Hiring any service is a challenge as there are many factors involved which are not easily quantifiable and also cannot be tried like a product.
Most people try to simplify by going with referrals or known contacts. That might work at the individual level, but at an organization level what is required is to follow a process and have a clear evaluation criterion.
Just like evaluation criteria to recruit employees, can there be something to consider if you want to choose and partner sales training company for sales training interventions?
Is there a set of factors which can be considered instead of going by a few factors such as industry experience, price?
Yes, for any successful evaluation what is the key is to know all factors needs to be considered and compare the same with different vendors. This is same method if you are recruiting employees, selecting software vendor , etc.
Similarly for sales training, one must know what factor causes the success of sales training and if the sales training company can justify the same?
Here are the 10 factors one must consider during the evaluation stage to hire a sales training company who can become your company partner for sales training, consulting and coaching interventions,
Sales training experience
Does the company have relevant experience in offering training services? How many industries they have served, how many salespeople they have trained and also for how long they are in business.
It is easy to start training company, but to know if the training company is successful, then look in to how long they are in business and how they have been serving the industry in terms of what kind of companies they have trained, how many salespeople, sales managers they have trained and for how many years they are doing this.
Sales vary across industries. Direct selling, consultative selling, channel sales, insight sales, etc. Also, industry is dynamic, and any sales training company must be able to adapt to this.
It is important to know how the sales training company and trainers have been adapting to this and their expertise in different kinds of selling environment. One can know by visiting their website, the content they share and diverse experience they have in the selling than just sales training delivery.
Any established sales training company and sales trainers would have served in many different industries. So, in a way industry knowledge though very important it is not a must consideration.
Yes, a sales trainer who is specialized in training pharmaceutical companies will find difficulty to train an engineering company. So, it is good to ask how the sales training company if they do not have experience in your industry, how they plan to learn about the industry and their process for the same.
Content & Delivery
Key part of the sales training is what kind of content is developed and how it is delivered. This is difficult to know at the time of evaluation. But companies can explore by asking the design of the content and process of delivery.
Look for sales training company who are willing to do pre-work and promise to deliver customized content if that is what is required. Also, explore what level of pre-work they do and what is their process, model of delivery from pre-work to final sustenance support.
Level of Customization to your company, industry
Again, for some industries what is required will be content developed relevant to the industry, product or service and tailored to the market. Most sales training companies claim they develop customized content.
But customization is applicable only in 40%-50% of training content and remaining of the skills will be standard. Keep an eye on this and ask sales training company of their method of developing content.
Training, especially when it comes to sales or any behavior related is not a one-time event. To really ensure that learnings are applied and practiced, what is required is post-training support and sustenance mechanism.
There are various ways it can be done, but the best way is to do with coaching. Ask the sales training company about their post-training support work and how effective it is.
Measuring sales training success
When it comes to sales training, a common challenge is how to measure the success of the training initiative? Since not all learning will immediately result in revenue numbers, it is a challenge to evaluate the success of the training initiative.
Especially with field force, it is difficult to know if the sales team is using new methods or still following their old methods. To measure the sales training success, a proven model required.
The best one is a 4-level model of Dr. Kirk Patrick. Check how familiar the sales training company on this and what levels do they support? Know more about Measuring the Sales Training Success
Today there is no need to rely only on classroom training. There are different methods exists such as instructor-led online, self-study online, one-on-one coaching to help sales team learn.
Now depending on the organization structure as well as budgets existing for training intervention, explore what all modes the sales training company can deliver.
The more the options they have, that shows they more experienced, they are investing in their delivery and can address different needs of clients.
One of the best ways to help salespeople is by coaching. Not all salespeople are at the same level as well as not all sales situation are similar. So, to help salespeople standardized training alone not enough.
What is sometimes more effective is support in the form of group-level coaching or individual coaching. Coaching is a separate skill and many trainers lack this. So, look for sales training companies whose trainers have invested in their coaching skills and can coach the sales teams.
There you go the 10 top factors one can look in to. Maybe in your industry not all required or you may need a few more. But we believe if you evaluate a company on the above 10 factors, then you have the best chance to shortlist the training company who will become a partner for your organization not just for one time but for many years tome come.
What we have not covered in this is, some of the known factors such as training investment. Sales training is a service and there is no fixed price on what needs to charge. It depends on companies and trainers expertise and complexity of training. So you will find prices which can vary a few thousand per day to a few lakhs per day.
So, what is required here not to go with price as the first thing, but go with what kind of returns on investment you expect and who is best suited to serve that? Ones you evaluate on the above factors, you will be in a better position to know whom to partner with.