The logic is pretty straightforward: If you want to develop a successful sales team, you’ll need to use sales training techniques that actually work.
However, for many organizations, figuring out exactly what those tactics are, and how to implement them correctly, is a lot harder than it sounds.
Maybe you’ve spent significant amounts of time or money on training your sales force, yet haven’t seen the ROI you were hoping for. While the problem might be your sales team, it’s more likely that the problem lies in your approach to training.
Sales training has long been a critical component of sales enablement — as such, there are a lot of ways to do it well, and an equal number of ways to do it poorly.
Below, we’ll go over seven elements to include in your sales training strategy for the best possible results.
1. Take training outside of the sales department
The goal of any sales enablement strategy is to give the sales team everything they need to deliver the best possible experience to the buyer. To achieve this, training typically focuses on these key areas:
- Providing the buyer with the information they need to continue their customer journey with your brand.
- Delivering a high-end customer experience that aligns with brand goals, values, and core offerings.
- Providing the buyer with consistent and accurate information that explains what your company does, who it helps, and how your solution solves X, Y, and Z problems.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Beyond arming your salespeople with the right skills, you’ll also need to consider who else your customer interacts with, what content they might see, and so on.
Here, you’ll want to bring marketing, sales, presales, customer success, customer support, and members of our product and executive teams together to create a cohesive experience.
This review is critical, as it provides an opportunity for each business function to help craft the training to maximize its impact on their teams. Everyone must understand how that training impacts them in performing their jobs.
2. Make training flexible
You need to create a schedule to ensure you cover strategic themes, new product updates, changes to the market, selling tips, and everything else that you are trying to get across as part of your ongoing training.
However, your training schedule must remain flexible.
New priorities will arise, you will identify pain points in processes you use as well as new sales tips to share, and bring in new software. Build the plan, but expect the unexpected.
3. Make training a habit
Sales training doesn’t end after sellers reach a certain level. Technologies change. As do product lines, regulatory compliance standards, and most importantly, buyer expectations.
In sales, there’s always something to learn or improve. Make sure you’re consistently serving up training materials to your sales team so that eventually, learning becomes a regular part of their day. Keep in mind, the most useful sales enablement software allows you to pre-load training content and schedule it out in advance.
4. Record and share
As we keep driving home, training and coaching are key elements in any sales enablement strategy. However, it’s not always practical for salespeople to make it to every in-person training nor is it realistic for sales managers to schedule regular one-on-ones with every seller on their team.
As such, you’ll want to make it a priority to bring video recordings into the process.
Record live training sessions and publish every session to your sales training system. Creating a video library of training videos allows sellers to go back and refresh their memory from past sessions, while also being able to learn from their peers.
Additionally, video coaching solutions allow sales leaders to help sellers refine their strategy — whether that’s through assigning video-based practice pitches or leading a group session where sellers receive feedback from their peers.
5. Work toward reinforcement
We have all seen the statistics — according to a study by Xerox, people forget 87% of their sales training in the first 30 days after the training takes place.
“Ebbinghaus’s formula calls for you to spend 10 minutes reviewing the material within 24 hours of having received it (that will raise the curve back up to almost 100 percent retained again). Seven days later, spend five minutes to “reactivate” the same material and raise the curve up again. By day 30, your brain needs only two to four minutes to completely “reactivate” the same material, again raising the curve back up.”
Reinforcement is critical to memory. It is this simple fact that drives Bigtincan’s use of quizzes that force this reinforcement at regular intervals. We refer to this formula and reinforcement techniques which, supported by our sales coaching tools, work together to reduce this knowledge loss.
Reinforcement is one of the key sales training techniques. Without it, the rest of your efforts will have minimal impact.
6. Go small with microlearning
Remember why you are training the team.
Your teammates have jobs to do, and your role in teaching them is to help them, and your entire business, better support your customers.
Your training should be as brief and targeted as possible. To deliver this, Bigtincan offers weekly training sessions via web conference that are one hour max.
After the training is delivered, videos and other supporting content are, where possible, chunked into smaller pieces of microlearning lessons. We know teams are busy, so these are no more than 5 minutes long with five or six questions, tops.
Of course, if people cannot remember the information, or need to find the details, it’s all there — searchable and easy to find. But the expectation is that the live sessions, combined with regular reinforcement, reduces the need to spend time hunting for information.
7. Use data to validate sales training techniques
Why do we provide training in the first place?
Because we’re trying to drive better outcomes. Whether that’s improving win rates or delivering a better experience, you’ll never know if your sales training techniques are working without tracking the right data.
A few areas you might monitor to ensure your training efforts are moving in the right direction:
- Engagement with learning materials
- Assessment/quiz scores
- Feedback from the sales team — what’s working, what’s not, what topics should be included in future training sessions?
- Win rates
- Average deal size
- NPS scores
- Retention rates
All of this data will go toward refining your strategy so that you can get closer to hitting your target objectives.
Don’t fall in love with the content you create, or the magical way you weave demos. All of those tactics are a means of achieving business outcomes. Use the data, stay focused, and remain strategic.
Training a competent sales team is far from easy. You’ll need to build a program comprised of a mix of delivery methods, content types, and sales training techniques — and include multiple teams in the process.
However, by leveraging best-in-breed training tactics you can create an environment for learning that separates you from your competition.
This hard work will ensure that the buyers you work with have great customer experiences, can find solutions to their business challenges, and that ultimately ensure your business is successful for years to come.
For more ways to level up your sales team, check out our Ultimate Sales Coaching Guide for 2020. You can download your free copy here.