With today’s highly competitive nature of business, it’s imperative for business organizations to maintain high standards in order to deliver results. And as expectations rise along with the drive to achieve objectives, having the necessary foundation through an effective sales training program can make a real difference. We’ll let you in on the ONLY eight secrets of a successful sales training program.
What is a Sales Training Program?
Sales training is the process of improving basic sales skills, knowledge, and attributes of sales professionals to maximize sales success. This involves the development of skills and techniques related to creating and exploring new sales opportunities, as well as furthering skills involved in closing sales for an organization.
Sales training programs often include topics that drive towards developing better client relationship management, understanding customers’ needs, enhancing communication with clients, and improving client interactions. This provides the learning objectives to generally improve the relationship between sales reps and their clients while improving sales performance and close rates in the process.
With the market’s competitive landscape, organizations rely on effective sales training to boost overall sales performance and provide sales teams the much-needed skills to remain above par. The global market for sales training has risen to $4.21 Billion, with the potential of maintaining a steady increase per year. Yet, despite all the money spent on sales training courses, most sales training fail to deliver lasting results.
To deliver an effective sales training program, you’ll need to focus on changing your sellers’ behaviors to drive sales results and support this change as a change management initiative. Considering that 77% of learning is forgotten within just six days, reinforcement is needed to achieve long-term results.
While most sales training programs still focus on developing specific skills in a one or two-day course, the implementation of blended learning has added the needed reinforcement. These added assessments, online training courses, virtual-based sales training, and email follow-ups through periodic implementations prove to provide more effective results.
Sales organizations need effective sales leaders in order to achieve success. As a business organization, you need to have a clear direction towards your objective, and an effective sales team can provide that path. The sales training process provides not just the needed sales techniques but is also reinforced by the notion of your support for them to become better.
This is reflected in the 5E Scale Engine, with the third and fourth E representing “Empower and Engage”. Sales training programs can empower your team to become highly effective, amplifying your personal efforts towards your goals. This will lead them to develop sales skills to better engage with your customers and clients. And as they say, when you do engagement well, your product will start selling by itself.
Components of a Successful Sales Training Program
The quality of the sales training program you implement will shape the future of your company. To initiate an effective change within the sales processes, you’ll need to consider these seven important components:
1. Essential Sales Skills
No matter how long an employee has been with the company, the training presents an opportunity to refresh basic sales skills. Here are some examples of skills you can discuss with your sales team and sales managers so that everyone is on the same page:
- Finding prospects
- Writing cold emails
- Making a cold call
- Giving a sales demonstration
- Drawing up proposals
- Closing the deal
- Onboarding clients after a deal
Demonstrations and role-playing exercises also provide a means to teach these skills more effectively. Different styles of learning can allow your team to realign the sales tools they need and internalize what they’ve learned.
In addition, gaining an understanding of how your team can initiate sales in other markets is also an important aspect. An example of this is differentiating and understanding Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer sales and how they can work for you.
- B2B sales training focuses on how you can better sell to other companies. This can include how to dress and behave more formally in front of high-level executives, to how you can highlight the uniqueness of your products and services to initiate them to commit to the sale.
- B2C sales training focuses on the sales tools needed to allow your sales reps to grow and find opportunities in today’s competitive marketplace. This is focused on developing the business, by effectively selling, cross-selling, or upselling your products and services while keeping and growing your existing clientele.
2. Customer Experience
Your sales training program should include modules for helping your team to understand the important facets of the customer experience. To that end, genuine empathy for customers is one of the most important traits your sales reps must cultivate. The most successful sales reps empathize with what customers are feeling at all stages of the sales cycle, from initial contact to even after a deal is closed.
Create exercises based on real-world situations that elicit empathy and have your team role-play from the perspective of a customer. Putting them in the customer’s shoes allows them to empathize further, and can make it easier to identify pain points you need to work on. Devise an exercise that allows your sales reps to experience those pain points, so they can learn how to face those challenges more efficiently.
3. Understanding Your Products and The Market
An effective sales training program needs to include detailed information about your products and the market it exists in. Emphasizing your unique selling proposition throughout the program will allow your sales team to align with what makes you different from your competitors, so they can intelligently answer when that question arises.
As part of product training, allow your team to use the products themselves so they become most familiar with the little-known product features that can help make a sale. Your sales team should not only be familiar with your products and buyer personas, but also with your marketing content library.
This enables them to connect prospective customers with the right resources during the sales process. Viewing demonstrations from experienced sales reps and asking trainees to perform their own mock sales pitches are also helpful exercises.
4. The Sales Process
Learning your individual sales process is a critical part of your sales training program. If a new hire has previous sales experience, it’s more than likely that they initiate different processes. You’ll need to provide a comprehensive understanding of your unique sales process which may include:
- Preferred methods of lead generation
- Your method for qualifying prospects
- Your definition of the different stages of the sales funnel
- Guiding prospects through the sales process
- Creating a proposal
- Closing a deal
Reviewing actual case studies in detail is a great way to gain insight and teach your methods more effectively. Role-playing exercises are also a helpful tool to provide a more realistic setting.
5. CRM Training
Customer relationship management, or CRM, is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. Knowing how to use the CRM system effectively is a critical skill for modern sales representatives. A CRM training’s goal is simple: to improve business relationships. CRM systems help companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.
It’s important to learn a CRM system that is specific to your company’s processes. Most people learn software best by doing, so provide opportunities to use the software firsthand. Aside from online sales training programs, other fun activities such as scavenger hunts can be incorporated to add an experiential scope to learning these systems.
6. Team-Building Exercises
An important aspect of any training is to include activities that will help your trainees bond together as a team. Team-building activities or group exercises should be incorporated within the training, with the composition of the groups being shaken up so that people can get to know more members of the team. Providing the venue and the means for the occasional fun group activity or outing is a healthy way of attaining and maintaining a happy and loyal sales force.
Your sales training program should incorporate regular assessment, including both self-assessment and outside evaluation. Assessment is useful to address individual strengths and weaknesses, as well as measuring the effectiveness of the training program.
Provide trainees with the same assessment at the beginning, middle, and end of the training period to measure a trainee’s growth. A results-based assessment provides a means to evaluate representatives’ skills and is a learning opportunity for those involved.
Self-assessment is also a vital part of initiating good sales habits in your sales representatives. Having self-awareness allows them to realize what aspects of the process they’re great with while discovering points of improvement.
Benefits of Sales Training Programs
Effective selling is a skill that needs to be developed, which is why sales training programs are required. Developing and practicing these skills leads to more success, with proper sales training providing these benefits:
- Improving Communication Skills. While many salespeople enjoy talking to people, training provides the means to possess well-rounded communication skills. Key skills such as listening to gain an understanding of what the prospect really wants, as well as asking the right questions can be improved with training. Training can also lead to effectively communicating with all types of personalities and backgrounds.
- Learning Sales Methodology. Learning a proven successful methodology is vital for sales training. This gives the salesperson a road map of how to conduct presentations without “winging it”. Most sales methodologies also focus on developing various closing techniques to gain buying commitment.
- Overcoming Objections. Objections are a normal part of the sales process, and your sales representatives must know how to overcome them. Sales training can teach salespeople how to anticipate objections and the right techniques to work through them.
- Developing Administrative Skills. Effective sales training points out the importance of administrative functions such as keeping accurate records and analyzing closing ratios. This information can help your team better manage their time, increase organization and identify areas that need improving.
8 Secrets of a Successful Sales Training Program
Creating an effective training program involves an eight-step process that you can implement:
1. Remember that sales isn’t about what you’re selling
This principle is the most important thing a salesperson should know. The job of a salesperson is to figure out what the customer’s wants and needs are and to be seen as the problem solver. Show them how your product meets their needs, better than any other option ever could.
2. Assess your program constantly
Sales training leaders constantly assess how their program is enabling reps, in order to gain insight into the progress that is being made. The goal of your sales training program should be to provide a better experience every time you welcome someone new to your team. Learning from what previously worked, and what didn’t is an efficient way to adapt to better programs.
3. Focus on skills and behaviors, not just techniques
While one can benefit from learning sales techniques and specific practices, a successful sales training program focuses on providing practical skills to make them more effective. Influencing the behavior of others to deliver better results is vital to achieving this success.
4. Leverage your team
Training should be built with top-performers in mind but is aimed to help those under-achieving ones as well. Encourage cross-departmental collaboration and communication, as this is a huge aspect of cooperation needed to sell. Optimize your team’s efficiency and skill set together in order to achieve better results.
5. Make it real
People adapt to behavioral changes only voluntarily. Create development experiences that will persuade your people to change that is attainable and advantageous.
6. Make it fun
Effective training is one that is engaging and fun. Instead of browsing through a presentation, let your team visualize the learning through video or demonstrations that let them internalize the concepts better.
7. Practice, practice, practice
Practice is a critical component of enablement, and it’s worth dedicating time for your reps to feel empowered through putting knowledge into practice.
8. Create a positive and stimulating learning experience right from the start
The effectiveness of your sales training program relies on the quality of your team’s total experience. Engage participants in the training even before the start of the workshop so they arrive in a more receptive and curious state of mind.
No matter how reliable a sales strategy is, sales training programs provide essential knowledge to better equip your sales team through any scenario. Putting these concepts into practice will allow your sales team to grow, as individuals and as members of your team, ultimately helping you grow your business further.