Companies can’t build a sales team without proper training and effective sales training starts with hiring (more on that here). If you don’t hire the right person for the role, then it doesn’t matter how great of a training program you build. However, for most companies sales training simply consists of sending newly hired reps to shadow a top performing rep in the company. This system is not only terribly disruptive to your top performers, who will be taken away from what he does best, but a typical day for a top performer is drastically different from what a new rep will experience.
If you want to build a sales team that consistently produces superior results, then you have to deliver a consistent, scalable, and repeatable sales training product. I led a sales team that increased sales by 300% for our company. When people ask me how we did it, my answer is always the same: sales training.
If a new sales reps fail it is usually the company’s fault.
Let me repeat that for you: When you terminate a salesperson for poor performance, it’s ALWAYS your fault.
The first thirty days of a rep’s career are the most important. And guess what? They won’t close a single deal in that first month. The first month should be focused on learning. This focus is guided by a training program that utilizes self-paced home study, workshops, peer mentorship, field rides and shadow sessions. Your training calendar, such as this one here (Evergreen Sales Training Guide), should reflect the essential learning areas of your program. If you’re reading this and realize your company’s sales training is weak, then read SalesHood by Elay Cohen.
Regardless of industry or offering, there are some universal truths on sales training you should adopt. Training should be built around the most important skills and learning goals a rep needs in order to succeed in the company. Here are the five areas I focus on when building a training program.
Every team has a unique culture and this will make or break your team. Of the five critical components of sales training, this is by far the most important. Yet, most companies have no control of the culture the team has created and therefore don’t focus on culture in training. When you include culture in training you set a standard for how things get done on your team. It sets a precedence that how you succeed is more important than focusing solely on what you accomplished. A healthy culture will unify your team and teach them how to leverage the strengths of each existing team member.
Product training is a critical part of a comprehensive training program. All competitive training, including objection handling, should be covered in product training. However, while understanding your product and solution is a critical part of sales training, most companies spend too much time focusing solely on product training. It’s paramount, but it should not be your only focus. It’s important to find a balance.
Take time to do a deep dive on your sales process in order to teach reps how to move prospects to buyers in a linear, step-by-step process. Be specific. Share stories of real customers and how reps were able to successfully close deals. Once training is over and your reps begin their day to day work, they’ll naturally want to resort back to the habits and routines they’ve used before. Providing solid training on your sales process overrides that habit and lets them focus on the new skills they’ve obtained.
Ongoing skills development is a sign of a healthy sales culture. When this is done right, managers regularly schedule time with reps to review opportunities for improvement, from prospecting and pipeline management, to negotiation and pitching. Sales skills should always be a focus of the training. Even if you hire professionally trained sales associates, get in the habit of routinely practicing sales skills to ensure they stay sharp and up to date.
DAY IN THE LIFE
The last thing you want is a rep who returns home and isn’t sure how to design their day. It’s important that reps walk away from training with a personal schedule and a clear understanding of what tasks need to be accomplished with deadlines for each. As a manager you expect accurate and timely reporting in addition to setting activity expectations. Let’s make sure they know how and when to complete the critical tasks, such as submitting a forecast, drafting account plans, logging sales activities and submitting quotes and orders.
Once you’ve hired the right sales person, these 5 elements will help you create a sales team that’s consistent & scalable. Now get training.