If you consider sales training to be the first of several steps toward boosting profits, it’s easy to see why it’s such a crucial investment.
Sales training lays the foundation for future revenues by increasing your team’s satisfaction, loyalty and competence, all of which improve their interaction with the customer. A satisfied customer is more likely to spend more, refer your business and generally serve as a brand ambassador for your products or services.
Ready to amp up your sales training results? Consider these six tips related to sales enablement tools, training customization and implementation, and post-training reinforcement and growth plans to make your sales training more effective.
1) Use data-driven tools to determine what training is needed.
How do you identify what sales training is needed? In addition to observation and feedback, you can start with data.
Today’s sales enablement tools can help measure just about anything, from lead-to-customer conversion rate, sales funnel leakage, average deal size and what percentage of your sales team is hitting their quota.
You can also get insights into how your sales team is using (or not using) content, if they’re nurturing leads, how quickly they’re following up with customer requests, what their daily behaviors are, and which channels they use most to communicate with prospects.
Simply looking at annual revenue or top sellers doesn’t tell the whole story about the success or shortcomings of your sales reps’ individual performance. Look at your sales enablement metrics to assess what your training should cover for the best results.
- Investigate lead nurturing tactics and improve weak spots
- Access content used by sales team and look for missing pieces
- Select the best metrics to watch to evaluate your progress
2) Ensure that your sales training is tailored to your business.
Encourage your sales trainer to invest some time learning about your industry, your business, your competition and how your sales reps interact with clients from start to finish. This will require a combination of research, talking to sales reps, listening in on calls and possibly tagging along on meetings with prospects.
Because not all sales roles are the same, a one-size-fits-all approach to sales training won’t align with your behaviors or training priorities.
- Make sure the sales leader is right for the role
- Before creating a sales training program, talk with those in the field
3) Focus on skills application.
Sitting your team down for hours of lectures won’t be nearly as effective for learning or retention as active participation. About two-thirds of your sales training should involve the trainees. This could include roleplaying, exercises, team activities and discussions about what works and what doesn’t. For example, they can discuss what content helps close sales and customers’ frequently asked questions.
Sales training participants can also benefit from the advice and stories of the most successful reps at various points in the pipeline. This includes those who are good at cold calling, objection-handling, closing and cross-selling.
- Avoid lectures or online webinars and get hands-on
- Create a training program that draws on the strengths and experiences of your veteran sales reps
4) Create a plan for growth.
With sales training, a plan for growth should consider both the sales team’s growth as a whole to boost revenue, and each sales rep’s self-designed plan for performance success.
Employee motivation isn’t always just about money. It can be the acknowledgement that they’re doing a good job. It can also be knowing that they’re genuinely helping their customers find solutions to their problems. Highly motivated sales reps who value their independence may fare well from creating their own plan for growth. Autonomous employees can sometimes outperform their own goals when given room to challenge themselves.
- Set challenging yet attainable sales goals
- Include sales incentives and recognition as part of an ongoing sales program
5) Implement changes gradually and with input from longtime employees.
It’s common for sales training to be hit with some resistance. Longtime sales reps may not feel they need it. Some of them may find the idea of change to be intrusive or overwhelming. The key to working with reluctant team member is to implement changes gradually.
Sales reps who have been with the company for a while may have an easier time accepting changes. This is especially true if they’re invested in the outcome and can offer input on where improvements are most needed. Consult with them before and after sales training to ask where they see holes, bottlenecks and the needs for new sales enablement tools like MindTickle or Brainshark.
- Set up a system to collect and implement feedback
- Use sales enablement tools to utilize and improve sales training in the future
6) Continue to reinforce training.
Sales training shouldn’t end when your trainer finishes their PowerPoint presentation. Training Industry reports that ROI on sales training increases from 22% to 88% when reps receive in-field coaching and reinforcement.
Ongoing training requires a commitment from sales managers to regularly evaluate performance and discuss opportunities for improvement. Check in regularly to ensure that sales enablement tools and the sales techniques that were taught are being used properly for maximum benefit and offer additional training if they’re not.
- Sales training shouldn’t happen every other year, it should be constant
- Build training into your company’s culture so it becomes a regular aspect of work
By applying these tips to your sales training, you can increase your ROI and improve its effectiveness, even in the face of reluctant sales teams.
Limor is a technical writer and editor of highly technical software documentations and development guides in the tech industry. In the past, she worked as a Lead Technical Writer at GigaSpaces Technologies.