Even your best sales reps aren’t born knowing how to sell to the maximum of their potential. They need education, development, and chances to hone their skills regularly to deliver the best results for your business. This is why sales training programs are such a vital element of building a sales team that excels and grows your revenue significantly.
In this post, we’ll go in-depth about various aspects of sales training. You’ll learn what it is, why it’s vital to the success of your business, and the basics to start building a better sales team through training.
What is Sales Training?
Sales training is a simple concept – it’s putting in the time and effort to train your sales team for success through a structured, thoughtful training program.
While it’s not hard to understand what sales training is, many organizations don’t put in the time to develop or implement effective sales training programs. Plenty of businesses still just hire and unleash untrained sales reps on their customers. This is because they don’t see the value in putting time and money into training- but it’s a big mistake.
Why is Sales Training Important?
Sales training is important to sales teams and organizations of every size, from the smallest startups to large, established corporations. This is because thoughtful training prepares your sales reps for success, from their first day on the job until the end of their careers.
If you’re dropping sales reps with lots of natural talent but little direction into their jobs and without formal guidance or instruction, they’re not going to be as effective at selling as they could be. People skills and charisma are certainly important sales skills, but they will only get you so far.
What really builds a strong sales force is a set of aligned, highly effective sales methodologies and techniques. Getting every sales rep to follow the same sales process through the whole sales cycle helps ensure reps are using the most effective techniques to close sales. You would do this with the initial onboarding training, but then provide ongoing training to hone skills that would enhance the sales process.
And developing and adhering to a certain sales process can ensure your whole team is set up for success.
Nothing Can Replace the Value of Investing in Sales Training
Proper training will ensure your sales team knows:
- your preferred sales methodology, customized to your business
- understands how to use it for your unique company
- what each step of your sales cycle is
- the big picture of your sales process
By not investing in sales training programs, you will likely end up with a team of unfocused sales reps who are all taking different routes to closing deals. And unfortunately, most of those routes could end up being far from ideal.
Sales training is also more important than ever in today’s fast-changing selling environment. It’s not enough to teach your sales reps one old-school sales training method and expect them to stick with it through their careers. Buyers are more savvy and suspicious of sales and marketing than ever. And many companies have introduced sales processes where customers only have to speak to sales reps very little or not at all.
Regular sales training can help keep your sales team up to date on the latest and best techniques to keep making sales in this new environment. Your more experienced reps will be continuously refreshed on the current best practices that lead to increased sales. Plus, newer reps will improve their sales skills faster with more frequent training.
And the ultimate goal of sales training is to have a high performing sales team, leading to business growth and success.
Types of Sales Training Programs
Sales training doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all box. As such, there are several kinds of training programs that can increase sales performance in every kind of sales.
Many sales training programs use different names or categories to describe their focus. But they basically all boil down to these four categories:
1. Inside Sales
This kind of sales happens in the office – selling via phone, online, or email, instead of going out and traveling to meet with prospects. Inside sales includes referrals, prospecting, and consultative meetings. These all take place in your office (or the home office for many these days).
2. Field Sales
In contrast to inside sales, field sales takes place out in the field. These trainings talk about sales at conferences, trade shows, the offices of your prospects, and anywhere else that’s not your office. It’s taking the selling game externally for real human connection.
3. Service Sales
This kind of sales is based on customer service – it’s about extending existing customers into loyal, repeat ones and avoiding churn by delivering exceptional customer service and added value. It might include storytelling and consultative selling.
See our blog on developing key accounts for more on this program.
4. Sales Management
Sales managers are a key part of your sales effectiveness. Thus, sales management training is aimed at helping them become better coaching agents and development coaches. Building stronger sales managers helps build stronger overall sales teams in the long term.
Sales Training Programs
Sales training programs come in many different forms. And this is great because it means you can pick the sales training course or develop a program that meets your team’s needs closely.
While there are hundreds of sales training courses available today, you can narrow down the three main types of sales training programs to find the one that works for you.
Full-Service Sales Courses
If you’re looking for a complete sales training solution that is delivered as a complete package, then a full-service training course may be right for your organization. These courses may be held on-site or online so you can pick the delivery method you prefer. These kinds of training courses typically offer instructor-led training and personalized attention for your sales professionals.
This is the most commonly used type of sales training, as it delivers a balance between comprehensive materials, personalized attention, and cost effectiveness.
Self-Service Training Courses
If you’re looking for a pre-packaged but more flexible sales training solution, a self-service sales course might be right for you. These tend to be online resources that take your sales reps through the key areas of sales and train them to perform at their best. This kind of sales training can take place on your own timeline and without the expense of travel, but still delivers the essentials to closing the sale.
These kinds of courses are often less expensive than a full-service training option, so they’re popular with smaller organizations with more modest budgets.
Sales Training Consultants
For mid-sized or larger organizations looking to create in-house training programs or bring in highly personalized advice, hiring a sales training consultant can be a great solution. They can help your business develop a completely customized sales training program that increases sales and powers your sales performance.
They can also often help with other aspects of sales performance, like:
- sales coaching
- leader training
- developing an effective sales process
360 Consulting offers sales training and sales management training to get your sales reps ready for success.
Finding the Best Sales Training Programs
Now that you’re familiar with all the different kinds of sales training and training programs on the market, how can you go about selecting the right sales training program for your business? There are a few sales training course criteria that can help you narrow down your options from too many to the right few.
Will your sales team be able to travel to another location, either locally or across the country? This can take up significant time and budget, but being on-site for training can also make it more effective.
Judging whether those pros outweigh the costs in time and money for your business can help you decide which kind of training to seek out. Many courses are also offered virtually, which doesn’t have quite the same impact as an in-person session but adds considerable convenience.
How much time can you afford to devote to training for your sales reps and your team as a whole? Considering the ROI on the time spent will be so great for your bottom line, don’t skimp too much on the time spent training. But it’s also good to be realistic about the time commitment involved.
How will the training course fit into your sales team’s schedule?
Again, sales training has a significant ROI so investing some money into it is budget well-spent.
But every organization has a different set of priorities, so how do you expect this investment to pay off?
And how much can you truly afford to spend right now?
Answering these questions will help you get clear on which training options might (or might not) work for you.
What is the main focus of the training program?
For maximum effectiveness, you’ll want to find a training that addresses a major pain point for you and your reps. And this should look at more than just wanting improved sales, though that’s always an important goal.
What are the current needs of your sales team and your company, and how will these potential training sessions help you do better?
If you’re struggling with B2B sales, for example, you won’t want to pick a training that focuses primarily on B2C because your team won’t get as much out of it.
If you’re a small company with a minimal sales team, you probably won’t benefit as much from trainings designed for large enterprises. And the reverse is also true. You can also look for trainings that focus on your role, industry, and/or market so you can be sure you’re getting the most out of your time and money.
How does your sales team tend to learn best – through role-playing, live demonstrations, or other learning experiences? Teams will take more away from trainings if they’re memorable, experiential, and fun too. Looking for a style of training that fits your team’s preferences will help them retain the information so you get more value out of the experience.
Another aspect of training that makes it more effective is follow up after the initial training. So ask yourself if you want a one-time training event or training that includes follow up at regular intervals to reinforce what was learned in the original training activity.
These days, follow up can be either virtual or in-person.
Make it a Goal to Implement Ongoing Sales Training
Sales training doesn’t always need to take place in a formal, course-based format. In fact, it’s a good idea to supplement in-depth trainings with frequent small bites of training experiences to ensure your reps are constantly sharpening their skills.
Here are a few ideas for how to keep the sales training happening consistently and effectively throughout the year.
In Sales Meetings
We’ve written before about eight great ways to implement some sales training into your next sales meeting – read the complete blog for all the details.
Bring in External Expertise
Asking or inviting industry leaders to address your team at an upcoming meeting can bring fresh ideas into your sales organization. These speakers can address current trends and best practices so your team stays up to date in a short amount of time.
Ask your Clients
What better way to learn than to ask your clients what worked with them, how they like to buy, and any recommendations they might have to make your sales team and sales process better. If possible, ask them to address your team in a sales meeting or training event or work with you on an internal, sales-focused case study.
Junior sales reps can learn a lot from working with more experienced leads in your organization, so why not make that learning experience ongoing and official? Implementing a mentoring program can help newer reps succeed faster and learn from the best. This also helps to build a team morale for a winning sales culture.
Knowing how to deliver a convincing, compelling presentation that wins over prospects definitely leads to increased sales. Thus, you can help your sales reps improve their presentation skills by hosting presentation labs where they can practice the whole process.
This idea entails developing sales decks, telling a strong story, and perfecting their delivery. These can be informal gatherings, but they’ll pay dividends in increased deals.
The Bottom Line
Sales is the one discipline that business owners and leaders tend to ignore as it relates to training and development. Possibly this relates to some long-held beliefs that we know to be completely myths.
Sales is not magic, it’s not being “salesy”. Rather, it’s delivering value for your customers’ needs. You wouldn’t hire a machine operator and allow that person to operate without training, nor would you hire a CFO/Controller that was not educated, trained, and had some on-going development.
Yet, sales is not looked at as requiring training and development to learn to become a sales professional. There were not, until very recently, any college curriculum for sales. We at 360 Consulting believe that sales is the single most important part of any business and should be a significant area of investment, which involves people, process and training.
Besides, nothing happens until something is sold!
Get Help from a Sales Training Team
Looking for help finding or creating the perfect sales training program for your business? 360 Consulting is here to help you get the most of out of your sales training by motivating your reps and building their skills so they’re the best salespeople they can be.
Schedule your free consultation here to find out how we help sales teams break sales records.