Sales and Sales Management Blog

January 13, 2008

Guest Article: What Should You Be Spending on Training? by Bill Caskey

I’m often asked by salespeople and companies how much I think they should be investing in training themselves or their sales team.  Most salespeople and companies skimp on training.  Companies leave training to their managers or have a training department made up of former educators or HR personnel who know little or nothing about sales.  Sales managers often make adequate coaches but most are poor trainers.  Training departments are notorious within the sales department for presenting beautiful–and useless–training programs.  Bill Caskey gives his suggestion of a reasonable training budget.  In a future blog post I’ll give my idea of how to select training providers. 

What Should You Be Spending On Training?
By Bill Caskey
Recently the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) delivered their 2007 State of Training Study. In it, they address the national average of investment-per- employee in training.

Their research showed that the average company invested approximately $1200/person in training in 2006—and the most telling indicator of all is it went down 7% from 2005.

One can argue all day about the “average” and how it applies to a sales team, but since that’s the work we do in our company and in this blog, I thought I’d add some comments.

You should be investing 5% of your income in training (that’s whether you’re a manager or a sales professional). If you earn $100,000 a year, then that means 5% should go back to nourish the ground and grow the organism.

If you’re in sales and you “make your own way” (are on total commission), then you’d better be taking a part of your income and putting it back in to the growth of your personal asset–your mind. Most people don’t do this. And most companies don’t invest nearly 5% of a person’s salary in training—but they should.

Not investing that money implies that you cannot get 5% more effective in what you do. Two years ago, we had a person call and order “one of everything” from our array of products. It was so unusual that I called him back to find out what was up.

He told me his story about when he started in sales at age 25 and he committed to investing 10% of everything he earned back in to personal growth. (It was a suggestion by his mentor). His first year, his income was $30,000. By his eighth year, he was earning $275,000 (when he called to order one of everything).

He confided in me that it was a bit hard to justify 10% of $275,000 ($27,500); however, he hadn’t gotten to $275,000 a year by not investing—so why should he stop now?

His number of 10% seemed a bit high, but it had served him well and had done the job, and he should not stop.

As you head in to next year, what are your plans for investing in yourself? Are you committing not just the financial resources, but also the time, to learning, growing and blossoming?

If not, shame on you. You have infinite potential and it’s waiting to flourish, and one thing that helps is investing in yourself and learning new ways to solve old problems.

Bill Caskey is a sales development leader and experimenter. His ideas about selling are convictions about life, money, and meaning. He has coached sales professionals and executives for over 19 years. And his philosophies and strategies have fueled explosive growth in sales and profits for clients.


1 Comment »

  1. I couldn’t agree more with the need for ongoing training; however, I think sales managers and trainers tend to forget that part of ongoing training should always include helping salespeople “unlearn.” Specifically, salespeople, especially veteran salespeople, tend to think they know “what can’t be done” and consequently never attempt to do what they think is a waste of time. This is a dangerous trap and should be avoided at all cost. I see new recruits sell prospects that veterans gave up on long ago. Why? Well, because they didn’t know “what couldn’t be done!”

    Comment by Sales Sage — January 13, 2008 @ 10:42 pm | Reply

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