Do you like your job?
It’s a simple question. But when people are honest with themselves, it always gets complicated answers.
Maybe you like your job now, but couldn’t see yourself doing it forever. Maybe you like your coworkers, but wish you had more responsibility or better pay. Or maybe you like your boss and the work environment, but wish you had different job tasks.
Your current job probably feels safe. You get a steady paycheck. You know what your responsibilities are. After all, you made it through the onboarding process, and you’re still around.
If you’re in a sales role, you’ve probably studied your company’s products, landed some customers, and worked on building long-term relationships. You’ve learned a lot, and you’re effective!
But no matter what your job is, when you feel safe, it’s easy to stagnate.
You’ve probably found a few areas where your skills aren’t quite up to snuff. Maybe there have been product or process changes, and you haven’t stayed on top of them. Maybe your industry is experiencing a shift, but your job is in a bit of a bubble. Or maybe you’re just getting a little bit rusty.
No matter what your goals are, or where your gaps are, a little bit of extra training is always good. But how can you ask for it, without looking weak or ineffective? And how can you justify getting your employer to cover the costs?
The Importance of Professional Development
Effective businesses optimize for margins: A 2% gain here, a 1% cut there, and suddenly you’re turning a profit.
For most companies, the single largest line item is human resources. Salaries are expensive. Benefits are expensive. Payroll taxes are expensive. It all adds up.
That’s why recruiting great employees is important. But recruiting is a risk, too: Combing through resumes and interviewing candidates is time-consuming. And it can take months before you know whether you’ve actually made a bad hire. Very expensive months.
For sales reps, it usually takes 3–5 months for a new hire to ramp and become effective.
That’s why professional development is so important. Effective training helps make sure that the people you hire have the skills they need to succeed. And ongoing development lets businesses add new skills, without having to take on additional risk from making new hires.
When employers invest in continuing education, employees feel valued and motivated to excel. According to the LinkedIn Learning Report, companies who invest in training dramatically increase their retention rates: 94% of employees will stay longer in a workplace that provides educational opportunities.
More and more companies recognize the value of learning and development and are willing to dedicate a budget towards it. But staff might not always see or appreciate the investment when it takes the form of a mid-week seminar, a conference ticket, or a guest speaker—especially when they weren’t the ones who chose the format, the timing, the lessons, or the ultimate credential.
Yet when employees spend just 5 hours per week learning more about their profession, they have more clearly defined career paths, find more purpose in their work, make fewer mistakes on the job, and feel less stressed.
At tech companies, professional development isn’t just encouraged—it’s usually expected. Because if you’re not trying to get better at your job, why are you even doing it? Most tech companies have allowances for professional development—or would be willing to make them, if only a brave employee (like you!) would ask.
Professional Development in Sales
In a study of nearly 500 sales reps and leaders, The Rain Group found that training programs boosted positive attitudes and motivated staff to succeed. Not surprisingly, increased training opportunities also correlated with higher closing rates and higher earnings.
In sales, when your company invests in enhancing your skills, it places you on the path for career progression. Top performers are driven to learn, and they can expect compensation increases to match.
Whether you want to hone your skills in your current position or increase your expertise in hopes of a promotion, sales training can ignite your passion and advance your career.
Your training needs will vary depending on your employer, the types of products and services you sell, and where you are in your career:
Sales Training Opportunities
- Sales skills — Study new methodologies, or refine your knack for communication, active listening, prospecting, building relationships, negotiating contracts, handling objections, team building, and more.
- Expert knowledge — Get ahead of industry changes, and stay on top of new technology trends.
- Data analysis — Learn about metrics and benchmarks both for your product area, and for your own sales performance.
- CRM systems — Optimize your workflows, implement new features, and become a better operational asset.
- Business leadership — Develop your financial acumen, conduct effective interviews, and learn to become a people manager.
- Digital marketing and social selling — Email and telephone aren’t going anywhere. But B2B sales is changing. Can you engage potential customers across social platforms? How quickly can you create a personalized video? Is your LinkedIn profile up to snuff?
Indeed, as the world spends more time online, the universal trend towards digital sales processes is accelerating. There’s no shortage of free tools for sales professionals out there. They can help you manage your data and your pipeline. But you’ll likely need some supportive training to be able to use them efficiently.
Professional Development Resources
Everyone learns differently. The trick is to match your learning style to content that’s relevant both for the job you have now, and the job you want to have in the future.
No matter your interests and preferences, there are plenty of paid and free options for building your sales skills:
- Books, magazines, podcasts, Ted Talks, YouTube
- Free courses and webinars (like Uvaro On Demand)
- Online or in-person classes
- Sales training bootcamps
- 1:1 coaching and mentorship
According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report, in 2019, 59% of workplaces increased their budgets for online learning, while 39% spent less on face-to-face training.
How to Ask For Professional Development Help
If you’re interested in pursuing training, then you’re already invested in your role, and you’re probably performing well. Keep doing what you’re doing! Managers are more open to professional development for their top performers. They want to keep you happy!
If you’re struggling, continue trying to build positive relationships with your customers and coworkers, show that you’re working hard, and focus on achieving your core performance metrics. When it’s time to ask for supportive resources, your positive attitude will help to get the ball rolling.
Think about how your professional development will help the company. Put yourself in an executive’s shoes.
- Is the business trying to scale?
- Which skills, if you had them, would make things run more smoothly?
- Where can you improve that will have a real impact on the bottom line?
- Can your professional development be leveraged for an internal training program?
Think about your own development, too. What would it take for you to stay at the company for another three years? Do you need more confidence? More responsibility? A higher salary?
Before you draft your request, check your employee handbook, talk to your manager, and ask HR to see if there is existing budget allocated for training. It never hurts to ask. The worst thing that can happen is that they say “no.”
No matter what answer you get, use it to put together a formal request. Even a penny-pincher’s wallet can be opened by a well-structured professional development request.
What to Include in Your Training Request
Do your research. Look at ratings and reviews. Capture success stories and specific business outcomes.
Be ready to show how training support will enhance your job performance, help your team, improve competitiveness, and benefit the company. Sell the opportunity. Make it impossible for them to say no.
- Details About The Course — Include dates, times (or timelines), and location. Explain what the commitment is, and what impact it will have on your job performance.
- Why You Want It — How will it change what you do and help you to perform better?
- How It Helps The Company — Is there room for you to grow? What gaps will you fill? Can you share what you learned?
- How You’ll Justify It — Lay out an accountability plan. How will you implement what you learn? What results can you commit to in advance? What happens if it doesn’t work?
- Available Resources — Explore payment options. Training is a tax-deductible business expense. And many areas have access to additional grants and subsidies, too.
The Muse online blog has great email templates you can leverage to write a professional request.
Own Your Future
If you’re requesting a coaching or education budget, be ready to convince your superiors the sales training will be worth their while. Good employers will see value in developing and retaining great workers. Companies like Uvaro exist to fill the sales training gap for employers looking to provide reputable training for their team.
Even sales training at a premium price can bring a huge return on investment—both in commissions for you, and in revenue for the company.
So go ahead and ask for what you need. It’s your future, after all!