“Just the two of us, we can make it if we try. Just the two of us, building castles in the sky. Just the two of us, you and I”
Sales training is straightforward when you are a start-up in the early stages. You can’t help but find yourself murmuring the works of Bill Withers as your brand new rep absorbs your sales process, takes in your sales training techniques and sees how you get things done.
You might even bring a second one onboard, crafting handy versions of yourself in the process. Life is good, and it feels a bit like you’re on easy street—at least concerning training new hires.
But then you start to scale, which, of course, equals good times. However, as you find yourself more entwined with the day-to-day aspects of business, giving new recruits your full-on attention is going to prove more and more difficult.
Mo Money, Mo Problems
The problem soon becomes two-fold: finding the time to train reps is one thing, but making sure they have a continuous learning process is another issue. Without systematic, ongoing learning and reinforcement, 50 percent of learnt content is not retained in the first five weeks, according to Sales Performance International.
Smaller companies – particularly in startups – often change their messages and pitches in regards to their sales communications. Which is why it’s extra important for them to have a mechanism in place that will make sure the whole team can absorb regular changes. Otherwise you risk having people give prospects different messaging.
That’s why it’s essential to create sales training techniques that will not only teach new reps how to excel at their job but also provide a continuous learning process that onboards new reps and ensures old ones continue to perform. And it just so happens that we’ve collated some examples together to help you create a sales training process for your employees.
Making Sure it’s Always as Good as the First Time
If you want to give every member of the team the chance to be version 2.0 of your best hire, merely providing them with a few manuals and the odd workshop won’t cut much ice. You will soon hit a stumbling block, and the vision you created is lost, which slowly etches away at the identity of the company.
To avoid such a scenario, you need to implement a set of high-quality sales training techniques that give new team members the best chance of continued success. Nail your training exercises, and your knowledge will transfer to new reps.
The Best Sales Training Techniques
It’s a good idea to review all training options available before deciding on specific techniques that will work with your organization. This will give you the chance to build a framework that works for your team and gets the best out of them.
Courses for Horses
Courses can take place in person and online, offering employees flexibility to choose an option that works around their schedule. A training course can also help employees strengthen skills they have already learnt. Explore the idea of curating and personalizing your own course, so attendees learn your sales knowledge directly—even if you aren’t involved.
Assign a Mentor
Millennials have surpassed Generation X to become the largest workforce in the US— and they are becoming increasingly more dependent on mentoring programs. Mentorships provide ongoing support, training and can focus on a particular area of skills, including improving as a sales professional.
Stat Attack: The majority of millennials (68%) with a mentor are twice as likely to stay with an organization for more than five years, according to a Deloitte Millennial Survey from 2016.
Workshops help to get everyone invested and feeling like they are part of the team. New employees improve their skills, while group exercises help embed them into the culture. Tailor a workshop so new hires achieve what they need the most. By creating an environment where participants have fun, they are more likely to open up and be more invested in solving problems/challenges.
Expert consultants can add an extra dynamic to your sales training techniques. They have in-depth knowledge of market trends, will likely be competent with sales tools and provide a unique take through their own experiences, which might complement your ones. Sometimes it can also be good to provide employees with an external perspective, as they may have more respect for advice from an “expert” instead of an internal speaker.
Resources for Continuous Use
Even when your team members aren’t directly learning sales training techniques, it’s good to have material readily available. Whether you provide access to stored documents on Basecamp, Google Drive or a Trello card, keep a list of frequently asked questions employees can use if they need to brush up on their knowledge. A wiki/guide with links to important processes can also be helpful.
Conferences have the bonus of being a great place to network as well as learn new sales training techniques. Your team gets to listen to proven leaders for inspiration and motivation before networking and possibly generating sales meetings with prospects.
If you can’t train new hires yourself, do the next best thing—have them shadow one of your best reps. Put them with someone who can deconstruct what they do and convey it in a way that makes the information easily digestible. Have newer hires join your best reps on sales meetings, let them listen in on phone calls with prospects and see how they prepare notes and strategies.
Scripts help new employees quickly understand what is required of them and how to sell in the company’s tone of voice. They act as a good starting point for building confidence and can help new hires to cut out some of the basic mistakes—such as talking at prospects. Instead, they will learn how to listen to a potential customer’s pain points.
As Debussy once said: “music is what happens between the notes”. It’s the same for sales reps—only replace music with your prospects. Make sure new hires continuously practice listening to what their prospect says, taking a few moments to digest before responding with a basic summary of what was said. Doing this shows they are listening and will help build trust early in the call.
Sales Training Techniques 101
There is always a new challenge to face, whether it’s fresh sales methods or competitors with more resources. Sales training is a continuous cycle of growth—it’s an ongoing process aimed at getting the best out of team members, both new and old.
Even some of the oldest sales training techniques in the book still provide strong results that will upskill your team members. The key is testing the right ones and implementing them as part of your strategy.
Organizations that offer continuous training see 34 percent more first-year sales reps achieve their quota, according to a survey by Accenture. Give your employees the best chance to succeed by putting them on a journey to self-growth. If your team learn to absorb new techniques like a sponge, they will be better placed to win more deals and become A-star reps.