A recent survey found a key difference between companies with effective sales-training programs and those with less effective programs: how much they invest in follow up.

The survey, co-sponsored by TrainingIndustry Inc. and Axiom Sales Force Development, asked companies to rate their own programs. Based on the responses, the researchers divided respondents into Effective and Ineffective groups, and then analyzed what they did differently.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey found that the Effectives spend more money on sales training than the Ineffectives did. But not a whole lot more — only about ten percent.

More interesting was how they spent their money. Effectives spent nearly twice as much of their training budget on “sustainment” — that is, follow up — than the Ineffectives. They invested 22% on sustainment, versus only 13% for the Ineffectives.

In other words, sustainment seems to be THE critical difference between an effective and ineffective sales-training program. That’s the good news. The bad news is that even in the best companies, follow-up gets the short end of the stick. The same survey found that the bulk of investment goes to delivery — that is, the training event (52% for the Effectives; 60% for the Ineffectives). Next is planning (26% for Effectives; 28% for Ineffectives). Follow up is a distant third.

Those figures are in line with other evidence suggesting that follow up is the stepchild of sales training. Training events are high profile, exciting occurrences. They get a lot of visibility. And sales managers can outsource them pretty painlessly, either to an outside trainer or to the company’s training department. Follow up is a lot less glamorous. It’s hard work. It requires an ongoing commitment. And it’s usually up to the manager to make it happen.

But, as this survey shows, some companies are committed to making it happen. And those that do get a better return on their training investment.

So how about your organization? When it comes to sales training, is it devoting enough resources and attention to follow up?

For a full report on the study, go to: trainingindustry.com

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