10 steps to redesign your sales training curriculum

Published on: February 2018

Written by: Andrew Dornon

Why your sales training curriculum matters

World class sales training curricula deliver the right content at the right time and generate the highest revenue per hour spent on training activities. It provides the right knowledge and skills that sales reps need to be productive, and eventually become great without wasting any excess time or effort. Because enablement and training organizations are frequently tasked with solving specific problems for many different leaders, the curriculum often becomes a hodgepodge of internally and vendor-created content that’s hard for the enablement function to manage, and even harder for reps to get value from.

What is a curriculum redesign?

A curriculum redesign takes ALL of your existing sales training content, programs, enablement assets and tools, and looks at them through a standardized framework based on your organization’s goals. Using this lens, curriculum is then sorted by what to keep, alter, scrap or build new. New content is generated from existing data that has proven to be successful.

How to complete a curriculum redesign

1. Clarify why you’re doing the redesign.
Your larger enterprise goal should already be clear. How is your curriculum failing to support this effort? To define your specific curriculum needs, you’ll need to form an executive steering committee, and agree to periodically update them, continually getting feedback on your progress towards the goal. All efforts moving forward should be in service of accomplishing the broader target.

2. Know what great selling looks like.
In service of your enterprise goal, you’ll need to define what great looks like at all levels of selling, sales management, and leadership to best serve your customers. Whether you’re defining great in moments of the sales cycle, or through competencies, make sure that there are no more than 7 key components. Any more and you’ll bring back the complexity of the old world.

3. Pick a curriculum model.
There are two main frameworks for developing curriculum and how you decide which one to use is based on your company culture and the sophistication of your sales people. They are:

  • Prescriptive: Give reps what they need when they need it in a linear fashion. Sales 101, then 201, then 301. The faster and more standardized your sales cycles are, the more likely you will choose this one.
  • Exploratory: Give salespeople the option of electives. Allow them to access information and let them personalize their development. This is the “choose your own adventure” model. More complex sales cycles involving executive buyers often benefit from this model.

4. Create an outline.
Regardless of the curriculum model you choose, you’ll need to map out all of the content you want to create in the next three years. It’s important to make the map now, so that you don’t end up falling back into old ways going forward.

5. Know what you have.
Gather all existing training materials, learning content, enablement assets and tools. You will probably find that you have a lot more material than you thought.

6. Sort existing content.
Align your existing content to the map and to the model of what great looks like that you have developed. You’ll quickly notice how much of the old content no longer aligns with your new strategy. It is likely that less than 20% will remain.

7. Identify the gaps.
It’s possible that much of the previous curriculum was designed to solve a problem that no longer exists. On the other hand, it is likely that you will have new goals and challenges that none of your previous content was designed to address. It’s important to see the gaps to know what you need to build.

8. Get building.
Whether your team is focused on building content, or acquiring the best content from partners, you’ll need to build it quickly. Gaps in your content arsenal will translate to wasted time on the job spent building or searching for necessary content that doesn’t exist.

9. Test it.
Form user groups and test content – at least for feedback and adoption, if not for performance improvement.

10. Deploy it at scale and iterate.
It’s time for celebration, but not time to get complacent. You’ll need to continually iterate your content based on usage and results, being constantly aware of changing strategic imperatives.

Redesigning your curriculum is essential for optimum efficiency and productivity on the job. Time spent looking for content or creating new material instead of interacting with clients is time wasted and sales lost. Having an updated, clean base of training and enablement content allows sellers, sales managers, and leaders to operate more efficiently, providing the best customer experience and producing the best results for your organization.