For more information on this topic, check out our ebook here!
Why does it seem like sales training is always the same? Even though we believe that great sales leadership can be learned, some of the traditional advice has been recycled for years. Instead of the same old training with familiar tropes and techniques, we propose a new five-step approach to creating fresh, effective sales training. By streamlining your training and giving it a push in the right direction, you’ll breathe new life into a worn-out workforce.
Step One: Align with Company Goals
Your sales mission might need to be updated, especially if your company’s direction has changed. Start by getting a better understanding of the strategic goals from the top. Then, choose one or two goals that would better align your training with that strategy. Maybe it’s picking a couple of key behaviors you want your salesforce to learn, or maybe it’s a few hard skills that need improvement. Make sure that your goals are measurable, easy to break down, and actionable.
Step Two: Choose the Delivery Method
It’s important to match your sales training with the right delivery method. You don’t want your fresh take to fall on deaf ears, so consider what you’re teaching and the best way to bring that content to your sales team. For hard skills, gamification and mobile learning could give your team the chance to practice in a safe space. For soft skills, instructor-led training and mentoring combined with online modules can reinforce information.
Step Three: Create Engaging Content
In general, you’ll find most salespeople to be what behavioral psychology calls a “Type A” personality. This means that you are working with a highly competitive, time-sensitive learner. In short, they’ll make a very quick decision about whether your training is valuable or a big waste of their time.
Visual storytelling, challenges, and real-world simulations can bring your sales staff out of the conference room and into the scenarios that challenge them the most. You want to make sure the right combination is included in the content of your training program, but most importantly, you want to make sure this content is engaging and meaningful to your sales staff.
When in doubt, ask! Where does your sales team feel weak? What products should they understand better? And where are the knowledge gaps that they need to fill to feel confident?
Step Four: Provide Immediate Implementation Opportunities
Don’t let all of your new training languish on a proverbial shelf. The real key to an effective sales training program, or any training program for that matter, is what we call “Smart Challenges”. Basically, this means that you test the learner right after they receive the new information as quickly as possible. The challenges need to be relevant to the information from the training content and be fun and thought-provoking. Things like quizzes, simulations, games, and in-person feedback are great examples of smart challenges.
Implementation is not the same as memorization. Rather, these practice challenges give your team the experience and confidence they need to implement skills even before they go for the sell.
Step Five: Measure and Maintain
The only true way to effectively measure your sales training ROI is to physically observe behavioral changes before and after the training. This will be a much easier task if you follow one of the initial steps: aligning your training with a very specific result and identifying the behavioral changes necessary to get there.
When the training program is over, do learners amend their behavior to mirror what they’ve learned, or do they go back to the same behavior they exhibited before?
Did the training have an impact? And does that impact positively benefit your organization?
Your learners should be the key source of information as to whether or not their behavior has changed due to training and if training has positively affected their work and results in the field.
Sales training has the risk of going stale if you don’t freshen it up once in a while. If you know where you want to be, you need to get your sales force to buy into your goals. But it’s important to remember that your sales staff is most likely made up of individuals who crave feedback and results. Creating a sales strategy that is clear, engaging, and measurable is the perfect way to reignite their fire and blaze toward your goals.