7 Components of a Successful Sales Training Program

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The quality of training you provide your new sales hires will shape their future at your company. To implement a great sales training program, here are seven important components to consider:

1. Essential sales skills

Even for experienced sales reps, training presents an opportunity to refresh basic sales skills. Here are a few examples of skills to go over with your reps:

  • Finding prospects
  • Writing cold emails
  • Making a cold call
  • Giving a sales demonstration
  • Drawing up a proposal
  • Closing the deal
  • Onboarding clients after a deal

To teach these skills most effectively, use demonstrations and role-playing exercises. Include video examples. By catering towards multiple styles of learning, sales representatives will internalize what they’ve learned. As part of the training process, you can even ask trainees to sit in on real-life phone calls and meetings. Then your best performers can model their sales skills to new hires.

2. The customer experience

Genuine empathy for customers is one of the most important traits any sales representative can cultivate. To that end, your sales training program should include modules for helping new representatives to understand all facets of the customer experience. The most successful sales representatives empathize with what customers are feeling at all stages of the sales process, from initial contact until a deal is closed.

Exercising empathy

Don’t just review buyer personas with your team, create exercises based on real-world situations that elicit empathy for your target customers. Have new sales representatives role-play from the perspective of a customer so that they can put themselves in those shoes. Introduce new hires to your existing customers’ perspectives by showing them video, or even setting up a meeting between new hires and a valued customer.

If there are pain points that are particularly essential for your company’s Unique Selling Proposition, devise an exercise that will allow your sales representatives to experience that pain point on a larger scale. If your product allows retail employees to stock clothing more efficiently, for example, make your sales representatives organize merchandise the old-fashioned way.

3. Your products and market

Your sales training program should also include detailed information about your products and market. Emphasize your Unique Selling Proposition throughout the training program, so that sales representatives can intelligently answer the question “what makes you different from your competitors?”

As part of product training, allow trainees the opportunity to use the products themselves. You can invite software developers and product engineers to come in and talk to new representatives. They’re familiar with the little-known product features that can help representatives make a sale. New representatives should become familiar not only with your products and buyer personas, but also your marketing content library. This will allow them to connect prospective customers with the right resources during the sales process.

In introducing trainees to new products, it can be very helpful for them to observe a sales demonstration from one of your best experiences sales representatives. Later on, ask them to perform a mock sales pitch.

4. Your sales process

Teaching new hires about your individual sales process is critical. If a new hire has previous sales experience, it’s likely that they’re using processes that differ from your own. Make sure everyone leaves training with a comprehensive understanding of your unique processes, including:

  • Preferred methods of lead generation
  • Your method for qualifying prospects
  • How you define different stages of the sales funnel
  • Guiding prospects through the sales process
  • Creating a proposal
  • Closing a deal
  • Up-selling and cross-selling
  • Delivering a great customer experience once the deal is signed

To teach your methods effectively, it can be helpful to review actual case studies in detail. Role-playing exercises are also a helpful tool. For example, trainees can practice prospect qualification by qualifying an example prospect. You can even use past cases to create a sense of realism.

5. CRM training

Knowing how to use the CRM system effectively is a critical skill for modern sales representatives. Provide CRM training that is specific to your company’s processes and highlights any customizations you’ve made to the software. Although training materials provided by the CRM vendor can be a helpful starting point, your trainees will greatly benefit from more specialized training.

Most people learn software best by doing, so provide trainees with multiple opportunities to use the software firsthand. They should learn how to enter new entries into the CRM, use the search function, and update information on existing accounts. To add more interest to CRM training, consider turning it into a scavenger hunt. Breaking your trainees up into groups, ask them to locate certain pieces of information from the CRM. You can even offer a prize to the winning team.

6. Team-building exercises

As your new hires learn the basics, include activities that will help them bond together as a team. Group exercises should be incorporated throughout the training. Ideally, training instructors should shake up the composition of the groups so that people can get to know as many of their new co-workers as possible.

While the bulk of sales training will be devoted to business, consider incorporating the occasional fun group activity or outing.

7. Assessment

The training process should incorporate regular assessment, including both self-assessment and outside evaluation. Assessment is useful for customizing training to address trainees’ individual strengths and weaknesses, and for measuring the effectiveness of training modules.

To measure a trainee’s growth during the sales training program, provide them with the same assessment at the beginning, middle, and end of the training period. One such example is for the sales representative to provide a mock product demonstration. Consider the results as both a means to evaluate representatives’ skills and a learning opportunity.

Don’t overlook self-assessment

Not only is self-assessment easy to administer, but it is also useful for inculcating habits of self-awareness in your sales representatives. Ask new trainees to use the same self-evaluation tools as you provide to established sales representatives so they become familiarized with your processes.

Does your sales training program focus on any other important components? If so let us know in the comments below.

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Marketing Manager @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.