Sales training doesn’t end after onboarding, yet after initial training, salespeople are usually left to figure things out on their own. Requiring continuous training and guidance ensures salespeople remain successful. Ongoing training is critical in sales because the market and the customer are constantly changing. Creating a continuous learning environment ensures your salespeople are keeping up with the demand. With nearly 13% of all jobs in the US being full-time sales positions, the demand for these positions will only increase. Here are some ways to create an ongoing training process for your salespeople throughout their employment.
Most Organizations are spending substantially more on technology now than two years ago. Scheduling ongoing training, such as quarterly mandatory sessions, will help you identify the skills your sales reps might be lacking. Identifying these issues allows you to support your team and enhance their skill set. Your team leads should be able to identify what area their team is struggling with, such as, closing deals, but may not be able to identify why. When you start to ask questions, you may realize you don’t need training on closing, for example. You may need training on buyer alignment instead. There should be a reasonable procedure in place for ramp-up times for this to get underway.
To do their jobs well, ongoing training for reps is essential, but it shouldn’t end there. Everyone should be a part of the process; managers, leaders and reps. Technology is always changing, and the marketplace is saturated with more knowledgeable buyers every day. Ask your sales team what are the daily challenges they face. Continuous training gives 50% higher net sales per employee, but you won’t always see the effect of sales training right away. The fact that it is so difficult to measure is the reason so many sales leaders doubt its effectiveness. Investing in your salespeople will only have a positive effect on your company, even if it may be some time before seeing the effects of it.
Sharing Success Stories
Sales reps need to share their success stories and the resources they used, so others can learn from them and also be successful. When your existing salespeople share their success stories with their peers this allows for a more productive learning environment and encourages people to try things, they may not have been willing to or even thought of before. Sharing ideas allows for different sales approaches to come together and use each other as resources. Salespeople revealed more than half rely on their peers to get tips for improvement. 44 % looked to their manager, 35% to team training resources, and 24 % to media.
Your sales reps know how to pitch and make sales, but ensuring they are up to date on product knowledge is going to prepare them better for when customers want to understand how products work. Customers are becoming savvier and will have several questions before investing in a product. They need to be able to sell the appropriate product to the right customer at the correct time. Your reps cannot sell products successfully without knowing how they work.
Create a Clear Career Path
Providing your salespeople with a clear career path is a great way to ensure enthusiastic salespeople continue to boost their careers. Considering only 41.7% rate their job as just good, providing a clear career path for your newcomers is important. This will not only show them what your organization expects of them, but it is also excellent motivation for them to succeed.
Regularly connecting with your staff to see how committed they are, and asking them about their future with you, can be a strong way to create continuous training plans. Ask questions, such as, “where do you see yourself next year?’ to figure out what areas they need training in. If you have quarterly meetings with your salespeople, this allows you to see what is successful and what isn’t. Ongoing training provides you with the opportunity to change direction completely or just make a few small tweaks here or there.
Salespeople spend just one-third of their day actually talking to prospects. They spend 21% of their day writing emails, 17% entering data, another 17% prospecting and researching leads, 12% going to internal meetings, and 12% scheduling calls.
Provide Coaching for Your Reps
Salespeople are continuously looking for coaching on what to say. Conversations in meetings are tricky and the sales reps need to know what insights to display, what stories to share and how to make themselves stand out. Salespeople should be trying to spark a discussion, not avoiding one because they don’t have the answers. It takes 10 months or more for new sales reps to be productive. If new training practices are not effective this can become an expensive problem for many sales companies. Creating a blended learning approach can help speed up sales rep productivity. ELearning is one way that allows salespeople to finish their training at their leisure. Your salespeople could also utilize in-app notes to record their ideas to apply to their dialogue
Provide a Variety of Learning Tools
Having your salespeople create their playbooks allows them to gather information and figure out how to best research for new opportunities. In their playbook, they would include such things as how to connect, share insights and obtain information from peer success stories. Salespeople thrive on being able to incorporate somebody else’s ideas and implement them into their plans.
Incorporating different training styles, target what groups need certain training in specific areas. There are certain training sessions that everyone should take, such as bribery prevention and security awareness. However, you don’t want people to feel like they are wasting their time by offering the same training they’ve seen countless times before. Sales enablement tool usage is up 567% since last year. Separate training for different skill and experience levels seems to be the most beneficial. Salespeople tend to enjoy their job more when they are spending more time on sales-related activities. People who spend 3 hours or less on sales-related activities have an overall job satisfaction rating of 3.4 out of 5, whereas people who spend 4 hours or more on these same activities rated their job satisfaction higher at 3.8.
Tailoring training by region is also something worth considering. What works in America, might not be as well-received in East Asia. One group may be more reserved than the other, therefore requiring a bit more coaxing when it comes to sharing ideas.
The key to ongoing training is to offer different approaches, such as live training, video training, collaboration, and role-play as various ways of learning. While baby boomers and older Gen-Xers are more receptive to classroom training, everyone responds well to a variety of different learning approaches. It’s important to ensure training sessions are fun and engaging without putting someone in an uncomfortable spot. What works for one specific group may not work for another, so it’s important to hold focus groups to plan. The average company spends 10K- 15k on hiring an individual and only 2K a year on sales training. Sales training is now a must for new salespeople. If you hire great people to be successful, you need to invest in that success.
By giving your salespeople the resources, they need, they are more prepared for surprises they may encounter in the field. When your onboarding class is moving out into the field, it may be a good idea to provide them with daily gamified quizzes in either text or video format to keep them engaged. This is simple to do and can be easily done while they are on their lunch break. This is empowering because it pushes people to strive for excellence. Today’s technologies and algorithms are capable enough to change up the next set of questions based on how we answer the first one and so on. This ensures everyone is on the road to excellence but also focuses on the areas of assistance that each individual needs.
Being Heard, Seen and Acknowledged
Certification does assist in knowledge recognition and is an excellent motivator. While knowledge is essential in sales, skills are more valuable since AI is becoming a bigger part of the sales process. As salespeople gain more experience, that skill set becomes more valuable when they are face to face. Coaching and feedback from peers are extremely helpful with this. 55% of the people making their living in sales don’t have the right skills to be successful. This isn’t about your salespeople’s lack of talent, but more about how most organizations do not recognize the need to enable sales reps with the right tools to be successful. A few of the many things worth acknowledging are ensuring you have a defined sales process, that people are sharing their best practices and ensuring your managers are coaching their reps.
Mandating that your coaches hold coaching sessions is essential in ensuring your sales team is successful. This expectation should be clear and begin with your managers at the hiring stage. Make sure they know these expectations and you should make them sign off on them. Your new managers should be spending 50% of their time coaching. It must start at the top and once your reps see value in it then you will begin to see results. It’s also important to let your team voice their opinions and offer suggestions on what they think would work. If one person is seeing results and another isn’t, they need to find out why.
Give your sales reps and managers playbooks and sales kits, then follow that up with videos of role-play coaching sessions so they know exactly what you expect of them. It’s important to show managers what a coaching session should look like, so they can understand exactly what is meant by coaching their reps and not just talking to them. Equip sales leaders with insight into where their team is daily, instead of waiting until viewing the periodic reports.
Involve everyone in the process, not just sales. Have a sales enablement council to discuss ways to provide your salespeople with the tools they need to become successful. It’s about training your people with the knowledge, then enabling them with the skills to implement that knowledge. All departments need to be on the same page regarding strategy and company growth. Since over one trillion dollars are spent annually on the sales force, it’s become noticeable that many businesses are placing more focus on their sales teams. Company culture and management effectiveness matter most to salespeople.