The profession of sales is changing rapidly. Buyers are now more informed than in the past and have new expectations. Today’s competitive threats are evolving. Deals are more complicated and often take longer to close.
More than ever, sales professionals need sales training programs that can help them keep pace with the demands of the modern sales process.
Sales training pays off in many ways. A recent study by Accenture found that every dollar spent on training got a $4.53 return, generating an ROI of 353%.
The challenge is that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for sales training. Every organization offers distinct products and/or services, has a specific go-to-market (GTM) strategy, and faces different competitors.
Your sales professionals may have the same job titles as teams at other companies —account executive, business development rep, sales manager—but have a diverse set of professional and personal experiences.
The best sales training and development programs are tailored to the unique needs of your organization and sales force.
But how can you deliver sales training at scale that leverages the strengths and addresses the skill gaps of each sales professional on your team? By creating an approach customized for your organization, sales leaders can ensure that everyone gets the training they need to be successful.
What is Sales Training?
The goal of sales training is to improve sales performance. This, in turn, can lead to increased revenue and profitability for your organization. Sales training provides new and veteran sales professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to meet sales targets and succeed in their roles.
Sales training begins with the assessment and onboarding of new hires. This is a systematic process designed to welcome, train, and engage new sales professionals into an organization.
An effective sales training and onboarding program includes a company overview, information on your industry, target market, ideal customer profile (ICP), features and benefits of your products and/or services, and sales methodology. It also should cover hard and soft selling skills such as cold calls, discovery calls, and objection handling.
Sample Sales Training Topics
- Using sales tools and platforms
- Prospecting techniques
- Building relationships with clients
- Overcoming objections
- Closing deals
- Delivering product messaging
- Creating proposals and presentations
- Running meetings and presentations
Ongoing sales training begins once new hires have completed the sales onboarding process to ensure the team always has the most up-to-date competitive, customer, and product information.
5 Benefits of Sales Training
By investing in effective sales training, you can ensure that your sales team has the skills and knowledge they need to generate results—and improve your bottom line. Here are five benefits of sales training.
1. Increased Sales Productivity
When salespeople are properly trained, they can work more effectively and close more deals. This leads to an increase in revenue for the organization.
2. Improved Buyer Insight
Salespeople who are properly trained are better equipped to handle buyer inquiries and provide an overall better experience. This leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
3. Higher Profits
Sales training can directly impact the bottom line. By increasing productivity and improving customer service, sales training leads to higher profits for the organization.
4. Faster Growth
Sales training accelerates the organization’s growth by helping salespeople close more deals and bringing in new customers. Companies that invest in training are 57% more effective at sales than their competitors.
5. Increased Morale and Retention
When salespeople are successful, they are more engaged and motivated. This leads to increased morale within the sales team, higher retention rates, and a more positive and stable work environment.
7 Outcomes of Effective Sales Training
An investment in sales training is an essential part of doing business in today’s ultra-competitive environment. A repeatable sales training program simply enables your sales team to perform at the highest level.
With the proper training, your sales team will accurately understand a customers’ needs and wants, present the value proposition of your product or service, build trust and credibility, engage prospects in meaningful dialogue that progresses the sale, improve the predictability of your sales funnel, and more. Read on for seven key outcomes of effective sales training.
1. Close More Sales
Well-trained sales teams are simply more effective. With the right program, sales professionals are better able to identify and qualify prospects, engage buyers, generate pipeline, and close new business.
2. Improve Communication Skills
One of the most critical skills for salespeople is communication. They need to be able to engage with prospects, customers, and teammates effectively.
Sales training can help your salespeople become better communicators by teaching them how to listen attentively, build rapport, ask questions, and give dynamic presentations that advance the sale.
3. Master Sales Methodology
Your sales methodology is the process that your sales team uses to identify and qualify potential customers, build relationships, nurture prospects, overcome objections, and close deals.
By teaching your organization’s sales methodology, you can make sure your team is using a consistent approach, staying organized, working efficiently, and being as effective as possible throughout the sales process.
4. Overcome Objections
One of the biggest challenges sales professionals face is handling prospect objections. Objection handling done well is an opportunity to address the buyer’s concerns, change their mindset, and move the sale forward.
Sales training can help your team overcome objections by teaching them how to identify and address common customer objections, which will help them close more deals and increase revenue.
5. Develop Presentation Skills
Salespeople need to be able to clearly communicate the value of your product or service to potential customers wherever they are. Salespeople today need both in-person and virtual presentation skills.
Teaching virtual selling skills and techniques will allow your sales team to nurture prospects, share information, conduct demos, and host meetings with prospects successfully from any location.
6. Leverage Sales Technology
The average sales professional now uses an average of 10 tools to close deals. Make sure your sales team is proficient with the latest technology and knows how and when to use tools and platforms effectively.
7. Understand Sales Analytics
Lastly, sales analytics training helps sales professionals understand important data and metrics for their role. They learn how to use data to make decisions, track progress, and identify areas for improvement.
General vs. Role-Specific Sales Training
Sales training can be delivered in various formats including in-person classroom-based instruction, instructor-led training, self-paced online courses, webinars, and one-on-one coaching.
Most sales training programs tend to be designed for the “average” sales professional. They cover general topics, regardless of the learner’s role within your organization, industry expertise, or years of experience.
While this type of sales training can be beneficial, it is not always the most effective approach. A new hire will likely need different training than an experienced professional who wants to sharpen their skills.
This is where role-specific sales training comes in. Role-specific training is customized to the learner’s position within the organization. This type of training helps sales professionals understand their unique position within the sales process and how they can best contribute to closing deals.
Sales Leadership: Designed for sales leaders. It covers topics such as building a sales team, goal setting, developing top performers, tracking progress, and managing budgets.
Sales Management: Designed for hands-on sales managers. It includes topics such as building a sales plan, setting expectations, providing feedback, and managing difficult conversations.
Inside Sales Reps: Designed for outward-facing business development reps. It covers prospecting, cold calling, and meeting scheduling.
6 Essential Factors of Successful Sales Training
Effective sales training requires more than just teaching your sales team the basics of your product or service. These six factors are crucial to the rollout of a successful sales training program.
1. Leadership Support:
Sales professionals need to know that their leaders are invested in their development and success. Leaders who are actively involved in the sales training process signal to their team that they are committed to their development and want them to succeed.
2. Clear Expectations:
Leadership support starts with a clear vision for the sales team and setting expectations for each member.
3. Ongoing Education:
Success also involves ongoing support and resources such as regular formal and informal check-ins, one-on-one meetings, and performance reviews.
4. Role-Specific Training:
Providing role-specific training in addition to general sales training helps each member of the team understand their unique position within the sales process and how they can best contribute to closing deals.
Sales training must be relevant and applicable to each salesperson’s day-to-day work. Nothing hurts engagement more than courses that are out-of-date or off-topic. Salespeople need to see the value in their learning and how it can help them close more deals.
Effective sales training must motivate, engage, and challenge learners so that they stay invested and retain information long after the initial training.
Aligning Sales Coaching and Sales Training
Coaching and sales training go together like fertilizer on sod. While training is the foundation, ongoing coaching helps sales professionals identify and improve areas of weakness as they implement that training—to help the grass grow.
Sales coaching gives sales professionals the feedback and support they need to implement what they have learned and adjust anything that is off-track. This type of ongoing coaching is essential for long-term success.
We recommend starting sales coaching with an initial assessment to identify strengths and weaknesses, goal setting, and a customized action plan to reach those goals. This type of guidance is essential for helping salespeople learn new skills and improve their performance.
The best sales relationships are the ones built on trust and mutual respect. Salespeople need to feel comfortable sharing their successes and failures with their coach. And sales coaches need to be open and honest with their feedback.
Training for Sales Success
Are you training your sales professionals for success in today’s economic climate? Effective sales training will help your sales reps reach their full potential and become top performers in your organization—and help you stay ahead of the competition.
Download The 10 Most Common Sales Management Mistakes to learn how to avoid common pitfalls and lead a high-performing sales team.
Ready to transform your sales training program? Let’s start a conversation.