It is no secret that companies that take the time and invest in sales training will have an advantage over their competitors. The question is: what kind of training should we be providing? After all, sales reps can only improve and develop their skills if we execute on training processes that are customized – there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to selling.
Here’s the dilemma.
Sales-facing organizations are not hitting revenue targets. Sales managers would say it is because of a declining market, or a lack of talent. But is this the case or are they masking the problem?
When a company grows, sales training becomes a critical part of the organizational process. It teaches sales reps methodologies and gives them a roadmap to stay on track during the customer interaction instead of simply “winging it” on a sales call. By empowering sales reps with proper sales techniques, like giving them the tools to read signals that indicate that a prospect is ready to buy, enables the sales rep to swoop in at the most opportune time and close the deal.
So what techniques should we be using to train sales reps?
If your reps don’t know the ins-and-outs of the product, even the most successful performers will fall behind. By enabling your sales force to understand product details, you will in turn boost their confidence with each touchpoint. By providing sufficient training on the product, it becomes easier to identify customer issues. E-learning is made just for that.
E-learning enables sales teams to acquire product knowledge on-the-go. Videos will be a big trend this year when it comes to training and coaching, as well as helping track progress to ensure everyone has access to the same materials.
A great example of e-learning is L’Oréal’s e- program. After seeing gaps in product knowledge, the cosmetics giant created videos that provided in-depth, memorable product knowledge that resonated and stuck in the minds of sales reps.
Sales Performance International discusses why too much sales training at one time often hinders the learning process. Leadership is interested in developing a highly competent sales force, but the truth is, that salespeople — just like anyone — cannot retain too much information all at once.The study also found that when training is squeezed into a short period, money is wasted as approximately 60% of the content is forgotten within 3-5 weeks.
Ted Talks are a good example of how micro-learning works. Industry leaders discuss topics in digestible 20-minute increments. Incorporating this methodology to training in easily, manageable intervals, works to keep them engaged and helps deliver information they can retain.
#3 Providing Detailed Feedback
Most talent development happens in the field. But when reps come back to the office, that’s the perfect time to offer analysis and feedback. Sales managers can emphasize the importance of listening to and understanding customer needs, and help sales reps avoid push tactics to sell a product by providing direct feedback to real-world situation.
Competent leaders need to listen in on sales calls. They should be reviewing recordings and analyzing performance to provide timely and specific feedback. Ideally, this should be happening immediately after the customer interaction.
Walgreens offers a good feedback loop example after the “Well Experience” implementation, which enabled field training by providing hands-on experience in a simulated environment. By using games like merchandise scavenger hunts, sales teams were able to get familiar by shadowing in stores to figure out the best layouts for more customer consumption.
By reassuring your sales reps that they will succeed if they really internalize materials that they learn from training, you will help them realize that they can be confident when interacting with customers while fostering their natural skills in the field, and remotely. Couple this with frequent, flexible, and manageable education, and you will be able to take your team from effective listeners to selling rock stars.
How effective are you in training your sales reps? Are they retaining product information or getting too much information all at once that hinders them from performing? It’s time to focus on your training strategy to enable your sales force to see greater results.