There are many different types of salespeople who work in a range of industries across the world, and there’s no one magic secret to training them to do their best work and win the most customers. However, as a sales manager, it’s critical to invest in continual training and development for your sales team. This helps them feel supported and grows confidence in their selling strategies. We’ve compiled a list of 11 effective sales training ideas you can start using today.
1. Create a Sales Onboarding Plan for New Hires
One of the most important things a sales manager can do to set sales reps up for success is to create a robust, intentional onboarding plan. This involves teaching salespeople about your sales culture, training them on the software and tools the team uses, ensuring they know how to follow the sales process, and making the expectations and responsibilities of their specific role clear.
2. Role Play How to Handle Common Objections
Overcoming objections is a key skill that successful salespeople should learn to master. It’s an excellent idea to have a monthly sales meeting where everyone brings an objection they’ve faced with a prospect and role play how to overcome it. For example, one sales rep might bring the objection of a prospect worrying it will take too much time to change to the new software you are selling and not having enough buy-in from other stakeholders in the company.
They can practice with one of their colleagues or a sales manager how to overcome the objection by saying something like, “We have a client experience team that will be with you every step of the way as you make this change, and we are happy to set up an additional meeting to get other members of your team on board about how switching to our software will improve your business.”
3. Send Your Team to Conferences & External Training Events
It’s great to conduct internal training within your company, but it’s also important to invest in sending your salespeople to external training events. There they’ll get the opportunity to learn from experts in their field, network with other sales professionals they wouldn’t normally engage with, and learn new sales techniques and strategies.
Some sales training programs are held in-person, but there’s a wide range of virtual training available that can be just as valuable. It’s a good idea to invest in both to create a well-rounded professional development program.
Pro tip: While HubSpot is well known for offering a free, easy-to-use customer relationship management (CRM), they also offer the HubSpot Academy Sales Training program to help sales reps learn new skills and improve their sales strategies.
4. Create a List of Books, Podcasts & Blogs
There’s no shortage of sales books, podcasts, and blogs that help salespeople hone their craft and learn how to close deals more effectively. You can start a book club within your organization where you read the same book and have a weekly discussion about what you’ve learned and how you’re implementing it into your sales strategy. Alternatively, listen to sales podcasts during team meetings and talk about what you found most beneficial afterward.
5. Encourage Your Sales Reps to Earn New Certifications
Earning new sales certifications not only helps your sales reps learn new skills and improve their selling methods, but it also distinguishes them as experts in their industry and increases their credibility. There’s a wide range of certifications every sales rep can work towards to become leaders in your sales team.
For example, The National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) offers a Certified Sales Leadership Professional certification, and Sales and Marketing Executives International offers a Certified Sales Executive (CSE) program. Consider including a budget for sales certifications into your overall sales organization plan to make it easy for your sales reps to pursue these opportunities.
6. Record & Analyze Sales Calls
Another way to effectively train sales teams is to record sales calls, whether they are in person, over the phone, or done via video conferencing. You can learn a lot about analyzing how the prospect responds to what a sales rep says, especially if you can view their body language in a video call. It’s important for sales managers to provide praise as well as constructive criticism and feedback. Review what worked well and practice what could have been done better.
For example, if you notice a sales rep goes straight into their pitch about your software without doing some discovery into their how a prospect currently does things to uncover their pain points, you could say, “Great job explaining what we do, but first learn more about the prospect to build rapport and find out how we can best help them.”
Note: Laws differ regarding the disclosure requirements associated with the recording of audio and video calls. Most require that you notify participants that the call is being recorded for training purposes. Be sure to check the requirements in your area.
7. Use a Mentorship Program
Mentoring is particularly helpful for new sales hires, but it can also be beneficial for struggling sales reps who need one-on-one help. Pair your new hires or low-performing reps with experienced, high-performing salespeople so they can learn what sales strategies work best.
For example, they can start by shadowing their mentor on sales calls. They can also do their own role playing and the mentor can help by sitting on the mentee’s sales calls to provide feedback and assist when needed. This helps your team to watch and experience what makes a sales rep successful and gives them a trusted resource they can turn to with questions about what they’ve learned.
8. Have Fun With Sales Training Games
Sales training doesn’t have to be boring. Infusing some fun into training encourages rapport and brings your sales team together while they learn new strategies and improve their skills. You can do things such as pair together teams of sales reps to have a “pitch contest” on your products or even imaginary ones to make it more interesting.
You can also have pop quizzes about each of your products and whoever gets the most questions right gets a small prize, such as a gift card. Sales managers should be creative with “fun” training and allow their sales team to contribute ideas for this type of training.
9. Conduct an Analysis on Your Competitors
Understanding the top competitors in your industry helps sales reps understand certain objections prospects might have if they are using a competitor’s product that offers something yours does not. It can give you insight into what features and services you are lacking and where you stand above the competition—revealing what features you should showcase most during sales calls, especially if none of your competitors offer something similar.
Furthermore, it makes each sales rep an industry expert and helps them sound incredibly knowledgeable when talking with prospects. For example, it’s common for a prospect to ask how your product or service is different from competitors. Being able to competently answer this question builds trust and makes the prospect feel like you’re trying to help them find the right solution (even if it’s not your product) rather than merely trying to make a quick sale.
10. Share Success Stories & Challenges
Every sales rep knows what it’s like to feel like they are in a month where they just can’t close any deals. In that case, it can be hard to watch a colleague who is having a great month. While sales reps are notoriously competitive, it’s just as important to foster a sales culture that is supportive too. One way to do this is to have monthly meetings where sales reps share their biggest challenges and successes. This creates a natural training environment where they can learn from one another.
For example, a struggling rep might share they can’t seem to get prospects to commit after talking about pricing. Through conversation with their peers, they might discover they are talking about pricing too soon before building enough value in the prospect’s mind. Another rep might share they’ve been using customer testimonials with success and encourage other reps to start using this strategy in the same way.
11. Conduct Email Training
Some excellent sales reps find talking to customers to come naturally, but struggle with writing. Have workshops where you train your sales teams to write concise, grammatically correct, and accurate sales emails. Additionally, teach your reps to include calls to action in their emails and create clear next steps so deals don’t get stuck in the pipeline.
For example, a follow-up email after a demo could look like:
Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today about how our software can help your business thrive and save time. After learning more about how you currently do things, here are the main three things I think we can help with:
- Saving time with our automated invoice system
- Reducing costs compared to your current process
- Improving your customer service with timely billing and payment options
I’d like to set up a quick call with you to go over any other questions you have and what we need to do to move forward with next steps. Does next Tuesday at 3 p.m. work for you?
<Rep name and contact information>
For more examples of sales follow-up emails, read our article about email templates for any situation.
Sales training is an integral part of any sales organization, and it doesn’t stop when you onboard a new hire. Infuse your sales meetings with a variety of training practices and invest in your team with professional development opportunities to help them become expert salespeople who close more deals and increase revenue.