At the core of every successful sales organization is a high-quality sales team training strategy. It allows new hires to hit the ground running and make an impact right away. At the same time, it can help your sales vets stay sharp and keep up with evolving industry practices.
A well-executed sales team training program can improve your company’s performance in many ways, but what exactly are the elements that make it effective? Every organization is different, and within it are unique individuals with different needs and predispositions. So when it comes to sales team training ideas, there is no such thing as one size fits all.
There are a few fundamental principles that can help you come up with a customized approach to building a competent sales team.
1.Understand Your Team’s Strengths and Failings
Whether you are managing a team of one or a team of 100, one thing is for sure: they have their own strengths and weaknesses. You must keep this in mind when you put together your sales training process.
While you try to understand what makes your sales team tick, there are a few basic questions that you need to ask. Can they explain your company’s value proposition? Is there a clear sales process for them to follow? Do you have the right people to begin with? If the answer to all of them is yes, then you are off to a good start.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you will continue to ask these and other similar questions from time to time. Consumer behavior changes and your sales efforts must change along with it if you want to remain relevant or stay ahead of the competition.
2.Learn About Your Customers’ Pain Points
While your ultimate goal is to close every sale, “selling” should not be the only tool in your shed. Your reps must also try to understand what the customer’s pain points are. Doing this will give them a good idea of how to come up with the right pitch and allow them to successfully present your products or services as the solution.
That is why when you are training a sales team, you must include active listening and observing. Enhancing these skills will allow your reps to diagnose what obstacles potential customers are facing. From there, they can come up with ways to help the clients remove the barriers.
3.Customize Your Training Program
When it comes to sales team training, you need to forget about stereotypes. Not all millennials prioritize working for sustainable companies, and not all boomers have an aversion to digital technology.
Once you realize that every individual is exactly that — an individual — only then will you understand the importance of creating sales team training activities tailored to the way each of your rep works and learns. There are several ways to deliver your training program, depending on your team’s preferred method. One is by using a digital coaching platform that can be accessed using a laptop, smartphone, or any compatible device. The biggest advantage of this method is that you can deliver it to all trainees when they need it and where they need it.
Another method is just-in-time learning through one-on-one coaching, which either you or your rep can initiate. Whatever method you use, make sure that it meets the individual needs of your sales agents.
4.Combine Training Modules with Face-to-Face Training
In the process of customizing your training program, there is a good chance that you will have to use a combination of one-on-one training and training modules. This approach is especially effective for new hires but can also be applied to experienced reps.
To illustrate, an effective onboarding process can involve a week of using pre-training modules combined with corporate training. After this, you can let the trainees spend two weeks learning about procedure-based techniques. In a few months, you can follow this up with more intensive training activities that would involve one-on-one interactions. The exact training process can change from organization to organization, but one thing is for sure: you would need to use more than one training method to be effective.
5.Be Consistent with Your Training Activities
While your sales training method should be diverse, you should be consistent about delivering it. Make sure that you meet with your reps regularly to track their progress. You can also use this opportunity to understand what works and what doesn’t.
The frequency of these meetings can range from weekly to monthly, depending on how much progress your team is making and how much information you are getting out of the conversations. As much as possible, try to come up with a general training guideline based on the data you gather. You can use it to evaluate if the next salesperson is getting the right training.
6.Merge Youth with Experience
There is no doubt that training modules, one-on-one sessions, and even manuals are necessary for a sales rep to be successful, but the experience is equally important. Training materials can provide the fundamental theories, but nothing beats exposure to real-life situations when it comes to building capability.
However, not all new hires will be eager or even willing to dive headfirst and face a customer by themselves. A good compromise is to assign seasoned sales reps to mentor the less experienced agents. Watching a sales vet in action is the closest that your younger employees can get to being in the actual situation, and it presents a significant learning opportunity.
7.Don’t Be Afraid to Hire Outside Consultants
If your organization is expanding fast, your sales team will also get bigger. It is possible for this development to outgrow your capabilities as a manager. If you find yourself in this situation, do not be afraid to bring in an outside consultant. Hiring an expert or specialist will help convince your team to buy into the training process.
The Endless Cycle of Learning
Sales training is like an endless circle of learning, relearning, and even unlearning, not only for your sales team but also for you as their leader. This is because new techniques emerge from time to time as technology advances, consumer behavior evolves, and the market landscape changes. To ensure that your sales team remains on top, always keep an eye out for the latest developments in industry best practices.