Self-Directed Learning in Sales Training

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With budgets reducing and the ability to share information increasing exponentially, self-directed learning is becoming the de facto way of training in many organisations for salespeople.

Hiring expensive sales trainers to travel to train your sales force is a cost that is difficult to justify, especially when you have invested thousands in implementing sharepoints and intranets that are apparently going to ‘revolutionise’ your sales training delivery.

Now is the time to capitalise on those intranet investments.  But the intranet is not the answer, the content and the sales training agreements between employers and their staff is key.

In order to get the very best results out of your Self-Directed Sales Training program, it’s important to follow these steps:

1) Sales management need to set clear objectives on what they would like to sell with targets and goals; spanning revenue values, types of customers to target, average size of deal etc.

2) Product managers/Subject matter experts covered in the sales objectives of the Sales Managers must then review the market place critically and create dynamic content that specifically refers to the customer issues, removing all details and features (however cherished by the seller) that do not specifically relate to how this resolves a customer issue.

3) Sales management then need to sit down with the sales force to create a mutual agreement concerning what the sales training/content will cover, and the benefits for the sales force.  At this point, management can obtain customer insights from the sales force and build this into the Subject Matter Expert content.

4) At this point, the training is delivered to the sales teams over a set period of time (but split into sections, rather than in one go).  After each session, the sales teams need to feedback to management so that content can be dynamically changed on the fly rather than wasting precious sales time continuing to deliver sales training programmes that do not relate to what they see day to day in their customer interactions.

5) More informally and in a subtle manner, sales reps should seek to ascertain customer feedback on how they feel their new solutions ‘align’ with their needs, and how they have perceived the engagement so far between seller and buyer.  This information should then be fed back into the programme design for continual improvement.

Whilst management ‘say’ that they welcome feedback, they really have to walk the walk in this instance, and put in place formal procedures and objectives for the sales teams to feedback their view of the sales training content and delivery, and importantly of the subtle customer feedback so that it can be integrated into the next round of sales training.

This ensures continual improvement of the sales delivery processes, and allows the Subject Matter Experts and Sales Management to get realtime customer feedback, which they are usually removed from.  This is a much better way of gaining an insight into the true ROI of sales training programmes in an organisation.

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