There is no denying that sales training is integral to the success of your sales team.
But just how important is sales training?
With proper training, your sales reps can hone in on the skills that are required to be successful and properly learn how to implement them into their work.
Unfortunately, most sales training programs fall short of sales managers’ expectations. Though companies in the United States are, according to Training Industry, dumping over $161 billion into sales team training, it seems the results rarely meet or exceed expectations in the end.
In fact, much of the training ends up being a waste of both time and money.
According to research, 87% of what people learn in a live training will be forgotten in just 30 days.
How does that make you feel about the current state of sales training?
Probably not great.
And if your company has experienced first-hand this high rate of unsuccessful training, chances are you need to restructure your sales training techniques in order to get the greatest return on investment.
With some planning, you can develop a customized sales training program for your company that ensures your salespeople gain and retain the information they need, and provides them with a way to practically implement the strategies they learn.
When your salespeople are able to properly utilize a strong training program, you will see some major improvements in your company overall.
So how can you bridge the gap between your current sales training and an effective training program that will actually improve your sales team?
Continue reading to discover the keys to improving your sales training so you can put an end to wasting your time, your salespeople’s time and your money on profitless training.
13 Techniques Every Sales Manager Needs to Improve Sales Training
To create the most successful sales team training, here are some techniques that every Sales VP or Sales Manager needs to implement today.
1. Keep it short
Just like anyone else, your salespeople cannot retain great amounts of information given to them at one time.
Though you may be eager to give them all the tools and information they need for success at once, doing this runs the risk of overloading them.
In turn, this renders your sales training highly ineffective.
Rather, opt for what is referred to as “micro-learning,” which means more frequent, shorter training sessions.
Because the average person cannot hold their attention for longer than 20 minutes, many sales training programs are adopting the concept of 30-minute training sessions that happen over a three-month time period, as opposed to one 6-hour intensive session.
These shorter training sessions help to keep the topic consistently on your sales reps’ minds, and allows them the space and energy to retain more information in the long-run.
2. Make it interesting
Everyone has sat through a painfully boring PowerPoint presentation and wished they were somewhere else. This causes them to lose focus and miss any important takeaways from your company’s sales training.
To improve sales training, find ways to engage your sales reps that will make this a valuable and memorable experience for them.
Incorporate interactive activities into your training, including quizzes, role playing, group discussions and possibly relevant games.
Instead of sitting them down and having someone talk at them, allow them to interact with the training every few minutes. This will guarantee their attention stays more focused, and that they hold on to more of the information you are sharing.
3. Provide multiple options for learning
More and more companies today are saying “goodbye” to the concept of sending an entire sales team off to advanced sales training in one big group.
There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that it halts your company’s entire sales process for as long as the training lasts.
Furthermore, because there are many styles of learning, many companies have also found a major benefit in diversifying the way their training is delivered to their salespeople.
I. Online training
With the busy lives people lead today, chances are rare that you can find a time and a place that fits everyone’s schedule to conduct your professional sales training. Instead, make the training convenient and accessible at different times, and on different platforms. This ensures all your sales reps gain access to the training and can all benefit equally from the information, even if they cannot make it to one specific meeting.
One of the best ways to do that is by providing your sales team with online training. Your sales reps can schedule their training during times that are optimal for them, rather than dropping everything to rush to an in-person training at an inconvenient time.
In addition, online sales training allows reps to move at their own pace and brush up on information on the go.
Podcasts, videos and emails are top options for delivering information in manageable bites to your sales reps.
II. In-field training
While providing online training to your reps is a must, it is also necessary to take the time to do some in-field training with your reps.
There is only so much they can learn from online lectures and readings. And for sales training to be effective, your salespeople need to actually go out into the field and apply the training strategies they had been taught.
The best way that you can be sure they are getting the most out of training is by joining them on their sales calls or face-to-face meetings.
By watching them apply the lessons they learned, you will be able to see the effectiveness of the professional sales training.
But most importantly, you will be able to analyze your reps’ work and provide immediate feedback after a sales call.
By observing their interactions with actual sales leads and sharing your analysis of the rep’s performance with them, you both stand to gain a great deal.
This is a great opportunity for you to help your reps improve their pitches and their closings, which, as you know, are both key parts of the sales process.
III. Mobile Training
Many companies have started to implement mobile-friendly training to improve their sales teams.
As you know, salespeople are spending more time on their phones every day, and most are using their phones to conduct business in some form.
As a result, mobile sales platforms have become a great way to bring training to your reps anytime, anywhere.
4. Do not forget about the millennials
Projections show that by 2020, millennials will make up 46% of working professionals in the United States.
So, it is in your best interest to ensure the training you have for your company takes into consideration the learning styles and the behaviors of this generation.
This includes things such as:
- Higher level of comfort with technology
- Different communication preferences
- More independent thinking
By changing your sales training to suit this generation of salespeople, your company will continue to evolve and become more effective.
5. Be specific with your content
The best way for your salespeople to remember their training is to make it relevant to your particular product or service.
Though some parts of training may inevitably be general, you want your training content to be as specific as possible. This way, your sales team can start applying their lessons into their sales process immediately.
6. Communicate expectations
A crucial part of basic sales training is to clearly communicate what your company expects of each salesperson.
The ideal way to do this is to schedule a meeting with each rep during the training process and talk with them one-on-one about what you are requiring of them.
To help them stay focused on the target set forth for them, hand them a paper with these expectations written out or send an email with these expectations, so that they can refer back to it at any time.
7. Provide scripts
Giving your salespeople scripts is a great way to prepare them for different situations they may experience in their calls.
You want to be careful that you do not create scripts that are too detailed, and that your salesperson will simply end up reading off of during a call. After all, no one likes receiving a sales pitch that sounds like it is read off a cue card.
Instead, provide necessary information and ways to get past common objections in an outline that will leave room for your salespeople to input creativity and personality into the call.
Here are a few topics that you want to be sure are covered in your sales training:
- How to cold call
- How to cold email
- How to be an active listener
- How to solve problems
- How to communicate value to potential customers
- How to close
- How to track prospects
- How to acquire prospects
By specifically covering each major part of the sales process, you can be sure there is no confusion among your salespeople on how to handle some of the most common issues they will inevitably experience. This also helps to create a more uniformed process amongst your entire sales team.
8. Create a buddy system
Joining a sales team as a newbie can be quite overwhelming. New team members, new expectations, new tasks and a lot of new information to learn.
Not only is all of this overwhelming, it is also intimidating.
You can help rid some of the newbie’s concerns by pairing an experienced member of your sales team with a new one.
Because the more senior salesperson has already experienced being new to the team at some point, he/she will likely know the struggles that the new sales rep is facing, and how to help.
This buddy system will also give your new salesperson a way to ask questions that does not take up all of your time.
In addition, this will boost the confidence of the experienced sales rep, as you have asked him to serve as a mentor.
It is a win-win situation for all.
9. Measure and track progress
The only way to really know whether your sales training program is a success is if you are tracking and measuring the results.
Though your sales team may be enjoying the seminars on different topics, if you are not seeing an increase in your sales with the implementation of these seminars, then what are you actually gaining from them?
Keep your eye on the numbers and make sure that the effort you are putting into sales training is bringing success on the other end.
10. Reward achievements
Telling your salespeople they are doing well will give them great confidence.
However, rather than using a general “good job!” statement, specifically state what it is the sales rep did that warranted recognition.
“Great work handling that difficult call.”
“Not only did you meet your goal of X, you exceeded it by X%.”
Do you see how those specific examples show your salesperson that you are really paying attention to their individual work?
That will push your sales reps to continue excelling in their work.
11. Schedule ongoing coaching sessions
In order to get the most out of your training program, you will want to continue the learning and the conversations between you and your reps even after the training program has ended.
There is a great way for you to do this: via on-going coaching sessions.
Simply set up weekly, bi-weekly or monthly coaching sessions with each salesperson.
These do not have to be long — just 15 minutes is enough. These sessions will give each rep an opportunity to ask questions and show you that they are implementing their training into their work.
12. Ask your sales team for feedback
A follow-up session after the training is a great way to assess the effectiveness of your sales training.
Schedule 30 minutes with each sales rep and allow him to lead the conversation. Getting honest feedback from each sales rep is crucial to the ongoing success of your sales training.
If the rep does not cover the following topics in their conversation, be sure you ask:
- Their thoughts on the training
- What they took away from the training
- If there are other training techniques they would like covered
- If there are other ways of learning they would like to try
Incorporating these techniques for improving your sales training will make a noticeable difference in your company. You will find that your reps find learning more fun, they are able to retain information better and they are more motivated.
And you know what all those things mean — more sales.
13. Assess Your Salespeople with Production Builder™
Have you tried all of the techniques listed above and are still not seeing a noticeable improvement in your sales training?
The answer could lie in the way that you understand your salespeople and how they work.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you are not able to pinpoint what is holding your sales team back from meeting their true potential.
The answer often lies in understanding the non-teachable characteristics that make up each one of your salespeople.
Successful salespeople possess a high level of Drive – a trait necessary for long-term sales success.
The Production Builder™ is a tool that objectively evaluates each of your salespeople to determine whether that individual has the Drive necessary to become a high-performing salesperson.
For your high-Drive salespeople, The Production Builder™ provides customized training and mentoring recommendations to help you understand how to best motivate and train that individual to break out of their sales slump and become a high performer.
For your low-Drive salespeople, the report offers recommendations to help them better reach their full potential. Many low-Drive salespeople are most effective in supportive sales roles, such as lead nurturing and follow ups, rather than lead prospecting.
Curious how your sales reps score?
Our FREE trial assessment includes The Production Builder™ Report. Give the trial to one of your current salespeople to evaluate its recommendations. Request your free trial today!