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  • Jerry Phillips

Investment or expense

Is training your team an expense or an investment? It really depends on the training. I’m a big supporter of training a sales team on product and services. Just as important is training them on sales process. Sales training can be an event, and at that point, it’s an expense.

I was fortunate to work for Black & Decker/DeWalt. We were considered one of the top 100 training companies in a survey by Fortune magazine. We hired a great deal of our sellers off the campus. They would come into the company in groups of 30 or more and spend several weeks in training on product and sales process before they ever saw a customer. They had strong sales leaders in a 5:1 ratio, so they were working with their supervisor (who was well trained in coaching) on a regular basis. When we launched the DeWalt brand of power tools, the team grew market share in our target market by a 5X ratio. Training was an investment with an amazing return.

I’ve worked with several companies since then that took training very seriously. They saw the training as an investment in their team. They expected and earned revenue growth, order size growth, and better customer, and seller retention. The growth came from building a playbook and having a sales process. Having a “check the box” training session creates energy for the sellers for a week or two, but six months later there is no indication that you even had it.

Training must be consistent and coached. It must be seen as an investment. Product and service expertise gets the seller part of the way to being successful. Understanding the customer needs and being able to solve their problems is differentiator.

Are you investing in your sales team? Are you investing in training beyond just product or services? What are your key metrics that training can impact and how are you tracking success of your training? Profitable revenue growth is the result, but what are the actions and sales motions that drive the results? I would suggest measuring dwell time in your pipeline and measuring shortening of your selling cycle. I would also suggest you look at customer and seller retention. Define a quality sales call and then measure how often your sellers make quality calls that move the opportunity to the next step in the pipeline.

I once told a CEO friend of mine that I was doing work for, that if he saw me as an expense, he needed to fire me and find another person. It changed the conversation and it changed how we worked together. No, he didn’t fire me…

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