If you’re just joining me in this multi-part series on how one size does not fit all, click here to read last week’s post.
This week, I’m going to share some thoughts on how to harness individual training plans for your company’s benefit. And where to start.
In my vocabulary, I might frequently refer to individual training plans to fully encompass a wide variety of steps and actions with regard to evaluating and training sales competencies and communication skills. For any business to business sales professional. Regardless of tenure, market, industry or geography.
When I’m talking about individual training plans, the discussion really fully encompasses these three stages:
At this assessment stage, make a list of the top five or 10 skills your team members need to be successful in your industry with selling your products and services. If your sales team rarely needs to present to win business, above average presentation skills would not be required to do the job successfully.
If your company has done an assessment like this in the past, but it’s from when you were bigger/smaller/pre-pandemic/etc., it’s time to tackle this again and bring it current.
Try to resist the urge to start evaluating whether your current team possesses these qualities and skills (that’s #2 below).
2) Evaluation & Benchmarking
Whether it’s subjective, objective, or a combination of both, an evaluation of your current sales team and their skills is a must. This is ideally done at the individual level. If that is not possible at this time within your business, identify the best sub-categories to use here. A lot of data and some observations…or the opposite, a little data and many situational observations, can really make the next step easier than it might seem.
This stage could easily be outsourced to someone like me who promises confidentiality and has a knack for asking the hard questions to leaders trying to tackle this stage.
Don’t forget to evaluate basic sales competencies and human skills. If you want to take this to the next level, consider interviewing current clients about the sales professionals you are evaluating.
As you put pen to paper and formalize training plans for your team, consider looking short term. Look to the next 12 – 24 months – that’s definitely far enough out. Maybe just the balance of 2023 and all of 2024. Things change. People change. Trends change. A five year plan might be overkill here.
Maybe you want to run a presentation skills workshop. But not all sales associates would benefit from it. Sending a bunch of mediocre presenters to a 2-day workshop rarely turns the entire group into superstars. Maybe some A players would love being invited, to take their skills to A+, or maybe they’d see it as an insult or waste of time. Maybe a product training is only required for anyone who did not sell that particular product in the last year. And on and on. So much could be discussed and brainstormed here.
Taking the time to discuss and move through all three stages is worth it. Trust me.
You want the most out of your sales team. You want them to be the best possible version of themselves – hopefully personally and professionally. You want to invest in those who want to grow.
Individual training plans, and maybe even opt-in programs (more on that later), are excellent ways to take your sales training and development to the next level.
More next week…in this multi-week series.
(Photo credit Maude Frédérique Lavoie)