Who’s responsible for Salesforce Training – Sales or HR?

As much as sales managers and HR professionals wish it were so, proper salesforce training entails far more than just running workshops for a day or two. Sales training is about changing behavior and improving performance.

But who should ultimately be responsible for leading the charge – Sales or HR/Training? The Sales vs. HR issue is a tough one. The common complaint amongst sales departments is that often the HR training experts have no selling experience.  Corporate sales executives frequently will say, “make sure the trainer has sold, or he/she will have no credibility working with our people.”

On the other hand, the HR executives’ comments run something like, “You’ve got to have training skills, you’ve got to understand adult learning to offer sales training or it’s going to be an eight hour lecture where nothing will stick to their brains.”

So just what is the right approach? The answer, perhaps not surprisingly, is both.

It needs to be supported by both the Sales and Training / HR departments. The Sales department (as the program owner) needs to provide the most applicable insights from the field from an organization perspective. This should include ‘real-world’ examples and a relevancy review to make sure the training and performance tools are meaningful and useful to the sales person. The Training department should be involved to assist in design and development providing the adult learning model and processes.

Training Design – a simplified process

The process begins by ascertaining two things. The first is to work mainly with Sales to gain an understanding of what the desired state, or vision looks like. We want to understand what success looks like. For instance, if we were to run a successful training program / learning intervention, what would the sales people be doing differently than they are today, and what would the numbers / metrics look like?  We need to understand this before anything else, so that we can understand where it is that we need to go. We need to identify the key behaviors and success metrics that we are aiming to achieve before we set out to train.

The second assessment is an evaluation of current state behaviors. We want to go out into the field and observe live sales calls with a subset of the sales team. Ideally we can go out and see best practices exhibited by one of the star performers, and also watch some of the average sales team members on calls. We can also listen to calls on the phone if an Inside sales team is being trained.

After we have gathered enough data to understand the current state behaviors, we can start to design the training platform with the support of HR so that it is geared to close the ‘gap’ between what is currently going on, and what it is the sales team needs to start doing to drive to the desired state objectives.

The next phase involves designing an actual implementation plan, with the support of both HR and Sales. During this step, the actual plan is developed including setting steps, milestones, a timeline, selecting a target population if needed, laying out activities, deciding upon output and outcomes, planning how the activities will be measured, and how the implementation process will be tracked and evaluated, etc.

Once the actual workshop phase has been designed and then delivered, the critical, but oft neglected phase of sales coaching must take place. While Sales must actually lead the execution on this, HR plays an important role in supporting this effort. It’s important to note that this phase requires extensive documentation. What resources were used, what activities were done, what barriers were encountered, were milestones achieved, was the new practice successful, were any modifications to the practice or to the implementation plan taken? HR should be able to provide the Sales team with the resources to do this. In this step, documentation logs are completed by all sales people and managers / coaches who are involved. During this step, we need to understand what worked and didn’t work, any missing elements, and what the outputs and outcomes were.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and Salesforce.com training firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, providing sales and HR leaders with the direction and support to ensure that their sales training programs are properly designed and executed.

Discover why traditional sales training doesn’t work.

by   Mark Christie