Are you expecting us to declare that sales training will be successful if you regularly involve both new and experienced reps in high-powered sessions on sales strategy, goals, ideal customers, target markets, and best practices?
If so, you’re wrong! All those things are important and will work and must be included as basics. But they’re not all!
Successful sales training needs more thought behind it – the kind of extras your competitors may not have considered using with their own reps.
So – as it’s nearly New Year’s Eve, we’re offering a smorgasbord of key ideas to back up all the things you know you need to do. This will help ensure sales training brings you increased revenue and raises your bottom line.
But first, let’s mention what should be obvious but might not be so: your sales playbook!
Everything you teach in sales training sessions should already be in your playbook. It covers
- your resources for every sales rep,
- best practice at every stage of the sales funnel, and
- guidance and answers in well-organized detail so your reps have clarity on your unique processes at every customer touch point: lead gen, qualifying prospects, proposals, closing, and much more.
So we’ll assume you have a playbook and that it’s first-rate.
Let’s dive into that smorgasbord to see if something here sparks your sales training to a new level of success this year.
Key #1: Concentrate on Embedding Skills and Knowledge
If your sales training aims simply at increased productivity or cutting costs, you risk losing talent.
Reps want training to develop their career or they’ll leave. And the only way to ensure skills grow over time is to embed their learning.
Here are some ways you might do this:
- Use different learning opportunities to embed information in different ways: in person, online, DIY modular, group or individual, video, webinar, etc.
- Make it practical: for example, using your CRM’s search function, entering details, seeing how you’ve customized it for your business – or using your marketing content library to find materials for different sales stages.
- Give opportunities to re-teach or revise with each other: Talking and sharing is more enduring than imbibing from a trainer.
- Have groups work together on tasks: creating a cold email, giving a sales demo, putting together a presentation, to share learning. The weaker learn from the stronger by osmosis.
With learning embedded in this way, your talent will probably stick around and become valuable senior sales managers.
Key #2: Theatre-Based Learning
Imagine being able to direct the performance of a play while it’s happening!
If you can arrange with some senior staff (or colleagues who know your business well) to act out scenes, this brings several senses together: visual, kinetic, and audio. Good learning involves all the senses and the body too.
So – if you want successful sales training, you can use this fact in theatre-based learning. Training becomes more than simple role play. For example, the “actors” can ask questions about what they might do or say next. Or participants can quiz them.
How might it look in practice?
- Your reps can intervene in scenarios they recognize from their sales work and make suggestions.
- They can go and move the “actors” around to positions they think work better in that scenario.
- They can suggest different dialogue that would be more fruitful with that “client.”
- Reps can experiment with “coaching” the “actors” in how to deal with a challenging situation and watch how it plays out.
This is a high-impact way of doing sales training. The benefits include:
- Being highly practical and visual – which makes learning easy.
- Enabling learners to see their own weaknesses, and rethink.
- Encouraging joint problem-solving related directly to your business.
Key #3: Feeling the Customer Experience (CX)
CX has risen to the top of the pile today. If your customers have a poor experience, they move on. And your competitors are waiting for you to misstep!
One way to improve sales training and increase its effectiveness in customer dealings is to help your reps really feel what the customer experiences at various stages in your channels as they move through their journey with you.
So don’t ask them in training: “How would you talk to these three target customers about our Unique Value Proposition?”
Instead, help them consider all aspects of the customer’s pain points relative to your UVP and therefore really understand how to address those at any stage.
To do this, go back to the Buyer Personas in your Sales Playbook. Review the pain points for the different buyers in your target markets. Then address those pain points in the CX portion of your training.
Key #4: Enable Confident Question and Answer
According to Gartner, from their research among sales reps, the most prevalent type of sales professional profile was “Relationship Builder” – and this makes sense, especially for complex sales and longer sales cycles. Your reps need to learn to confidently build long-term relationships to close deals and up-sell later.
However, if you’re not a “Relationship Builder”, you’re probably a “Challenger”. When the researchers looked at sales performance, 40% of star performers were in the ChallengerTM profile. In complex sales situations, it rose to 54%.
Here’s a very brief recap of the Challenger skills and what you’re looking to inspire in sales training:
- The ability to take charge of the purchase conversation and bring it back to your UVP.
- Skill in understanding the prospect’s business well enough to bring in new ideas the customer hasn’t yet thought of, which benefit them.
- Knowing how to prioritize and make sense of all the information the customer has gathered, in terms of possible contradictions and trade-offs.
In other words, teaching the customer within two-way dialogue, tailoring their message to the customer’s values, and taking control of the sale with compelling insight – including the money issue!
Key #5: In-Depth, Experiential Product Training
We’ve mentioned the playbook, the CRM, being able to find and use resources – but what about your product itself?
Detailed information about your product, the market for it, and your target audience are important in training. But there’s more to successful sales training than plain facts.
It’s essential your reps handle the material themselves, whether software or goods. This links to the multi-sense training we mentioned up top. So –
- Let your reps use the product to get in-depth experience of it.
- Encourage them to discuss its benefits as they discover them for themselves.
- Have a brainstorming session with them to consider any aspects that are not yet described in your materials.
- Ask: How would they use the value they’ve perceived in conversation with a client?
360 Can Help With Your Sales Training!
We hope you’ve found some new inspiration in our smorgasbord of ways to enhance and embed your sales training.
As you rev up your sales engine for the new year, we know you want to be sure you have processes and strategies that work – and underpinning your sales process is sales training. We’re committed to your excellent results! Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.