Properly and continuously trained sales reps produce greater revenues for their organizations than their undertrained peers (50% higher actually). Yet sales leaders continue to ignore their sales training budget and downplay the positive effects of training, in fact:
- 55% of sales professionals do not receive the sales training and tools they need to be successful
- The average company invests $10,000-$15,000 in hiring a new sales rep but only invests around $2,000 each year in training
While some leaders blatantly ignore the benefits of training, many others simply struggle with investing their sales reps' time into training instead of selling. This guide will help you, as a federal sales leader, build an effective sales training budget and provide tips on how to engage your sales reps to spend time on professional development.
How Much Should I Budget Per Rep For Sales Training?
The CSO Sales Optimization Study found that over 75% of companies surveyed reported they do not invest in training or their annual sales training budget ranges from <$500 to 2,500/rep. However, a Salesforce study also found that companies with the highest performing sales team invest more than $1,000/year per rep at a rate of 2.6 times more than their underperforming sales peers. In simpler terms, the top producing sales teams hold a higher dollar value on sales training for their teams. Correlation, maybe?
This data suggests sales leaders should invest a minimum of $1,000/rep annually on sales training and if you fall within the majority of companies your likely max will be around the $2,500/rep investment. This range, while helpful in providing a rough estimate, fails to take into account the potential costs of the training that will be most valuable to your team. We do not suggest you jump right into submitting a training budget request on these numbers of alone, you need to determine what training your team actually needs first.
What Types of Sales Training Should I Invest In?
This answer will greatly vary depending on the following factors of your team:
- Number of years spent selling
- Number of years spent selling specifically to the Federal Market
- Unique areas that need improvement
Once you understand these elements, you can determine the types of training each of your reps may need. For example, a brand new Federal sales rep with no prior sales experience will likely benefit from the following training:
- In-Person Federal Sales Certification Training course: This course will provide greater 1:1 interaction with an experienced and successful Federal Sales Leader to go over the nuances of the Federal Market and how to best approach it from all stages of the federal sales process including planning, prospecting, contracting, etc.
- Self-Paced or In-Person Sales Communication Training: This type of training will provide general tips and best practices for initiating conversations and uncovering customer needs.
- Tool/Process Specific Training: This type of training will provide detailed training on how you expect your new sales reps to use and apply your organization's specific tools and process.
- OnDemand Federal Sales Certification Training: This course will provide continual access to content for reference throughout the government fiscal year and during the long federal sales process.
In comparison, a more seasoned Federal Sales Rep will likely only need access to the latest version of the OnDemand Federal Sales Training course to understand changes in contracting, product certifications, etc. as well as any deep dive training into a specific skill area for improvement such as Government Reseller Conversations, new tool/process training, etc.
There is a drastic change in the amount of training required for a brand new Federal Sales Rep, experienced Federal Sales Rep, or new sales hire, and, as such, there is a drastic change in the amount of money you need to allocate to each personnel. Once you identify the specific training each of your reps needs, then you can build out a more accurate annual training budget.
Pro Tip: As a sales leader, continually investigating and vetting training courses will allow you to build a sales training library you trust and can easily pull from when you need to reskill or upskill your team. It also makes your annual professional development planning faster if you simply need to identify the skills to train and then quickly pull the costs associated with each of those skills from your pre-vetted library.
How To Ensure My Sales Training Program Is Effective?
The most cited reason for sales training hesitancy, lies in the fact that many sales reps do not apply what they learn. This is a valid concern but also one that you can easily mitigate.
Often times in training, we want to provide all the information possible at once and then send the students out into the world to apply it. This is rarely effective (just think of the information you actually retained from your K-12 education, it's probably only a small fraction of what was taught to you). People will more likely retain the information that they immediately put into action or the information they find truly fascinating; everything else tends to stay buried in the back of their mind. While you can't control if your sales reps will find their training fascinating, you can control the amount of information presented to them and their opportunities to apply it.
Here's an example. You just hired a Federal Sales Rep who is new to Federal Market Sales. You sit down and tell this new rep they will attend an in-person Federal Sales Certification Training course and provide a description of the course and the instructor's credentials in this area. Next, you ask the rep to provide you a list of 5 questions they want answered as a result of attending this class and how the answers to these questions will help make them successful right now in their Federal Sales journey. (Hint: for a new hire like this, most of the questions should be around identifying their TAM, prospecting, etc. ) Next you review these questions with the rep and help refine them, if needed. Send the rep to the class with the expectation that they will need to report back the answers to these questions after. Following the class, review their findings and set them off on applying that knowledge to their current efforts. In your check-ins, ask specific, open-ended questions on how they are applying the knowledge areas from their training. As they progress in their sales process to things like negotiating reseller engagements, identifying contract vehicles etc. provide the same direction as done previously for this new knowledge area and associate it with the OnDemand version of those lessons.
By following this example or any variation of it, you essentially provide your rep just enough information that they can apply, become comfortable with and then you add on to their education through a more flexible training format and repeat the process. While, it may seem tedious or an unbearably long process for getting a rep the training they need, remember it is continuous training that will enable your reps to sell more not a set amount of information conveyed to them.
Finally, you will likely not find a sales rep that is self-motivated to enroll in training (even OnDemand training) because, in their mind, it takes away their time for selling. As the sales leader, your job is to enforce the need to train. By allowing reps to push off their training dates or not fully engage in the course, you send the signal that training does not improve their performance. You first need to recognize the value of the training you recommend and convey that clearly as well as your expectations for the results of a rep's training if you want to reap the massive revenue benefits of a high-performing sales team.
Are You Ready To Build Your Federal Sales Training Budget?
We can help! Our team can help identify the specific skill areas your Federal Sales Team needs and the best way for them to attain that knowledge and apply it.
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