Sales Training Without Sales Management Support Has Limited Value

Posted on 09/11/2014 in Sales Coaching

At a recent meeting with a high-level sales executive at one of our long term clients, he asked me this question:  "What is the most important thing that you’ve learned about sales training?”

I replied that, based on over 23 years as a sales training consultant, the single most important thing that I’ve learned is that…sales training without sales management support has very limited value.  Specifically,  if sales managers don’t actively participate in reinforcing the workshop concepts,  bottom line results don’t improve much, or at all; and the training concepts and skills quickly decay in terms of retention and use by the salespeople.

To say it more positively, if you want to generate the maximize Return on Investment (ROI) on your sales training initiative, coaching by your sales managers is absolutely essential.  

Let’s explore in more detail why coaching is so essential.  In the words of my mentor from when I started in the sales training business, "…the value of coaching by a sales manager should be so immediately obvious that it requires no further study. Coaching is something that every manager should do.”

Quantifiable data supports the value of sales coaching. A study by the Sales Excellence Council in 2007 showed that sales managers who coached their reps by more than 3 hours per month demonstrated sales performance at 107% of sales goals. By contrast, sales reps for whom sales managers spent less than 2 hours per month per representative performed at 90% of sales goals.  This data demonstrates that coaching contributed to a 17% performance improvement, and was the difference between exceeding sales goals or not making goal.

Not all of our clients even bother to look at any metrics with regard to sales training initiatives.  The extra effort to measure can be eye opening, as one STAR client found.  STAR was hired to conduct a sales training program that included sales coaching training.  The client measured sales before and after the training initiative and ultimately realized a 64% increase in sales, measured one year after the completion of the training program and coaching initiative.  A prior sales training initiative, which focused on selling skills but did NOT include coaching, realized sales gains in the 10% to 15% range.  You can see the significance of the coaching component.  

We always recommend to every client that sales coaching be an integral part of every sales training initiative.  Sales coaching will improve sales performance and results yet many sales managers don’t find the time to coach, or some don’t have the skills needed to coach effectively.  To learn more about coaching, click here for our article titled Coaching for Success.