They often say that sellers are born and not made. While it’s true that certain personalities lend themselves to the sales profession, the skills can definitely be learned and honed. Even the most experienced sales people will still benefit from adding new strings to their bows. Therefore, sales training is essential to keeping your selling force strong.
That being said, the sales process is complex. There are so many facets that make up a successful sales professional; rapport building, influence, product knowledge, the ability to close a deal, to name but a few. This means that sales training can often be a minefield and it is tricky to get right. Ineffective training results in poor salespeople and even poorer results. In order for sales teams to achieve, any sales training they receive needs to be done right.
Why sales training is important
Does perfection exist? It’s hard to say. There’s always room to improve, especially when it comes to your career. You may think that you know all there is to know, but stagnation is never a good thing. Especially when it comes to the dynamic, people-focused arena of sales. Every customer is different, so your sales technique needs to be adaptable.
Even if you’ve been working within the profession for years, sales is a fickle mistress. Things are always changing. Your fail-safe pitch may lose its charm, selling to a new client could render your charm useless. While this all makes working in the profession that little bit harder, it’s part of what makes it so exciting! It also means that, for salespeople to stay on top of their game in this ever-changing field, they need to stay on top of their sales training.
Sales training for entry-level employees
If you’re employing trainee or graduate sales talent, you’re working with raw materials. This isn’t a bad thing! You have the opportunity to shape and mould them into a great sales professional. However, for today’s trainees to become tomorrow’s target smashing Account Managers, employers need to invest in a well-rounded sales training programme that teaches a range of sales techniques. Trainees may have the right personality and attributes for the job, but the ability to sell, and to do it well, needs to be learned.
Where many employers fall down with trainee and graduate salespeople is by delivering rigid training that covers the company, the products and procedures, but not much else. Attrition will remain high for companies who briefly induct entry level sales teams and then send them on their way. To make the most of these employees, use sales training to teach them how to master selling skills and ensure ongoing support and coaching is available.
Teaching old dogs new tricks
Experienced salespeople can be a little harder to get on board when it comes to sales training. To survive in sales, you need to be confident and bring results. So, for those who are reaching their targets and are confident in their abilities, training can seem pointless, or even offensive.
Sales Managers need to promote a culture of development and coaching within their sales teams, so that training and learning are seen as positive. To ensure that salespeople are receptive to the prospect of training, it’s important for them to see the value in it for them. Is it going to help them get more bonuses? Will they find themselves at the top of the leaderboard? Could it make them Salesperson of the Year? It’s also important to tailor any sales training programme so that it’s relevant to the employees and their level of experience, or they’re likely to resent it – no one likes being patronised!
Making the most of sales training
There are many ways that employers can effectively implement sales training. Below are a few methods that can be utilised in order to help sales teams to achieve their very best and bring in those sales results.
Don’t overdo it
Salespeople, generally speaking, like to be on the go. Time is money, and money is their motivator. So, it’s often difficult to capture their attention for long periods of time – they’ve got deals to make! That means that long, drawn-out, full-day training seminars are unlikely to be effective. Whereas short, concise and regular training sessions will keep sales teams engaged and therefore more likely to learn. Additionally, it is helpful to make sure that any training sessions are interactive in some way, to keep attention where it needs to be.
While too little training can be catastrophic, too much sales training can also have a negative effect. Rigid, by the book sales techniques, don’t win sales. The bottom line is that people buy from people, so while their selling skills need to be mastered, avoid creating robots. Selling requires the ability to think creatively and on the spot, overtraining can harm this.
Leave them to it
Salespeople love people but they also love their autonomy. Not every training session needs to be done in the office or within a group. Online or independent learning can work really well for those working within sales. They can factor it into their busy schedules and feel like they’re in control of their development, too. (Reed have put together a great list of online sales training courses.)
Setting a deadline and some form of assessment or review for the training to be completed is useful – it’s just another target to hit!
If you have a sales team, every single individual will sell differently. The great thing about this is that you have a ready-made pool of talent and knowledge at your disposal. Encouraging salespeople to shadow one another while dealing with key accounts, hosting best practice meetings, sharing individual achievements and discussing closed sales are brilliant ways to help them to expand their knowledge. It also taps into their competitive nature.
Using training providers
Sometimes, a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference. Attending external training sessions or using third-party providers can introduce ideas and techniques you or your team may not have considered previously.
If you do your research, there are plenty of reputable and even award-winning sales training solutions that can deliver a tailored solution for your business.
However, sometimes budgets won’t always allow for this – the great news is that there are plenty of free resources online. For example, the Sales Training Consultancy have created some sales training resources – view them here.
Bringing it all together
The key to successful sales training is regular, ongoing training and coaching, with various formats to keep salespeople engaged, whilst also encouraging autonomy and creativity. Combine that with a culture that celebrates and rewards achievements and the results will speak for themselves! Sales training should never be overlooked or underestimated; doing so would be damaging to employees, and therefore your business’ results