How to Choose a Sales Seminar

Published: 21st April 2011
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Many organisations allow all of their sales team to attend at least an annual sales training seminar. In this way the organisation continues to invest in their sales people on the basis of giving every staff member a slice of the training budget. In a sales seminar situation, skill development can not happen as they are simply too big. They are, therefore, effectively a lecture rather than real training. However, sales seminars can form a useful tool in the motivation of the sales team. But if you just send everyone to the seminar without examining the real success of your investment, you may well be wasting your training budget.

The large number of seminars on offer, especially in the field of selling makes it particularly difficult to do a quality-based selection. As a sales manager responsible for the further training of your sales people, you know how this wealth of choice makes the selection of an appropriate seminar even more difficult. Monitoring the effectiveness of the seminar as a sales training tool should not, therefore, just be a slogan for you.

Before you post off your application form for the seminar tickets, ask yourself the following questions:

Where do we stand? Where does the sales person to be trained stand?

Then formulate the training objective and the need from the point of view of the sales person you intend to send to the seminar.

The right choice of seminar is crucial. The acid test of how effective a particular seminar was in training your sales people is in the amount of implementation the do afterwards of what was learnt during the seminar. You need to be able to judge the quality of the seminar and the presenters from your own experience. This is a key measure of the quality of the seminar as a sales training event.

Every training measure consists of three steps: planning/preparation, implementation and evaluation. Try using the following check list to sound out seminar offers systematically for potential success (failure) factors in order to avoid your choice becoming a waste of money.

1. Planning/preparation:

Which target group is the seminar directed at? Does the seminar have a concrete subject? Is the seminar a suitable forum for treating this subject? Do your sales people meet the criteria for entry to the seminar? How much does the seminar cost? Where is the seminar going to take place? How much are the hidden costs, such as accomodation, meals etc. What payment options are available? What is the discount for multiple registrations? What about processing fees? What are the possibilities for pulling out - and what will that cost you? Who is hosting the seminar? What are the sponsor's goals? What do you know about the speakers and what do you expect from them (education, training, experience, reputation)? What specialist areas are they well known for? What alternatives does the supplier of the seminar offer in reserve (in case a key speaker drops out because of lack of registered delegates, sickness, etc..)? Which alternative speakers does the seminar holder have lined up?

2. Implementation

What condition are the seminar rooms in? What is the service like during the seminar (food, drink, accommodation)? What rest areas have been laid on for relaxation? What technical aids and devices are being used? Are summary notes of the seminar provided? How much of a practical base is assured - ie how strongly oriented towards business requirements is the seminar? At what points are there possibilities to exchange experience and information?

3. Evaluation

Is there someone you and your sales people can talk to about the seminar afterwards? What evaluation possibilities are there? How easily can your sales people transfer what they have learnt in their personal field? What is the best way for your sales people to demonstrate what they have learnt? Which contacts, networking opportunites has the seminar opened up for your sales people?

Whilst a well chosen seminar can be used as part of the training mix be careful of selecting a seminar as a cheap option for sales training. Whilst you should not go over the financial limit you have set yourself, seminars that promise too much should make you suspicious. Seminars are cheaper than training for a reason!


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Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that runs management and sales training courses that improve business performance.

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