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How change can improve sales training pt2


Arron Taylor concludes his feature on how to use these cash-strapped times to your advantage.
The most switched on companies are investing in training and creating strong teams that won't just see them through the slump, but will also carry them into the future.

Now is the time to commit to building a high performing team that will emerge from the current economic climate ready and prepared to dominate in the future opportunistic times. Develop the one element that will set you apart from the competition – your people. Implement the performance improvement plans that will arm your sales team to succeed.
"Salespeople are vital to businesses in every economic climate. Salespeople are the ones who drive a company’s growth, success and profit"

According to Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter of the Harvard Business School "in this tough economic environment, if you wait too long to envision and implement transformational changes, you are out of the game." The organisations that realise this is a time of opportunity, a time to develop a winning team, and a time to get ahead, will thrive in the future.
As the economy ramps back up, so will hiring. You can't afford to lose your top performers to your competitors. Many organisations find it hard enough to recruit great experienced salespeople and when they do find their next superstar, they'll want to try something new. Companies must therefore keep up with training demands if they want to stay competitive.
"Not only does lack of investment signal a disinterest in their employees but it also creates a lack of trust and motivation and, eventually, poor retention."
Industry analysts predict that those companies failing to develop their staff now are going to suffer in the long term. Not only does the lack of investment signal a disinterest in their employees but it also creates a lack of trust and motivation and, eventually, poor retention.
82% of HR managers surveyed said staff development had risen up the priority list in 2011, with 56% considering training and development to be an essential business enabler - Source: Taleo
Investing in your people through development now shows they are a key asset to the company - today and in the future. Personal skill development also gives people direction and focus. This is essential when minds could be wandering due to uncertainty and despair about the future. Training can be a useful and motivating tool to keep sales people charging ahead rather than looming in thoughts of insecurity.
In today's market, customers have the upper hand - with all of the offers of concessions and deals and discounts, salespeople must be able to show customers that not only are their products of value, but as a salesperson, they are a valuable resource as well. Customers want to buy from sales people that are knowledgeable, personable, and aware and in tune to the customer’s needs.
It's not just about maintaining current clients but finding new ones too. If you are going to acquire new clients then business development skills are essential. To do that, though, you really do have to understand a client's issues and offer them solutions. It's all about pulling out all the stops to get the job done.
So what does all this mean for the future? Well, it's a good news story for a change. A new study brings encouraging news that 78% of companies say there will be spending the same, if not more on learning and development initiatives in the next financial year, according to the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management.
Further findings taken from Ken Blanchard Companies' latest annual Corporate Issues Survey stated that respondents expressed less caution in regard to training expenditures in 2011 than they did in 2010, a significantly positive shift.

So how will money be allocated for training be spent? According to the survey the top two management training priorities are managing change and creating an engaged workforce, however interestingly, the area most companies appear to be neglecting is developing future leaders.

While it may seem hard to justify at the moment, investing in training for your sales organisation will prove to be a valuable expenditure when you are taking market share in the new economy. The need to spend conservatively is to be expected, but avoid slashing where it hurts the most. Cutbacks on sales training can prove to be detrimental, especially when the one guaranteed asset you have to rely on during uncertain times is your people and their performance.
"Cutbacks on sales training can prove to be detrimental, especially when the one guaranteed asset you have to rely on during uncertain times is your people and their performance."

Sales training can therefore be one of the fastest, easiest, most effective ways to boost revenue in a down economy. If a business forges ahead and taps into the potential power within their current sales team through the development of selling skills, while the bulk of their competition retreats, they can put themselves in position to upgrade the effectiveness of their sales force and improve relationships with new and embedded customers which ultimately increases revenue.

Establishing a business need for learning and development makes good business sense, so organisational development, creating an overall L&D strategy, and proving a return on investment have become a critical part of the L&D toolkit.

Today may be the perfect time for you to train your sales team. Good sales training, the right sales training, can help tackle the real issues facing your business, increase performance and drive real results.
Arron Taylor is managing partner at Optimality. He has spent the last decade helping hundreds of companies across many diverse markets achieve their optimum performance through people. Arron is an expert in competency assessment, talent acquisition, retention and behavioural training

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