Proper training ensures that salespeople have the necessary skills to succeed in selling. Many individuals with aspirations to become a salesperson feel that their outgoing personality is enough to succeed, however, this is not the case. There is much more skill involved in effectively selling products or services than simply being a “people-person.”
A sales training plan equips your sales staff with well-rounded communications skills, knowledge of sales methodologies, the ability to overcome objections, and a slew of other benefits that are absolutely essential to success, both at the individual level and for your business.
Knowing about the benefits of sales skill training alone is not enough, though. You need to take steps to plan out a proper program that ensures employees are well-prepared for the cut-throat nature of modern sales. This Instructable provides a step-by-step guide on how to properly plan your sales training program.
Define Skills & Competencies
Start with the basic skills and competencies you deem necessary for sales success in your company’s particular industry and for your specific company. Not every sales rep needs expertise in all sales skills, and even the competencies required for different salespeople within an enterprise can differ.
For example, positive body language is essential for outside sales reps who meet with prospective customers face-to-face while becoming competent at cold calling is imperative for inside sales reps. Possible skills and competencies include:
- Sales psychology
- Handling objectives
- Understanding the target market
- Knowledge of key competitors
- Entering data into a CRM tool
After you have established your list of skills and competencies, whittle the list down to the three or four most important ones in terms of what will help achieve 80 percent of your sales deliverables.
The Pareto principle is relevant if you are wondering why you need to narrow your list of competencies down to just three or four. Applying the idea, 20 percent of the possible sales skills and competencies result in 80 percent of the success. The overarching aim here is to have in place a clear definition of the main skills and competencies necessary for your sales reps to meet strategic company objectives, giving you a platform from which to start your training programs.
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Now that you know which skills and competencies to focus on, evaluate gaps between those desirables versus your sales reps’ current skill sets. New sales staff will most likely be at a beginner level in most of your key competencies, making it easy to identify those gaps. Staff with decent sales experience may possess high competencies in some areas and lack other necessary skills. It may be helpful to tailor a more individual training approach to address specific skills gaps for your more experienced sales reps.
A structured training program can quickly advance beginners from their current level of competency to an intermediate level, which itself makes a big difference. Experience and continuous training can then provide the means to progress to advanced levels of skills and competencies.
Begin with Impact Training
Impact training can impart knowledge of the necessary sales skills/competencies in a quick and effective manner to your sales teams, particularly those just starting out. The idea of impact training is that it revolves around an intensive two to three day period to make sales personnel aware of their expectations and build their basic knowledge to an intermediate level.
You can bring in an outside instructor to train employees in a lecture-style format here, you can use an in-house instructor if you can spare the resources, or you can consider other options, such as an online/virtual bootcamp-style course.
Leverage Sales Skills Training Platforms
Leveraging technology is a powerful way to improve sales training, reduce training costs, and automate time-consuming processes. There are a number of helpful platforms at your disposal, such as:
- Mindtickle, which is a sales readiness and enablement platform that helps you improve sales skills training with quizzes, assessments, and simulated sales scenarios.
- Lessonly, which is an online training software system that houses materials for learning about sales skills or other relevant employee skills.
- J.barrows, which is actually a website that provides an excellent library of training resources for sales, such as videos, articles, and webinars, accessible via a paid portal on the site.
In addition to providing proper training platforms, you may also want to consider a sales pipeline management tool like Keap, which offers a customizable dashboard which organizes your leads and tracks them, along with existing clients, throughout your sales process.
Incorporate Practical Training
Theoretical training is important at the outset to build up knowledge of core skills and competencies. However, any good sales training plan incorporates practical training that reflects real-world sales situations.
Even the most well-thought, well-presented lecture or video doesn’t replicate a live sales situation. Role-based training can be really useful in this regard, particularly for tricky subjects such as handling objections—optimal responses to overcoming objections are best learned in a practical rather than theoretical setting.
Make Sales Training an Ongoing Process
Sales training programs have a better chance of succeeding if you view sales training as an ongoing process of continuous learning and improvement. Customer expectations, products, target markets, and sales methodologies can all evolve quickly, necessitating an ongoing approach.
Furthermore, the only way to improve your training program is to find out which aspects are working and which aren’t, and you achieve this by constantly evaluating, asking for feedback, etc.
When it comes to sales training, the learning never stops, even for the most experienced reps. By implementing the above steps when planning your training programs, you’ll give all your salespeople the best chance of success, which in turn improves your success as a business.
Birbahadur Singh Kathayat is an entrepreneur, online marketer, and writer. With over 10 years of experience in online marketing and Content Marketing, he helps and guides budding business owners to manage, grow and scale their businesses. As an entrepreneur, he himself as director of LBSWebSoft, a leading digital media solution company.