Is the Best Sales Training Off-the-Shelf or Custom-Built?

September 5, 2018

U.S. companies spent 20% more money in 2017 to train their salespeople than they did to train workers in all other functions. Given that level of financial commitment, organizations need to be able to ensure they’re investing in the best sales training and maximizing their ROI.

The best sales training goes far beyond an initial onboarding session or quarterly sales kick-off. While many companies consider these efforts to be adequate, they’re typically inconsistent and ineffective.

Want to know why? It’s pretty simple. Regardless of method, all sales training programs share the same goals: to strengthen employee performance and boost the bottom line. That’s pretty much where the similarities stop, though.

Organizations have their own unique culture, performance metrics, product offerings, and service availabilities. As a result, it’s impossible to think that sales training could ever be successful as a one-size-fits-all solution.

Nonetheless, that’s the route many organizations go, selecting an off-the-shelf option to train their sales team and hoping that whatever the content is, it checks the box for their needs.

For sales training to be effective though, it shouldn’t just check the box. It should inspire, ignite, and even invigorate; helping the organization to build company-wide sales culture where team members speak the same language and relationships form easily across sectors, departments, and divisions.

We recognize the choice isn’t always that simple though. Budgets, timelines, and executive directives often play key roles in whether a company chooses off-the-shelf or custom sales training.

So, What’s the Best Sales Training?

To help you choose the best sales training for your organization, we’ve broken down the comparison between the two into five simple categories: time, cost, content, behavior focus, and delivery methods. Let’s explore each to see how the two options compare.

best sales training

best sales training - timeTime

While implementing off-the-shelf sales training is certainly a quicker fix than creating something custom, the results often have a much shorter shelf life. However, the longer lead time of custom solutions results in a longer lifetime for both the content and the results it delivers.

Consider this. Most off-the-shelf programs have a shelf life of roughly one year, but a custom program can often last for up to three years before needing overhauled.

best sales trainingCost

The initial price tag of off-the-shelf solutions may seem appealing when comparing it to the higher up-front cost of custom sales training. However, off-the-shelf training programs typically come with recurring subscription and licensing fees, meaning that over time, your total expense is likely to meet or exceed that of the custom option.

A huge benefit of custom sales training is you’ll own the training outright, meaning you aren’t subject to those recurring costs. 

best training contentContent

One-size-fits-all becomes one-size-fits-none as your company’s culture, values, business model, products, and services aren’t considered with an off-the-shelf solution.

Custom training, in contrast, is built specifically for your organization’s requirements, solving for your unique challenges and identifying opportunities for your improvement.

best sales training behaviorsBehavior Focus

While there is no denying that skill can take you far in the world of sales, not all team members are natural-born sellers. Sales behaviors, though, can be taught and refined—making them a critical tool for developing and enhancing your team’s performance while improving customer experience and positively impacting your bottom line.

Whereas custom training is created to specifically address this training opportunity, the limits of off-the-shelf content often mean they’re unable to address the concept at all.

best sales training deliveryDelivery Methods

What is the reaction you’re aiming for when you unveil your sales training? Is it a “Wow!” or a “Why bother?” If you’re looking for the former, custom is the way to go.

By integrating modern delivery methods (think videos, interactivity, social learning, etc.), custom training is able to generate higher levels of engagement and satisfaction than the outdated options deployed in off-the-shelf solutions.

Here’s A Quick Summary

Bottom Line: The time to build and higher up-front cost of custom sales training is worth the investment. Implementing a solution tailored for your organization and team means a lower lifetime cost, longer shelf-life for the material, an opportunity to train for better sales behaviors, and a more engaged audience eager to advance their careers.

We’ve spent years creating custom sales training for our clients. Every solution we turn out is tailored toward their individual needs. Connect with our team today to see what we can do to build the very best sales training for your team.


About the Author

Brian Leach As Unboxed's CEO, Brian oversees new business development, partnerships, client engagement, and the strategic direction for Unboxed. He has nearly 30 years of retail industry expertise, serving in multiple roles that focused on improving the customer experience. He loves spending time with his family, cooks like he’s the next Iron Chef, and enjoys a good bike ride whenever he can hit the open road.


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