Choosing Between a One-Size-Fits-All vs. a Tailored Training Approach

November 27, 2018 | Melody Astley

Every year corporations spend hundreds of hours and millions of dollars on training for their sales team. Unfortunately, when not planned out properly, those lessons might only amount to a marginal increase in close rates. It’s the responsibility of the trainer to prepare a framework that can empower the sales team to process, apply, and adopt the new information.

What is the best approach for doing this? How does a trainer choose between hosting a general sales session or a more specialized one? They start by examining the nuanced differences between the two approaches and learn to integrate them both into a single, cohesive training system.

Key Distinctions

Before you can decide which methods to use, let’s take a look at the overall fundamental differences between them:  

One-Size-Fits-All Training Program

These are your large-scale training sessions. Think training during your annual meeting or onboarding a new team member. Usually, sales managers and VPs produce a single, standardized training course meant for the entire sales organization.

  • Pros: A lower cost alternative to an individualized training approach. It’s also scalable with minimal impact on cost.
  • Cons: Since the training materials cover the broadest possible audience, it might not provide enough depth for your more specialized or experienced team members. This approach can’t effectively support all of the various learning styles.

Tailored Training Program

A training program designed to meet the specific needs of distinct roles or individuals within your sales team.

  • Pros: A personalized approach increases the likelihood that the salesperson retains and adopts the material.
  • Cons: Providing one-to-one training for all members of your sales team can be cost prohibitive and time-consuming.

Key Considerations

When selecting the preferred training style, be sure to keep the following considerations top of mind.

Consideration 1: Understand Your Team’s Different Learning Styles

Not everyone learns and retains new information in the same way. Take stock of your sales team and spend some time analyzing their preferred learning styles.

As a quick note, there are four fundamental ways people learn:

  • Auditory learners take in information via sound. Use lectures, audiobooks or even songs for this group.
  • Kinesthetic learners take in information via doing. This is your “hands-on” group.
  • Verbal learners take in information via verbal communication and conversation. This group excels in roleplay where they can “talk it through.”
  • Logical learners take in information by solving problems and figuring things out on their own. This group works well with a “to-do” list or a sequenced checklist.

If the majority of your sales team learns the same way, then you can consider leaning toward a one-size-fits-all approach. Otherwise, consider offering a wider variety of training material formats to accommodate these various learners.

Consideration 2: The Skill Sets of Your Trainees

Are you training baby boomers or millennials? Before selecting your team’s training approach, be sure to consider the age and experience level of the team.

The more experienced might benefit from a more traditional training format (especially if they’ve received similar training for most of their career). With a long career of success and in-field action, they also tend to grasp new materials quicker than their less experienced counterparts.

A younger sales team, on the other hand, might benefit from a longer or more intense training session to fully understand and apply the materials. Younger sales teams may also be more comfortable with using technology to support their sales training.

Consideration 3: Review Your Training Budget

As we stated earlier, your allocated training budget can have a huge impact on the type of training you can offer. One-size-fits-all training programs tend to be less expensive to implement than a personalized approach. 

Consideration 4: Determine Your Subject Matter

When deciding on your approach, keep in mind the subject matter of your training materials. Are you providing detailed training on an advanced sales tactic or conducting a general onboarding session to a new sales team that has never seen a prospect list before?

  • General Training Sessions: Ideal for a broader one-size fits all training session. These educational sessions tend to focus on the nuts-and-bolts of selling, your organization's selling process, or the general sales cycle. Sales organizations tend to use general training sessions to introduce a new product, process, or technology to the sales team.
  • Specialized Training Sessions: As your sales team grows, specialized training sessions provide them with additional tools and tactics they can use to improve their close rates.

Consideration 5:  Ensure Post Training Adoption

Practice makes perfect. Whether you opt for a general mass-training approach or offer one-to-one sessions, be sure to include an adoption plan as part of your training process.

Ideally, your sales team should immediately begin practicing the materials learned during their training session. Make sure to clean up any confusion or address any lingering questions from the session. Clarity and repetition are key factors in ensuring your sales team both adopts and retains their new training information.

Find the Right Sales Training Program

Whether you’re starting from the ground up or looking to refresh your current program, it’s imperative that you find a training system that works for your entire organization. Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match training styles to drive sales success.

Are you interested in learning more about how to find the right sales training program? Check out our customized education plans.