Implementing an effective training programme is vital for any organisation attempting to improve sales performance, as well as overall business results. However, there are certain steps that can be taken to raise the standard of sales training and enhance the results generated by it.
With this in mind, this article provides 10 clever tricks you can make use of, in order to get the maximum from your sales training strategy and ensure your investment in this area is money well spent.
1. Make Use of e-Learning
According to CSO Insights, e-learning is now the second most popular sales training format, trailing only classroom-based sales training courses. Businesses that fail to make use of it are putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage, and salespeople will be unable to benefit from the flexibility it offers.
“One of the biggest advantages to e-learning is that your staff can educate themselves wherever they are,” says Sheila Eugenio, writing for Entrepreneur.com. “Everything is readily available.”
2. Calculate Your ROI
It is not sufficient to simply invest in a training programme and assume it is working as it should be. Instead, it is imperative that the return on investment is calculated and continuously monitored.
Essentially, in order to do this, you need to compare sales performance before and after training. Utilise the data available to look for improvements and take action if the ROI is not sufficient.
3. Do Not Neglect Sales Managers
Overall responsibility for organising sales training courses tends to fall on the shoulders of sales managers, so it is important to make sure they are equipped with the right skills to carry out their role.
Nevertheless, one of the findings of the CSO Insights 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report was the fact that 18.6 percent of businesses fail to provide their sales managers with any training at all. Do not fall into this trap, as neglecting sales managers training can have knock-on effects on all team members.
4. Produce Quality Content
Next, it is important that the content you produce for training purposes is effective, well structured and easy to consume. This will help salespeople to absorb new information and can be referred back to for reinforcement.
“Knowledge transfer is based on content,” says Tamara Schenk, Research Director of CSO Insights. “Training content is the essential prerequisite for any kind of sales training.”
5. Use Coaching Effectively
Training sessions, on their own, can be inefficient, which is why leading organisations back them up with coaching. While training can often be more general, with many salespeople attending sessions at the same time, coaching is more of a one-to-one activity, with sales leaders ensuring that the knowledge is being put into practice.
According to the CSO Insights 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report, sales coaching can improve average win rates, taking them from 41.7 percent when companies adopt an informal coaching strategy, all the way up to 59.1 percent with a dynamic approach. It is crucial that coaching is carried out regularly and progress is measured.
6. Embrace Mobile Learning
In addition to taking advantage of e-learning methods to teach and reinforce information, it is also becoming essential to embrace the concept of ‘m-learning’, where training can be accessed from a smartphone or tablet.
To take advantage of mobile technology in this way, it is crucial that training content is published in formats that are mobile-friendly. For those with a larger budget, dedicated training apps can also be beneficial.
7. Provide Social Selling Training
Increasingly, the most effective salespeople are able to leverage social media, but social selling is a practice that needs to be implemented through training, so that staff know the do’s and don’ts.
Unfortunately, social selling training is ranked as the training service most in need of a major redesign. The key to this is to integrate social selling into the core sales processes and clarify how social selling benefits salespeople. Too often, this type of training is reduced to tool training for LinkedIn or other social media sites.
8. Include Customer Service Components
In the past, customer service has typically been seen as an after-sale activity, which is the sole responsibility of the customer service department. Yet, this is no longer sufficient to keep customers happy.
Instead, sales organisations need to adopt an approach that says that the customer experience is everybody’s responsibility. This means including customer service components in more traditional sales training, in order to ensure sales reps are prepared to go the extra mile and offer additional value.
9. Utilise Role-Playing
It may not be a favourite technique among all of your salespeople, but role-playing remains an important component of sales training, because it teaches sales team members to think on their feet.
Through role-plays, realistic sales conversations and challenges can be worked through. This can help to eliminate more scripted sales conversations, which can put customers off. The secret to a great role-playing component, however, is an assessment element at the end, where performance is analysed and scrutinised.
10. Avoid Long Training Sessions
Finally, training sessions can be expensive, not only in terms of the direct costs, but also in terms of the costs associated with taking salespeople away from their day job. For this reason, there is often a temptation to try to squeeze as much into each training session as possible, leading to longer seminars or lessons.
However, with attention spans now shorter than ever before, it is vital that sessions are structured to capture attention quickly, provide information and avoid testing the limits of people’s ability to focus.
An effective sales training strategy can have a dramatic impact on key sales performance indicators, including win rates and quota attainment. By adopting the ten tricks listed, organisations can improve the quality of their training, generate a greater ROI and benefit from improved business results.
Sales training is one of the most frequently covered topics at Miller Heiman Group workshops and events. To find out more about these events, and to register attendance at them, please click here.
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specialises in developing professional selling skills in the sales team and helps organisations to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales, service and leadership development training.
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