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Home > News > May 2004 > 27-May-2004

Survey reveals need for more investment in sales force training

Sales Challenge Limited, in conjunction with the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management, has announced the results of its survey into the training needs of Sales Directors which found that sales professionals across the UK believe that effective training of their sales teams is critical to the bottom line of their companies.

However the study also reveals a huge variation in the amount of training being provided with over a third spending just £500 to £1000 on training for each sales person per year.

The SCL 2004 Sales Director Survey reveals that companies are using a variety of training methods, with 63 per cent of Sales Directors now opting for blended learning through using a mixture of face-to-face and e-learning techniques.

The study also found large differences in the amount of time being devoted to training. Of those surveyed, over 40 per cent spend less than six days a year on training their sales force, with a quarter of companies only spending one or two days on training. Less than 15 per cent of companies claimed to spend ten or more days on training.

Providing training for a sales force is seen as critical to future business success, with three quarters of responders stating that by not investing in training they would lose market share. Other concerns expressed include fears that business results would suffer (46 per cent) and that sales teams would be less productive (42 per cent). 23 per cent believe that they may lose staff if they do not invest in training. Only seven per cent of companies believed that there would be no or very little risk to their organisation from under investment in training.

Sales Directors ranked the key skills required to make a good sales professional as being customer driven (81 per cent), followed by attitude (74 per cent), personality (65 per cent), industry competence (63 per cent), sales process and methodology (30 per cent) and, lastly, strategy (23 per cent). 70 per cent of responders measure these attributes, although the majority do this on a qualitative basis at appraisals and team reviews.

Gary Perkins, Managing Director of Sales Challenge Limited, said: "It is clear from the survey findings that Sales Directors recognise the importance and risks to their business of not investing in sales training. Organisations need to take a consistent approach to cost-effective sales training that has a direct impact on sales and business performance".

Finally, Sales Directors were also asked where they stood on the age-old debate of whether great sales people are made or created. Interestingly, the research found the industry equally divided with 40 per cent believing they are made and 40 per cent claiming that they are created. Around 16 per cent believed that a combination of both was required to produce a brilliant sales professional.

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