It’s common practice for all sales staff to be offered the same professional development opportunities. After all, you can’t send one team member on a sales course and not another… or can you? 

One question to ask above all others

Although well-intentioned, sometimes providing equal opportunities for all your staff can actually backfire. You may end up spending unnecessary money investing in training programmes that quite simply don’t work for your entire team. Everyone is different, and therefore thrives in different learning environments. What works for Tom probably won’t work for Jerry – and vice versa.

Before you invest in team-wide training, it’s important to ask the question: does everyone really need this? Will they all benefit from it?

The reality is, some of your staff will be performing better than others. Some probably have what it takes to continue selling to a high standard without further training. Others may be struggling to hit their targets and require some additional support. A small percentage of your staff may even be uncoachable – selling might simply not be in their DNA.

It’s better to ask this question upfront – ‘does everyone need training?’ – than to commit to the training process and find out what worked and what failed after you’ve already invested time and money.

This is why every sales training programme should start with a comprehensive evaluation. Assessing where you and your team is at right now is the best way to move forward. If you don’t know what you’re working with, how can you make improvements?

The importance of evaluating your team

Evaluation has to be the first step. In order to achieve the best results, you need to first achieve absolute clarity about your present situation. You can then tailor your training efforts around the results from this initial audit.

Conducting an evaluation can help you to:

  • Avoid investing in generic training programmes;
  • Identify your team’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • Set measurable training goals;
  • Ensure that the right people are in the right roles;
  • And clearly define what success looks like to you.

Once armed with this powerful information, you will be able to make better decisions moving forward and ensure each member of your team receives the training opportunities they require.

The importance of conducting pre-training evaluations isn’t based on intuition, but on solid research. Studies from industry leading experts such as the Objective Management Group, Professor Neil Rackham and the Sales Executive Council all acknowledge the significant part that evaluations play in the sales training process.

Based on data from hundreds of thousands of salespeople and global organisations, the five-step process places conducting an evaluation at the top of the list – you need to know what you’re working with before you can find solutions.

Next time you find yourself wondering whether everyone on your team needs training, be sure to go back to the drawing board and conduct a thorough assessment of your people and processes.

This article was originally posted on SalesStar.com. Ventas Sales is a Certified SalesStar Partner. For more information click here.