We’ve been guiding companies through sales training provider evaluation and selection processes since 2005. Here are some of the things you’ll need to do to make certain you wind up with the right partner.
- Form a team of at least two, but no more than five people that will serve as the evaluation team and steering committee.
- Avoid having sales trainers visit with you before your requirements are determined (next step). The risk here is that they will stress what they are uniquely capable of doing, rather than what your real needs are.
- Make certain you understand your selling requirements and document them. What does it take for a salesperson to sell to your customers, taking into account, specifically, the customers’ buying trends, preferences, alternatives, history, practices, and relationships with suppliers? Here is a report ($) that ESR published entitled, Understanding, Defining and Meeting Your Sales Methodology and Training Requirements.
- Determine, as objectively as possible, how your salespeople are presently performing as a team, and individually. What are the gaps between what’s required for a customer to buy from them, and their ability to exhibit those required traits, skills, and behaviors when they are actively selling? Document the gaps.
- What will be your performance objectives for this initiative in terms of top-line revenue, win/loss against certain competitors, length of sales cycle, average selling price, average discount, etc.? Document those.
- Evaluate your current sales methodology, sales processes, selling tools, and training approach. Can you validate that each of those components directly supports ongoing performance improvement as they currently exist? Document which ones do, and which ones don’t.
- Put all your salespeople and sales managers through a proven set of assessment tests, including psychometric and skills. Be prepared to learn that more than 20% of your people are not suited for the sales positions they hold. Put a plan in place to redeploy those resources over a period of time. Keeping them on the team will severely limit your ability to achieve your objectives.
- Create a sales training requirements definition. What infrastructure, skills, tools, learning, reinforcement, technology, and management training is required to enable most members of your team to deliver at or above target?
- Distribute the requirements definition to at least 5 sales training companies determined to have expertise and experience that matches your requirements. Ask them to respond, in writing, with what their solution will entail. It is very important to compare the training companies against a fixed set of requirements. If they are not willing to respond eliminate them from further consideration.
- Once you have two finalists, invite them to spend time with you and key stakeholders. This is when they can share with you their vision of a solution and why they are uniquely qualified to meet your requirements.
- Once you have made a final selection, call no less than 10 references. The first five will undoubtedly be ecstatic. It’s the next five or ten that might share with you what doing business with that firm is really like. If you think that’s too much wasted time, just imagine what the cost is for selecting the wrong provider because you didn’t thoroughly check their references.
- If possible negotiate a shared-risk shared-reward agreement with the sales training company. They should get much of, but not all, their fees until your new objectives have been attained. They should be entitled to a bonus if your objectives are exceeded.
For more information, you can view this slide deck: