider should be designing for this and proactively collaborating and supporting you through the journey.

Next steps

Ultimately, asking these questions will help you to find a sales training and development partner that ‘gets you’, that designs a programme that delivers against your specific goals and that takes shared responsibility to help you embed lasting change in your sales organisation.

We take these best practices seriously and work to always understand our clients' goals, deliver against their needs and demonstrate a clear sales growth. Find out more about how we work.

If you'd like a conversation to explore how we can help you, give us a call on +44 (0)1488 638119 or contact us.