Why aren’t my Sales Representatives Succeeding?

Today’s post was written by Justin Lane, a Director of Product Marketing at Xactly Corporation. With 17 years of experience in the world of sales incentive compensation management, Justin is a true believer in the power of incentives to change the world and is passionate about helping clients maximize return on their compensation investment spend. He attended Arizona State University where he received his B.S. in Organizational Design.

According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD) American companies spend upwards of $20 billion per year on sales training. Contrast that with a mind-boggling statistic from a recent SiriusDecisions survey that 71% of sales representatives blame their inability to close deals on their lack of knowledge.   What’s going on here? The current thinking and practices of many organizations have led them to a place where key product and sales methodology knowledge isn’t being transferred and retained by sales representatives and both training dollars and sales performance is suffering. Let’s unpack some of the current problems around sales training and sales coaching and see if they can’t be easily addressed to add a much needed boost to sales performance.

Once isn’t Enough

ATD reports that continuous sales training results in 50 percent higher net sales per employee.

Common problem – Many organization follow the plan of a one-time knowledge dump during sales representative on-boarding. They are hit with sales process, sales methodology, product knowledge, and a brief introduction to a foreign set of sales enabling technologies and then released upon your hard fought leads  and opportunities. Six to nine months later when they are unsuccessful and jaded where does the blame lie? Were they a bad hire or were they not given the continuous sales training needed?

There is a solution. Every sales representative comes to your company with a different set of experiences and skill set so an individualized training plan built hand-in-hand with their sales manager to create a curriculum with easy access to the right materials, at the right time, and in the right learning format is one key to success.

Learning has Changed

The current adult attention span is around 8 seconds (less than a goldfish), according to a recent Microsoft study. 

The issue – Wait, what? 8 seconds? Research has shown that the average attention span is short, really short. The researchers theorized that the weak attention span may be a side effect of evolving to a mobile internet. This makes a lot of sense as another study shows that we touch our phones 2,617 times a day and 87% of Millennials say that their smart phone never leaves their side. This attention span dynamic is in diametric contrast to long-form learning such as the classroom.

The solution? Take advantage of the ubiquity of mobile devices and deliver content via Micro and Nano learning videos. “The perfect teachable moment as the intersection of a small question with a great small answer” – Malcom Knowles, Adult Educator Expert. Micro learning is defined by different people in different ways, but a simple way to think about it is 5 minutes, 5 pages, or one infographic. Nano learning is even shorter – 2 minutes or less.

People Forget

After a single day we retain about 33.7% of what we learned.

Problem – People forget and they forget rapidly. The learning community has long known that if content is not reinforced than it is rapidly forgotten. The classic “forgetting curve” illustrated that in a single day up to 66 percent of what you teach your reps during new hire training, sales kickoff meetings, product training, and sales methodology is forgotten by the trainees.

From day one as a new hire, throughout the course of their sales career, your sales representatives need consistent and customized coaching. By providing regular reinforcement in consumable bite size pieces, managers can offset the forgetting curve, accelerate new hires to become full quota-bearing reps, and significantly drive the performance of experienced sales representatives.

Rethink how you are on-boarding, coaching, and training your sales force today. Many organizations are falling prey to the three problems above and are realizing sub-par performance from their training investments and sales representative performance. By recognizing and addressing the problems you can flip the script and start seeing improved and inspired performance from your sales force.


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Why aren’t my Sales Representatives Succeeding?

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