STATE OF SALES TRAINING

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

041021.51110

not surprising in the face-to-face people business of sales training. while industry training. In our study. coaching/mentoring. and sales management. are used far less often than more traditional methods. For example. Product training receives the next largest share. it was clear that more traditional methods continue to trump technology-based methods. Larger companies are most likely to place the primary responsibility for sales training/development with a sales executive or with a learning executive. companyspecific training. wikis. if at all. 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. The study found that online or web-based methods. 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. a goal made more difficult when budget cuts affect the ability to attract top talent. such as podcasts. internal instructor-led classroom training leads as the most popular method of delivering each type of sales training content. An organization’s sales force drives the bottom line—and effective sales training is the bedrock of a successful sales program. In these economically challenging times. These five sales training categories all contribute to success. Other popular approaches are on-thejob learning. 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. This statistic underscores the recognition of many organizations that sales training has a direct impact on the bottom line. but organizations place more emphasis on some of them than they do with others. Sales management training is the category of sales training addressed with the least frequency—less than annually. product training. | 2 STATE OF SALES TRAINING TALENT MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AND OPPORTUNITIES . and sales management training receive shares that are typically at a much lower level overall. selling skills is the most critical type of training. 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. and other technology-based approaches. accounting for more than one-third of the annual sales training hours. The study gives both learning professionals and sales team members cutting-edge ideas for bringing the sales organization to a new level of performance. there is great pressure to achieve revenue forecasts. 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. In each case. and external instructorled classroom training.| EXECUTIVE SUMMARY | In today’s challenging economic environment no company can afford the missed opportunities that stem from an unprepared sales force. In fact.

delivery. and relationship-building skills above all. APPRECIATING THE IMPORTANCE OF SELLING SKILLS TRAINING Today’s selling environment tends to call for “softer. The study also found that few people beyond the sales team receive any training in selling skills. The study suggests that it’s better to learn selling skills by sharing knowledge. industry training. tend to reside within the sales function. and content strategy. Other popular aspects of selling skills training identified in the study include adapting the sales process to specific buying processes. and observation. 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 corporate learning function.” or more people-oriented. This suggests that the traditional profile of salespeople relying primarily on their powers of persuasion may be a relic of the past. and 39 percent of tenth-year sales professionals average zero to four days of sales training. Contemporary sales trainers focus on consultative selling. 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. skills rather than “hard sell” skills. making sales training more isolated from. too. on the other hand. less than annually. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF AN ASTD RESEARCH REPORT CHAPTER | 3 . trial and error. Contemporary sales trainers focus on consultative selling skills. sales training decisions. But the learning design. technologybased learning methods such as online delivery. More than one-third (36 percent) of thirdyear sales professionals average only three to six days of sales training annually. INTEGRATING SALES TRAINING INTO THE LEARNING FUNCTION For most organizations. and prospecting approaches.| FOREWORD | DISCOVERING MORE ABOUT THE FREQUENCY AND DURATION OF SALES TRAINING Of the five types of sales training. is the focus addressed with the least frequency. 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. rather than integrated into. but trial and error works. listening. The volume of training afforded to third-year and tenth-year sales professionals drops dramatically. wikis. staff training.0 tools are seldom used as a route to learning selling skills. such as design. listening skills. and other Web 2. Included among the best ways for sales team members to learn selling skills are formal mentoring/coaching. and selling skills—is more likely to be provided on an annual basis. Sales management training. personnel. It’s possible that this trend reduces sales success. Other training—company-specific training. Those who integrate their sales training into the broader corporate function are most likely to integrate content strategy and the delivery of training. budget. if at all. 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. and budgeting areas of sales training may not be integrated at all or only to a small extent. and relationship-building skills above all. By contrast. closing skills. problem solving/diagnosis.

This research report will equip you with the statistics to inform important sales training decisions.The sales training function seems to be more isolated from. yet it can be a struggle to maintain a successful sales training program. the greater the success in meeting sales quotas. integration is related to more sales. Success meeting sales quotas was positively correlated with the degree to which sales training is integrated with the corporate learning function. the corporate learning function. the ASTD/ Intrepid/i4cp investigation into key trends in sales training contributes much-needed information to the industry’s knowledge of the topic. Based on a survey of more than 500 experts. and give you policy recommendations that can get you started on the road to success now. Improving sales training programs clearly has the potential to contribute to the long-term success of any organization. provide you with a background on the current sales training environment. Simply put. rather than integrated into. The more integrated the sales training. 4 | STATE OF SALES TRAINING .

ASTD’s members come from more than 100 countries and connect locally in 136 U.i4cp. Founded in 1999. visit www. Members work in thousands of organizations of all sizes. In addition.com.| 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. tools. surrounding all facets of the management of people in organizations. 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. chapters and 25 global networks. and technology focused on the management of human capital. INTREPID LEARNING SOLUTIONS Intrepid Learning Solutions is a dedicated provider of award-winning learning solutions that drive business performance. Additionally. For more information. visit www. THE INSTITUTE FOR CORPORATE PRODUCTIVITY The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) improves corporate productivity through a combination of research.S. i4cp identifies and analyzes the upcoming major issues and future trends that are expected to influence workforce productivity and provides member clients with tools and technology to execute leading-edge strategies and “next practices” on these issues and trends.org. ASTD started in 1944 when the organization held its first annual conference. best known companies in the world.astd. and respected research annually.000 pages of rapid. as independent consultants. and suppliers. With more than 100 leading organizations as members. Intrepid offers consulting.intrepidls. For more information. reliable. community. i4cp draws upon one of the industry’s largest and most experienced research teams and executives-in-residence to produce more than 10. the company offers packaged holistic learning solutions that can be rapidly tailored to support individual learner preferences and broader business goals.com. technology and managed learning services to companies worldwide. including many of the EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF AN ASTD RESEARCH REPORT | 5 . For more information. in government. visit www.

com. as well as ASTD Research’s comprehensive benchmarking services. 6 | STATE OF SALES TRAINING .org/research. visit www. without the prior written permission of the publisher. ASTD Research conducts a wide variety of ongoing studies on topics of interest to the learning profession. recording. Recently released studies include: • • • • • • Annual State of the Industry Report Learning’s Role in Employee Engagement Learning’s Role in Globally Dispersed Workforces Tapping the Potential of Informal Learning Talent Management: Practices and Opportunities Executive Development: Strategic and Tactical Approaches • The State of Sales Training For more information about each study.| CONTACT | ASTD Research tracks trends. For permission requests. All rights reserved. contact copyright. ©2008 by the American Society for Training & Development. and connects research to practice in the field of workplace learning and performance. or other electronic or mechanical methods.astd. distributed. No part of this publication may be reproduced. informs decisions. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. including photocopying. or transmitted in any form or by any means.

For more information about this report click here For more information about this report click here TAPPING THE POTENTIAL OF INFORMAL LEARNING helps today’s learning professionals gain insight into how informal learning works and how to improve its effectiveness.8100. Learning’s roLe in gLobaLLy DisperseD Workforces | an asTD research sTuDy | STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL APPROACHES TO EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT is an in-depth look at the executive development practices of today’s organizations. For more information about this report click here For more information about this report click here LEARNING’S ROLE IN GLOBALLY DISPERSED WORKFORCES identifies the many ways that learning professionals can ease the transition to globalization by involving the learning function.628. one of the most important corporate issues today. The study breaks the findings into six main categories that best explain how and why to harness the potentially untapped power of informal learning. Included are findings and recommendations to help companies leverage the next generation of collaboration and communication tools for learning and performance improvement.2783 or 703.683. .0 TechNologieS AN ASTD ReSeARch STuDy sponsored by For more information about this report click here 041020. TRANSfoRmiNg leARNiNg wiTh web 2.org. Learning’s roLe in empLoyee engagement | an astD research stuDy | TALENT MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AND OPPORTUNITIES identifies how talent management is currently being used by a diverse range of organizations and lays out the best practices of an effective talent management program. The study identifies the strategies and organizational factors most responsible for influencing employees to become more engaged. with a specific emphasis on learning. The report looks at what technologies are gaining the most use in organizations and reviews the risks and rewards of adopting Web 2. Use this research data to determine what you can do to boost employee engagement in your organization.| MORE FROM ASTD RESEARCH | LEARNING’S ROLE IN EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT investigates how organizations are addressing employee engagement. Use this research data to determine what your organization can do to work through the numerous challenges that go along with the expansion into global markets. Tapping The poTenTial of informal learning | an aSTD reSearch STuDy | For more information about this report click here TRANSFORMING LEARNING WITH WEB 2.0 TECHNOLOGIES describes how Web 2.0 tools.0 technologies are being used for learning in today’s organizations. by calling 800. Use this research data to improve your talent management program or find out the best before starting one in your organization. With many firms struggling to find the right way to develop top-level leaders.astd. this study helps to answer common questions about the state of executive development.51110 | HOW TO ORDER | Research reports published by ASTD can be purchased by visiting our website at store.

astd. candidate selection. The data in this report can help many firms become more proficient in successful measurement of the learning function. .| MORE FROM ASTD RESEARCH | THE STATE OF SALES TRAINING 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. The study will equip you with the statistics to inform important sales training decisions. Most companies admit their succession planning efforts have significant room for improvement. THE RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA ENHANCING COLLABORATION AND PRODUCTIVITY ACROSS GENERATIONS AN ASTD RESEARCH STUDY LEARNING IN TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES: HOW CORPORATE LEARNING IS MEETING THE CHALLENGES The global recession weighs heavily on everyone’s mind. IMPROVING SUCCESSION PLANS: HARNESSING THE POWER OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT AN ASTD RESEARCH STUDY For more information about this report click here For more information about this report click here | HOW TO ORDER | Research reports published by ASTD can be purchased by visiting our website at store. STATe of SAleS TRAiNiNg AN ASTD ReSeARch STuDy sponsored by For more information about this report click here THE VALUE OF EVALUATION: MAKING TRAINING EVALUATIONS MORE EFFECTIVE study explores the complex issue of learning evaluation. Learning in Tough Economic Times presents compelling information on best practices organizations are using to cope with financial uncertainty. For more information about this report click here THE RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA ENHANCING COLLABORATION AND PRODUCTIVITY ACROSS GENERATIONS report explores the business case for supporting and using social media technologies from a learner’s point of view. This report is a powerful tool for implementing meaningful change within organizations: the analysis leads to recommendations on the creation of metrics. and key practices to cope with barriers to effective plans. and strategic uses of learning metrics. ideas. For more information about this report click here IMPROVING SUCCESSION PLANS: HARNESSING THE POWER OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT explores the business case for succession planning and breaks down how companies are executing it. The report includes valuable results and recommendations to help executives make strategic decisions about social media that can positively affect organizational goals and growth. This study provides real data. provide you with a background on the current sales training environment. With greater scrutiny and emphasis on effectiveness. barriers to effective implementation. by calling 800. the techniques being used. and tools that you can implement to be a strategic business partner and help position your organization for success in the recovery.8100.628.2783 or 703. and give you policy recommendations that can get you started on the road to success now. This exclusive perspective provides business leaders with insight into leveraging the power of social media tools.org.683. organizations continue to explore ways to communicate and document the value of training and development they provide to employees. Most of us are cutting back and looking for ways to be more effective with fewer resources.

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