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Investing in Your Sales Team


During times when both business and training budgets are tight, management often asks what can be done to improve the return on the company’s investment of training dollars. While there’s no easy answer to this question, there are a few basic points, known as the Training Discrepancy Model, which illustrate key areas that must be targeted for your company’s training investment to be 100% effective.

First, think of a triangle. The points of the triangle will be Skills, Individual Motivation, and Corporate Support.

Skills. In order for an individual to be 100% successful he/she must possess proper skills. It is the responsibility of the company to identify the proper skills necessary to succeed. How do we do that?

Identify the job function. Identify all the specific functions that a given job will entail.

Benchmarks. Set benchmarks for each one of the job functions. Benchmarks are simply the acceptable level of expertise necessary to succeed. If we have 5-6 different job functions, you would therefore have 5-6 different benchmarks.

Once benchmarks are set, management can then determine the skills necessary for each job function in order to hit those benchmarks. We need a global view of the job in order to understand what skills are necessary.

Individual motivation. As a sales manager you must create an environment to optimize the salesperson’s personal performance on a daily basis. You can do that by conducting one-on-one meetings with the salespeople after returning from training classes. During these sessions discuss what they’ve learned, and how they can utilize the day-to-day philosophies in order to increase productivity.

Motivation comes from within. Sandler training teaches that attitude and behavior are key concepts needed to succeed as a salesperson. Without personal motivation it doesn’t matter what skills are being taught by the training company or reinforced by management.

Corporate support. Corporate support is very important in order for training to succeed. Training needs to be a process, not an event. It can't be viewed from the salesperson’s perspective as a "and this too shall pass" program. At times, corporations striving to allow as many programs as possible have a flavor-of-the-month mentality. Corporate support would include things such as:

  • Reinforcement
  • Debriefing
  • Running sales meetings
  • Management participating in the training

Debriefing alone will create a culture that reinforces whatever training is being taught and will show corporate support. Salespeople on the street will realize that managers are continually following through on the concepts that are being taught.

Therefore, if we want to make sure that our people are getting the most out of their training in today’s environment, and we want to maximize the investment of company dollars, it’s critical to focus on these three areas: proper skills, individual motivation and corporate support. When all three components are targeted by management, training dollars are well spent and both management and salespeople will be pleased with the results.

Andrew Wall

Owner & President Sandler - Milton, ON