Are Training Binders Killing Company Sales?

Three out of four sales reps are doing it wrong.

According to a study from Objective Management Group, 6% of salespeople are great at selling. Another 20% are doing well but could improve. A whopping 74% are flat out failing.

The number seems astounding, until you remember that there aren’t currently any higher education programs dedicated strictly to sales. The full burden of producing and fostering a successful sales team lies almost entirely within company training.

In today’s competitive business environment, having a competent sales team that embodies your brand and delivers new clients is imperative. If yours isn’t performing, one culprit may be largely to blame: your sales training binders.

The traditional three-ring binder training manual has been around since the stapler, and while it has served its time as a hub of information for years, it’s not cut out for the modern sales process. Here’s why you should kiss that sales binder goodbye.

There’s too much information to retain

Consumers and clients are better educated and more empowered about purchasing decisions now than they have ever been. In fact, chances are they have already looked up your company online before your sales team has sent the first email or made the first phone call. When the potential client has your company info at her fingertips, it’s critical that your sales team be ready to answer all questions and overcome any objections she might have. That requires a hefty knowledge base.

No matter how important the information, expecting your sales team to retain and then apply that information weeks or months after a traditional training session is unrealistic and expensive. Instead, they should to be able to access the facts and figures they need on tap, without leafing through hundreds of pages of unrelated content.

The sales binder requires frequent updates

Need to spotlight a new feature? That’s easier said than done. Updating printed manuals wastes money on expensive printing and collating, and ensuring that everyone on your sales force is using the shiny new updated binder can be a logistical nightmare.

If reps don’t have the right information at hand, it could cost your business big time

Paper becomes outdated fast. Not only is constantly updating sales binders expensive due to printing and delivery costs, but it also risks the potential of costly human error. If a sales rep shares outdated pricing info with a prospect, you’ll likely be required to honor that price—an embarrassing and potentially expensive proposition.

Sales reps can’t customize or annotate their training materials easily

Most sales manuals don’t consider that sales reps are going to want to add personalized notes, takeaways and account details to assist them down the line. And even if these manuals do provide the whitespace, are margin notes really the best way to collect and organize this key info? Is this info interactive and sharable among the rest of the team?

A truly successful sales team is able to share knowledge openly, contributing to the overall success of the company. Real-time knowledge sharing is not a feature that sales binders traditionally offer—unless you’re an expert with paper airplanes.

Printed materials are not secure

What if your sales rep leaves his binder behind in a hotel? Printed material could quickly become an embarrassment if it gets into the wrong hands: No doubt Apple wasn’t too thrilled when Gizmodo got a copy of its “Genius Training Manual” and thoroughly mocked it in a blog post.

Time for an upgrade

It’s time to retire the sales binder and consider a better solution—mobile sales training tools.

By providing your sales force with a cloud-based content solution that they can access on any mobile device, you’re giving them the tools to professionally access “right-time information.” As part of a modern “sales enablement” strategy, you can give your sales team the training and tools that they need and will actually use.

When you move your training materials to mobile and provide your staff with ready access, you are ensuring that every employee has the tools they need for success in the moment. They are able to organize the information in a way that makes sense to them, include annotations, hide pages that may not be relevant, and even take interactive quizzes so that they can test their subject-matter knowledge.

Not only does this allow them to feel confident in the application of that knowledge, but you can feel confident knowing “just in time” information is up to date and you won’t risk any business errors from faulty or outdated content. Mobile training manuals can also be kept fully secure: Access is limited to specific people you choose.

Companies are increasingly investing in the competence and success of their employees. It’s time to consider real solutions and improve your traditional sales training model through mobile technology, and it may mean kicking the old-school manual to the curb.

To learn more about mobile sales training, download our free SiriusDecisions research brief to see how to apply the SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Mobile Adoption Model to your organization.