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Sales Training vs. Sales Development: What’s the Difference?

By October 28, 2019 No Comments

Sales down? As a sales manager, you may be ready to fire off an email requesting budget for “sales training” in order to get the sales team the “sales development” they need to meet and beat quota. But before you hit send on that email, know that “Sales Training” and “Sales Development” are not the same. 

While the two common sales phrases are often used interchangeably, they are actually entirely different initiatives. So what is the difference between Sales Development and Sales Training – and which is right for your salesforce? 

Sales Development:

  • Focuses on an individual level
  • Designed to change selling behaviors
  • Develops selling judgement
  • Helps reps build long term sales careers 
  • Hones sales skills
  • Addresses the “why, what, who, when, how” of sales
  • Involves the reps in what is being taught

Sales Training:

  • Focuses on a group level
  • Educates sales reps about product
  • Informs reps about specific requirements of their role
  • Gets reps up to speed on a particular topic
  • Develops sales knowledge
  • Broadcasted to the group with limited individual engagement

All sales reps can benefit from both  – but how much of each is determined by:

  1. What stage of a rep’s career they are in
  2. Individual strengths and weaknesses of sales reps
  3. Whether or not the sales organization is undergoing a sales transformation

For New Hires, Sales Training is the Chicken and Sales Development is the Egg 

When on-boarding sales reps, think sales development first. It’s the egg in the chicken and the egg scenario. Sales development can help a new employee develop the foundation so they can grow into an effective salesperson. 

Selling behaviors are learned. An effective sales development program helps sales reps develop effective selling behaviors so they can make the most out of sales training. There is even specific sales development software for newbies, including ours which was created to decrease time to revenue for new hires.

How Can Sales Managers Figure Out Sales Strengths and Weaknesses?

Assess, assess, assess. Sales assessments are crucial to assigning the right amount of sales development and/or sales training resources to each rep and to the sales organization as a whole. 

Think of your sales team as a waiting room full of patients with different complaints. How effective would it be to prescribe each one a round of antibiotics? For some, it may be just what they need. But for others, it wouldn’t do anything to address their pain points. Like a doctor, a sales manager needs to assess the needs of each person individually – and look for trends in the group as a whole – to be effective. 

A good sales assessment tool, like the one built into our UPtick™software, will show you strengths and weaknesses on both an individual and team level – and even offer a “prescription” that combines sales training and sales development.

My Sales Organization is Undergoing a Sales Transformation, Do We Need Sales Training or Sales Development?

While a sales transformation is a particularly challenging time, effective sales organizations use both, and they don’t wait until sales are down or for a dramatic organizational shift to implement sales training and sales development programs. That said, while the team as a whole may require more intensive sales training to ensure they are familiar with new processes and products, don’t overlook your rep’s continual need for sales development. While the company is changing in the short-term, it’s easy to lose track of their long-term growth – and your long-term sales success.

So which do you need? The short answer is both, and you may actually want to send an email requesting budget for both “sales training” and also “sales development” in order to help the sales team meet and beat quota.