Ideas for Sales Training During a Recession

In any organisation, one of the first budgets to be cut is the sales training budget.  Yet this is short-sighted, and may create much-needed returns in the short term, but it won’t allow you to grow your staff’s competencies and expertise, and consequently, it will then limit your customer growth.

Of course it is hard to justify growth during a recession; when your Directors are putting pressure on for cost cutting and when redundancies are just around the corner.  However, training helps to keep morale up within employee teams, and shows that ‘although things are hard now, the company still cares’.

So the only way to get around this cost issue, is to look for sales training methods that won’t break the bank yet bring about the same, if not better, results.

  • Firstly, don’t underestimate your sales teams’ input – find out from them how they see sales training continuing during a period when we need to cut costs.  They understand, as they want the money being spent on them and their commission, not short-lived training programs that don’t bring results.
  • Secondly, what can you do to encourage your sales people to share the learning they do have – for instance, you could set up a training morning, but each salesperson has to train the team on a particular area of expertise that they have.  This cements their learning, and means that the other sales people are far more likely to take on board training from someone in ‘their shoes’.  What’s more, it is free.
  • Learn together – work through issues in a group, even if you (as a Sales Enabler/Trainer/Manager) don’t know the answer – work on the problem together and make headway, or identify key knowledge and skills gaps to focus on.
  • Bring in members of other teams to talk to your sales team – for instance, you could use your own internal Procurement Managers and buyers to role play purchasing scenarios with the sales teams.  You could get your technical teams to check understanding and training with the sales reps, rather than relying on outside training to fulfill this.
  • Look for less traditional sales training methods for training your sales teams – do you really need an expensive round of onsite sales training, or could a cheaper webinar do what you need?  Could you record short training videos internally and share them with the sales force instead?

The main point is that companies should not run the risk of abandoning training programs completely during the recession – as it will be here for a while and we all have to change our habits and continue to excel and win against the competition despite the tough economic environment. But, we can do a lot of dynamic and innovative training that usually ends up having better results because you have had to think long and hard about what you want the outcome to be, rather than just launching into traditional sales training – and just assuming that sales training will automatically deliver results (but what those results are, you aren’t quite sure before you start).

Another factor during the recession, is that sales people don’t have the time, or luxury, to be sitting in the office all day with the hours to spare for sales training.  Companies are under significant revenue pressures, and so want to keep their sales teams on the road or on the phones where they can be generating more business.

Therefore any sales training has to be fluid and mobile so they can incorporate it into their days out and about with customers.

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