In an evolving corporate world and a competitive economic climate, most salespeople lack the skills to be as effective as you need them to be in order to help you grow your company. In this digital age, consumers are more informed through digital media and their expectations are high in terms of customer experience. Therefore, it takes more effort for salespeople to get their message across in order to make maximum sales.
The importance of understanding the customer better, becoming a product expert, and shaping the buying journey means that a whole set of added skills are now a prerequisite. In fact, the changing nature of the sales process means that the skills gap is only likely to widen if no investment is made in training. Not surprisingly, 92% of salespeople say that sales training has increased their selling abilities.
What statistics say about the sales skills crisis?
66% of companies report that they have trouble recruiting sales staff with the necessary skills, and two thirds of all CEOs believe there is a talent crisis in the world. Yet, there is surprisingly little talent innovation.
The 2015 Employer Skills Survey (ESS) – the third in a series of UK-wide skills surveys run by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) – gives insight into the skills issues faced by employers. The survey highlighted that sales, along with a number of other areas of expertise, were showing persistent skills shortages. According to the survey, 39% of employers believe customer handling skills are lacking amongst applicants, while a quarter of respondents said sales skills weren’t present. Ability to sell, as well as persuading or influencing others were two of the skills in shortest supply.
In Scotland, the situation is no different – 7,000 sales jobs were left unfilled in December 2016. Hence, the Institute of Sales Management (ISM) launched regional committees throughout Scotland to bring businesses and sales opportunities together. This represents a huge financial problem considering that the sales industry is worth billions to Scotland, with exports accounting for £76 billion and those deals were negotiated by salespeople.
Statistics are very alarming but what’s driving this shortage?
Sales is not an easy job; the high pressure environment, long hours and stress of hitting and missing targets can put candidates off this career and drive them towards other jobs. Investing in good training and development can reduce this, by nurturing staff and easing them into the job. There isn’t one particular reason for the causes of sales skills gap.
The graph below shows the leading causes of skills gaps – The inability to recruit staff with the required skills was given as a reason by 26% of employers. Besides, 56% said training was only partially completed while over a quarter said a lack of appropriate training was another reason for the shortage of skillful salespeople.
Training and Development as a means to close the skills gap
It comes as no surprise that successful training cropped up as a necessity to solve this issue. TD.org determined three key elements to ensure successful training: focusing on the individual, allowing room for practice for permanent results, and, of course, feedback. Below are the factors to consider to ensure effective training:
Assessment to analyze skills gap
It is important to understand that training programs aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Therefore implementing training needs-assessments will identify any gaps in your current training initiatives and employee skill sets. Hence, these gaps should be analyzed and prioritized and turned into the organization’s training objectives. At Sales Academy, a gap analysis is performed to identify the learning needs of employees. This is done through these three options:
1. An objective online quiz consisting of multiple-choice questions.
2. An online self-appraisal, in which individuals assess their own competencies.
3. A traditional assessment, through a consultant.
Provide engaging and innovative training
Effective training uses all the senses to enhance learning. Sales training should introduce skills, concepts, and exercises to practice the skills and real life scenarios that are relevant to your industry and customers. For instance: at Sales Academy, learners follow their courses through scenario-based videos which allow them to experience real job situations. Hence, such training prepares them to face any challenge in their daily jobs.
Go back to basics
One of the core concepts of sales revolves around communication, relationship-building, and negotiation. Therefore, having a good grasp and understanding of what makes a good salesperson is essential to success. Sales training proves to be very beneficial for that – not only will it give your staff a chance to take a step back and re-evaluate their techniques but it will make sure employees understand the needs of each customer.
Work towards the company’s common goal
One of the main elements of a successful sales training is the fact that it will demonstrate how each employee is important to the team and allow them to understand how hitting their own targets will benefit the company as a whole. This is backed by research which has shown that working towards a common goal will ultimately increase overall performance.
Offer pro-active learner support
Above all, offering support is an essential aspect to consider. Support teams that help
learners are comprised of people who help them get their job done. For example: Sales
Academy will actively support and follow-up learners through their multilingual support
team, dedicated to making learning an engaging and effective experience.
Sales training represents the backbone of the sales force. Without an in-depth program, your sales team is more likely to remain unprepared, confused, and unsuccessful. There is no doubt that when it comes to growing your business and improving the effectiveness of your sales staff, sales training is what makes the difference so that skills gaps are identified and addressed. So are you helping to bridge the gap between skills and actual sales?