Professional Development Training: Enhancing Employee Performance

11 mins

Discover the importance of professional development for sales organisations, and how it empowers your workforce with this expert guide from Pareto.

Professional development training has a marked effect on the performance of sales staff, with data from the Brevet Group showing representatives which receive continuous training achieve 50% higher net sales than their peers who do not receive this training.

At the same time, a study of almost 500 sales specialists found that providing coaching and professional development skills training led to increasingly positive attitudes and higher levels of staff motivation, correlating with higher rates of deal closure and revenue generation. In short, an investment in professional development courses in the UK sales environment—and elsewhere, for that matter—directly translates to enhanced employee performance. But how is this the case? 

In this guide, we’ll answer one of the questions we most commonly receive: "what is professional development training, and why is professional development important for sales organisations?”. After we’ve taken a deep dive into each of these subjects, we’ll turn our attention to how professional development training can empower your workforce, highlighting some of the courses, apprenticeships, and methodologies that will impart the in-demand skills you need to maintain your competitive position in the marketplace. 

What Is Professional Development Training?

Professional development training focuses on imparting workforces with the skills and competencies they need to realise their potential—and drive revenue generation—in a specific field or industry. These courses impart practical and technical skills, such as telephone manner for outbound-focused sales roles or data analysis for sales forecasting, as well as the ‘soft’, transferable skills that are crucial to customer relationship management, such as communication, negotiation, or consultation. 

For professional development courses in the UK, these courses will typically be facilitated and delivered by an organisation on the UK government’s Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR), which replaced the previous Register of Approved Training Providers (RoATP) in August 2023. 

These programmes will typically split trainees' time between the classroom and the workplace, ensuring that they’re putting their research into the latest techniques and methodologies into immediate practice. When this approach accompanies a wider shift towards a learning and development-focused culture within an organisation, it has been shown to raise knowledge-retention rates by 30–50%, helping to ensure that your staff are able to continue to place their theoretical study within the context of your unique business problems. 

As time has gone on, these training providers have started to develop bespoke offerings which look to assess your entire workforce, beginning from a foundation of understanding inefficient processes before inspiring change in staff at all levels through rigorous training in the latest sales methodologies, toolkits, and management and coaching techniques. 

Why is Professional Development Important for Sales Organisations?

Now that we’ve answered the question of “what is professional development,” we can look in more detail at the second-most common we receive, namely: “why is professional development important for sales-focused organisations?”

1. Reducing Staff Turnover

Effective professional development courses in the UK often highlight that they’re effective at reducing staff turnover, but how do they achieve this stated aim? 

In short, providing professional development training has been shown to boost staff morale and increase employee loyalty. Around 76% of employees are looking for opportunities for career growth, whilst a 2021 Forbes article notes that 94% of respondents to a LinkedIn survey are more likely to stay with a company for longer if that organisation invests in their skills and competencies. 

At the same time, with sales teams struggling more than ever with attrition and turnover, professional development training offers the opportunity for organisations to produce leaders who are shaped to address the unique pain points that they face—enabling business leaders to easily engage in succession planning and ensure that staff are recognised for their contributions.

2. Minimising the Need to Hire New Talent

By providing ongoing opportunities for professional development skills training, you can add new competencies to your business, reducing the likelihood that you’ll have to hire outside talent to address shifting consumer demands or emerging technologies. 

From change management to data analysis, you can provide your staff with the in-demand techniques you need to remain relevant and competitive within the increasingly dynamic and fast-paced market. Investing in your current employees’ skills allows you to realise their potential and adapt to the ever-changing nature of sales roles.

This means that you don’t run the risk of placing a bad hire which later moves on due to poor fit—which typically costs around 30% of that candidate’s first-year salary for entry and mid-level roles, and much more for senior and executive-level employees. 

3. Increasing Revenue

As a result of providing expert professional development training, your staff will increase their revenue-generation opportunities by enabling them to target high-value leads and move them through the sales funnel at a quicker pace, helping them to reach and surpass their targets and close more business. 

Teams with strong sales competencies, honed through a L&D-enhanced focus on their professional development skills, typically outperform their competitors who lack this training. On average, providing your staff with training in customer success, presenting, and creative thinking leads to a 353% return on investment—or around £3.63 profit for every £0.80 spent—profits which are generally realised by improved results over a three to six month period, according to a LinkedIn Pulse study.

4. Speeding Up the Onboarding Process

For those organisations that continue to want to bring fresh talent on board, providing professional development training can help to attract the right candidates, enhancing your employer value proposition whilst at the same time quickly getting new hires up-to-speed with internal processes and technologies. 

It can take a new sales rep an average of three to five months to begin generating an impactful amount of revenue. By providing access to professional development skills—enhancing their confidence, empowering them in interactions with key accounts and qualified leads, and allowing them to keep competitive with critical and creative approaches to sales—can help reduce the length of time it takes them to become effective and succeed. 

5. Aligning Team Efforts with Organisational Goals

Professional development courses in the UK will, as we’ve mentioned, typically encourage trainees to bring real business problems with them to the classroom. 

This ensures that all of the programmes delivered to your employees will help address your unique pain points. Whether they’re struggling to close a high-value deal, or they’re addressing the problem of stale leads, sales training will empower them to reach out to customers, negotiate with greater confidence, and give them the tools they need to produce the innovative solutions demanded by an otherwise crowded marketplace. 

By emphasising goal-setting and targeted attitudes and sales behaviours, professional development skills providers can help your sales teams to make certain that all of their efforts are aligned with your business’s urgent needs and long-term vision, leading to a more strategic approach to their work which is guided by your—and by association their—company’s success. 

It’s clear that the answer to the question of “Why is professional development important?” requires multiple responses, but as we’ve hopefully been able to elaborate, learning and development initiatives such as these can enhance an organisation’s competitiveness and ability to retain staff by a large degree. 

By ensuring that your staff have access to professional development training, you can incentivise their long-term career development, helping them to see a future with your organisation whilst at the same time producing an agile, adaptable workforce that’s prepared to face the issues that will face sales-focused businesses as we move into the decade and towards the 2030s. 

If you’re interested in learning more about professional development skills and how they can empower your employees’ productivity and performance, see our recent guide on How to Find Apprenticeship Training Providers for your Business for a closer look at how you can connect with learning and development-focused organisations in your industry. 

How Professional Development Training Empowers Your Workforce

We’ve seen some of the general ways in which professional development training can enhance an organisation’s culture, ability to attract and retain talent, and generate more revenue, ultimately driving profitability and productivity, but you may still want to ask how, specifically, professional development programmes can enhance a workforce that’s already performing well, or only has a slight need for improvement.

In this section, we’ll look in some more detail at how professional development courses in the UK can specifically empower your workforce, focusing on the three key areas of customer acquisition and retention, presentation and pitching, and creative thinking. 

Professional Development Training for Customer Success

A course in customer success helps your salespeople understand how to drive engagement with external and internal customers, enabling them to forecast how different approaches to communication will enhance their ability to sell.

By mapping the client journey through professional development training, you’ll empower your salespeople to recognise the purpose of their role—inspiring them to understand precisely why it is that they’re offering your product or service, and how they will help to solve the most challenging of your customers’ pain points. 

The advantage is that they’ll be able to better handle objections and convert leads into loyal accounts by taking control of conversations, qualifying their needs, and setting clear next steps to deliver successful outcomes. 

Professional Development Training for Presenting

Presentation training is crucial for long-term success in almost every sales career. Knowing how to wow clients and head off objections in your pitch with deep product knowledge and storytelling competency ensures that you’ll drive conversions and revenue generation. 

Through building professional development skills in crafting compelling messages, confidently taking questions and managing discussions, and understanding the technical aspects of presenting—such as spoken pace, pitch, and volume—they’ll tap into the psychological impetus behind how your customers and prospects retain and recall information. 

By encouraging your staff to master their voice, you can refine their ability to capture and hold attention, ultimately empowering them to sell your product or service more effectively. 

Professional Development Training for Creative Thinking Skills

Solving the business challenges of the present day demands innovative approaches. As a result, training in creative and critical thinking can be an ideal way to enhance the performance of any employee tasked with creating value within your organisation. 

Many professional development courses in the UK will empower your staff to think deeply about the direction and long-term strategy they’re bringing to bear on your pain points, helping them to implement new ideas that will enable your company to remain competitive in the face of fluctuating consumer demands. 

With a bespoke course of professional development, your salespeople will be imparted with effective project management skills and the ability to work closely with internal and external decision-makers to drive engagement and conversion and understand how to use the latest technologies to track and measure their success.

Closing Remarks

Professional development training has emerged as a powerful catalyst for elevating employee performance within sales organisations over the last decade. Continuous learning and development initiatives have been shown to boost net sales, foster positive attitudes, and increase motivation, ultimately leading to higher levels of revenue generation. 

Acquiring both practical and soft skills is important in today’s workplace. Professional development courses in the UK, facilitated by government-approved organisations, help bridge the gap between theory and practice by immersing your staff in real-world scenarios, where they’ll bring the latest techniques to your business challenges. 

Alongside these benefits, professional development yields a number of other benefits for sales-focused organisations: helping to curb staff turnover through the fuelling of career growth opportunities, mitigating the need for external hires—and speeding up the process of onboarding new recruits if you so choose—as well as helping employees in all departments to align with the organisation’s urgent needs and long-term vision. 

This form of training is not merely a buzzword, but a strategic imperative in an uncertain economic climate. It helps drive staff commitment, minimises recruitment overheads, and ensures your staff are prepared to enhance the customer journey. As the economic landscape continues to evolve, investing in learning and development opportunities for your employees remains a cornerstone for sustainable success.

Expert Professional Development Courses in the UK and Beyond

At Pareto, our specialist consultants have been providing bespoke professional development courses in the UK for over 25 years, and with our offices in the US and ability to deliver programmes virtually, we can provide organisations with a global reach. We’ve assisted over 120,000 sales professionals in realising their potential during this time, and the businesses we partner with typically see a 93% performance uplift following our training interventions, ensuring their ability to remain profitable and productive within a competitive market. 

If you’d like to learn more about our professional development skills training services, contact us today to discuss your needs. 

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