Organizations Remain Committed to Sales Skills Training

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ATD’s sales training research finds that 60 percent of organizations provided quarterly skills training to their sales personnel.

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The average organization dedicated 69 percent of its sales budget for internal costs, 26 percent for learning suppliers, and 5 percent for tuition reimbursement.

The average organization spent $2,020 per salesperson on sales training last year, according to the Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) 2021 State of Sales Training research report.

The report, sponsored by Highspot, examined how organizations develop and manager their sales training content—who is responsible for creating the content, whether they use a sales competency model, process, or methodology in their training, and what tools they use to store and disseminate content.

Nearly nine in 10 organizations used a sales process or sales methodology to support their sales training, compared to 69 percent that used a sales competency model. Regardless of whether they are developed internally or from a third party, previous research from ATD has shown that organizations that use sales competency models, sales processes, or sales methodologies are more likely to be high performers than those that do not.

At most organizations, multiple groups helped create sales content. Internal subject matter experts, such as product developers or managers, were involved at 67 percent of organizations; 50 percent of organizations involved sales leadership or a dedicated sales enablement function. Suppliers, individual salespeople, marketing, and general talent development employees participated in the content creation process at between 30 and 35 percent of organizations.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The average organization dedicated 69 percent of its sales budget for internal costs, 26 percent for learning suppliers, and 5 percent for tuition reimbursement.
  • About 31 percent of survey respondents expected their organizations’ spending on sales training to decrease while 18 percent expected it to increase in the current fiscal or calendar year, which included at least part of 2020 for most organizations. Expectations for the next fiscal or calendar year reflect optimism as 80 percent of respondents expect their spending on sales training to increase or hold steady.
  • At the typical (median) organization, the average first-year salesperson had seven to eight annual training days. The average third-year and fifth-year salespeople had three to four training days.
  • Most participants enhanced their organizations’ sales training by incorporating various instructional features and elements, which other research from ATD has shown is associated with better organizational performance. The top features and elements included in sales training were post-training activities (80 percent), scenario-based learning (75 percent), and pretraining activities (72 percent).
  • Most organizations used at least some simulations in their sales training, with 61 percent using nontechnology-based simulations and 23 percent using technology-based simulations.

All organizations that participated in this research accompanied their formal standalone sales training with at least one form of on-the-job learning, and a majority used more than one. Coaching, cited by 84 percent of respondents, was the most frequently used. Other forms of popular on-the-job learning included job aids and performance support tools, shadowing of more experienced salespeople, and mentoring.

A free webinar about the sales report will take place April 8 at 2 p.m. ET.

About ATD
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees, improve performance, and help to achieve results for the organizations they serve. Established in 1943, the association was previously known as the American Society for Training & Development.

ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD supports talent development professionals who gather locally in volunteer-led US chapters and international member networks, and with international strategic partners.

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