Sales is not about “pushing” a product or solution onto a customer. Any conversation with a customer must begin with learning about their needs, pain points, and frustrations, and then showing where and how a range of solutions can satisfy those needs and frustrations. Buyers don’t want to be hounded or grilled; they want to be heard and understood. In a study conducted by HubSpot, buyers said the number one way sales reps can improve the sales experience is by listening to their needs.
To accomplish this and support their success, sales professionals today require sales training that teaches them how to approach sales with the goal of listening, learning, and offering effective and creative solutions for clients.
Not all sales training is created equal though, and simply offering training is no guarantee that the behavior of your salespeople will change. To ensure you deliver sales training that makes a measurable impact, it is important to focus on delivering learning content in a way that is engaging, addresses your organization’s unique needs, and is reinforced to keep the content top of mind throughout the sales force.
As you sort through a variety of sales training ideas in order to come up with a solution that will achieve everything listed above, remember not to overlook the following three things during the planning stage:
Customized Training Content
Sales training must factor in the uniqueness of your sales organization. The training must be customized and relevant to your industry, your buyers, and the day-today realities faced by your sales force. If you ignore your need for customized training content, you risk delivering training that falls flat in the eyes of your sales team because it skims over their most pressing challenges, does not use language or examples that resonate, or is irrelevant to their specific industry. When narrowing down your ideas for sales training, it will be important to give special consideration to the options that can be customized to maximize relevancy and consistency.
Training Delivery Method
In the case of sales teams, how you deliver training is almost as important as what you deliver. The method of delivery you select can greatly influence a salesperson’s experience in training, for good or bad. Similar to individuals in other functions, salespeople will be more open to training that speaks to them in a way that allows them to connect with the learning content, and they will be more receptive if they believe that fully engaging in training will truly make them more effective. You need to carefully select the best training methods that will optimally engage individuals with the content you need them to learn and master. In many cases, salespeople would much rather be out selling than in a classroom, so you must provide a good reason for them to engage. There’s no better way to do that than with the right training delivery method.
One option to achieve this that stands out among the rest, is experiential learning. In this training methodology individuals learn by participating in hands-on, interactive learning scenarios that mimic the workplace. The key differentiator of this delivery method is that it builds conviction within salespeople to do things differently or think about the customer in a new way.
No training is successful if it is seen as a fad or “one and done.” The best way to ensure success, is to provide training reinforcement activities to ensure a strong return on investment that keeps individuals focused and engaged even after the training has taken place. In fact, one study found that organizations that use post-training reinforcement realize a 34 percent increase in first-year sales rep quota achievement than organizations that skip reinforcement. Some examples of training retention and reinforcement activities are:
- Reinforcement by leaders—Sales leaders coach reps as they apply and begin to master new sales behaviors. They can also reinforce newly learned behaviors by recognizing progress and successes in a timely manner.
- Mobile and gamified reinforcement—Learning content, questions, and feedback from training can be delivered to employees using a range of media.
- Ongoing knowledge reinforcement—Assessments and surveys periodically gauge employee knowledge and learning retention.
With the right content, delivery, and reinforcement, you can deliver impactful sales training that helps salespeople build skills and improve their sales effectiveness. And you don’t have to go it alone. A trusted partner skilled in helping sales teams improve their results can help you design a training program that shows sales professionals how to succeed in today’s sales landscape.