Ultimately, if you don’t sell, your business doesn’t succeed! So, it’s paramount that your sales workforce is ready to meet the challenges of selling under any conditions. And if your goal is to build an effective sales department, sales training is a must.
Find out how to create and implement an effective sales training program at your company. Let’s start with learning how big of a deal effective sales training is to your business.
Why Is Sales Training Important?
First and foremost, all sales trainings aren’t equal. Okay, we know that a lot of sales training programs have remained the same over the years, but the world is constantly changing, mainly because we’re doing business in a digital era.
Although sales experience is something you cannot get directly from taking a course, you can teach the fundamentals of how to sell. You can teach your sales process, focusing on each sales technique at a time. While individuals may have their own sales styles, your company should have clear corporate sales guidelines.
And what’s the best way for all your sales reps to follow your company’s sales guidelines? That’s right: sales training. The fresher and more exciting the sales training program, the more likely it is to meet your goals.
Instead of the same old sales training, check out our five-step approach to effective sales training below. You’ll learn to streamline your sales training process and give it a push in the right direction. That’ll breathe new life into your sales team.
How To Approach Sales Training
These are the steps you should follow to build and implement stellar sales training.
Step 1: Align with business goals
Did your company’s direction change? You should update your sales mission statement and your sales training program. Recommendations:
- Get to know the new strategic goals of your company.
- Choose one or two of them that best map to your current sales training program.
- Adjust your sales training outline and materials to those goals.
- Move on to the new strategic goals that would be most impactful for your sales team. If it’s difficult to choose, start with the least complex.
- Finish by breaking down your learning outcomes and making sure they’re measurable and actionable.
When picking which new strategic goals to address next, consider:
- New key behaviors your salesforce needs to learn
- New sales techniques they need to master
Step 2: Choose the delivery method
It’s important to match your sales training with the right delivery method. Do you know why?
Because you want the effort you put into creating or uplifting your sales training program to pay off. And because there’s only one thing you want to achieve with the program: results.
Therefore, when choosing one delivery method over the other, consider the topics you’re teaching. Then, ask yourself, “What’s the best way to bring this content to the sales team?”
For hard skills, gamification and mobile learning could give your team the chance to practice in a safe space. On the other hand, for soft skills, instructor-led training and mentoring may work better. You might even combine those methods with some online eLearning modules to boost information retention.
Step 3: Create engaging content
In general, you’ll find most salespeople to be what behavioral psychology calls a “type A” personality. This means that you’re working with highly competitive, time-sensitive learners. They’ll decide very quickly whether your training is valuable or a big waste of their time.
So, how should you create your training content in a way that appeals to your sales staff?
Visual stories or real-world scenarios are just a few examples of how you might captivate your audience. You should investigate what type of training content works best for them. But most importantly, you want to make sure that the content is engaging and meaningful to the learners.
If you’re unsure, ask yourself:
- Where does your sales team feel weak?
- What products should they understand better?
- Which knowledge gaps do they need to fill in to become more confident?
Step 4: Apply lessons learned fast
The secret to an effective sales training program is “smart challenges.” This means testing the learner right after they receive the new information.
The challenges must be relevant, fun, thought-provoking, and aligned with the learning outcomes. Consider varying the challenges, mixing in quizzes, scenarios, and games.
Remember: The goal of smart challenges is not to memorize information. Instead, they’re practice activities to give your sales team the confidence to use their newly-developed skills in the field.
What’s the best way to effectively measure the ROI of a corporate training course? Comparing the changes in your personnel’s behavior before and after the training. Nevertheless, that might be hard to do.
Step 5: Measure and maintain
To make the ROI measurement easier, try:
- Defining very specific goals that you wish to achieve with the training
- Identifying the behaviors you need to teach your sales staff to achieve those goals down the line
Afterward, when the training ends, all you have to do is check if they’re mirroring what you taught them.
When defining the goals for the training, think of how you want your sales department to impact the business. Your learners will notice the impact of training on the way they sell. But ultimately, it’s the difference in their sales performance that counts!
Now, the maintenance part. Sales training has the risk of becoming outdated very quickly. Therefore, make plans to consistently evaluate if it’s still fresh and compliant with the business goals.
At this point, you know the steps to develop and establish an effective sales training program. Discover now how you can get the same effectiveness from a sales training eLearning program.
Using eLearning for Sales Training
At first glance, sales training might not seem like a natural fit for eLearning. Being a successful sales rep relies a lot on instincts, but those are tough to acquire. So, how do you effectively teach them online, from a distance?
You have options. One of them is online presentations. However, those aren’t the best alternative to teach how to act and react in sales situations. Online presentations are more suitable to teach sales protocol and compliance.
What happens if a customer asks a tricky question about your company? Or how do you turn a sales prospect into a repeat customer? Your sales staff must know what to do in the moment! Reading or watching an online presentation may not prepare them to handle those situations successfully.
On the other hand, scenarios allow your sales personnel to sharpen their natural sales instincts. And if they lack those innate instincts, they can develop sales skills from the ground up more effectively.
Next, you’ll find a couple of options to learn and practice sales skills outside the classroom.
Your sales training course can have eLearning modules with presentations dedicated to explaining sales theory. For instance, you can teach sales pitch structuring or lead nurturing techniques through eLearning presentations.
However, presentations don’t offer a high level of interaction and similarity to the real world. That’s something that sales simulations can give.
For instance, could you teach business proposal meeting techniques with an online presentation? Yes, you could. But does it really meet the goal of preparing your sales reps for the real-world challenges of selling?
A sales simulation would allow them to practice answering both the most frequently asked questions and the tricky ones. They could also learn to read verbal and body language cues while receiving real-time feedback from an instructor. To get those cues more effectively, you could use a 3D simulation solution.
In any case, roleplaying is a sales training technique that can help you with sales simulation. To put it into practice, you need people or bots to play roles in scenarios that your sales team could face. And the learner’s mission is to come up with the best answers on the fly.
What’s the greatest advantage of a sales simulation? It’s a low-stress environment in which it’s safe to answer questions incorrectly without risking the deal. Consequently, your salespeople gain the confidence and ability to interact with real customers successfully.
Key Takeaways to Train a Winning Sales Team
Teach your sales strategy in a clear, engaging, and measurable way. That’s how you’ll ignite your sales personnel’s fire and achieve your sales training goals.
You’re right to think that the best salespeople are born with sales instincts. However, you can perfect the instincts that are already there while developing new ones from scratch.
With scenarios in sales training, you can provide an inspiring and useful learning experience. Have a look at our ebook for more details!