Sales managers and CEOs are ultimately responsible for the success of their sales teams. Getting quality talent in place is one thing, but making sure your sales training methods give your team the tools, resources, and knowledge to effectively prospect leads and close sales is critical to building a successful sales business.
1. Create a Training Standard
Your sales process includes the steps and strategies your team uses to find, nurture, qualify, and convert leads into customers. Having an easy-to-understand process is one thing—but you also have to teach every new sales rep how to follow it to make sure everyone is using the same process. In addition, having a robust training plan helps each sales rep improve their performance every time they receive new training because expectations are set from the start.
Standardizing your training also promotes transparency and ensures nothing falls through the cracks. A few of the areas your sales process training should focus on include:
- How you find and qualify leads
- How you nurture new prospects
- What methods you use to schedule meetings with new prospects
- How you define the needs and pain points of prospects
- The ways you make offers, send proposals, and close deals
- How you deliver your products and services after a deal is closed with a new customer
We’ve also created a guide to developing a sales process that can help you get started.
Creating a system for training your team can help you make the most of your efforts. For example, software such as Monday.com makes it simple to organize, plan, and deliver training programs that produce top-performing salespeople. Visit Monday.com to sign up for a free trial.
2. Tailor Training Methods for Each Sales Role
While it’s important to have a range of different sales roles, it’s even more critical to train them with strategies that directly relate to their key responsibilities. For example, you’ll want to train sales development representatives (SDRs) on how to get past a gatekeeper when making cold calls and how to handle rejection.
To do this, it’s important to clearly define your sales roles and develop training based on the key responsibilities of each team member. Some roles will be focused on generating leads, some will be geared toward closing deals, and others will be focused on onboarding new customers.
For instance, you’ll want to teach account executives how to overcome objections, uncover pain points, and close deals. Account managers should be skilled in handling onboarding issues and finding opportunities to upsell and cross-sell your other products and services.
Some of the different sales roles you may want to consider include:
- Sales development representatives: These team members are responsible for cultivating leads with cold calls and emails, then sending interested leads to a sales executive for a demo or in-person meeting.
- Sales executives: These people take the qualified leads from SDRs and start the sales conversation, leading them to turn prospects into new customers.
- Account managers: After a deal is closed, account managers take over and help the new customer implement your products and services. They also handle upselling or cross-selling new solutions as they work with customers over time.
- Sales managers: A sales management role is key for keeping the entire sales team on track. Sales managers coach team members, assess performance, delegate tasks, and deliver reports to C-level executives.
3. Roll Out Your Customer Profiles
When training sales reps, it’s important to help them learn about their target audience and their potential customers. This helps sales reps to fully understand the typical pain points and common objections they will encounter so they can create the best case for customers to buy your products and services.
One great way to help your sales learn about your potential customers is to create a customer profile. A customer profile details your target customer’s needs by understanding their demographics, interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes, and background. Train sales reps on how to create customer profiles by talking through the sections and filling them out with more experienced sales reps, and then using them when researching the best ways to engage each prospect.
We’ve created a customer profile template with a list of questions that will help you craft your customer profile(s). You can print it as a PDF and fill out your answers, or download it as a Word document to fill it out digitally.
4. Integrate Role-playing Into Your Sales Training Methods
Whether you’re just starting out with hiring your first sales rep or you’re adding new hires to an experienced sales team, integrating sales-related role-playing activities into your training is an excellent way to help salespeople learn how to do their job. While many people find this exercise intimidating, it is a helpful learning strategy because it allows you to encounter real-world situations that you use to evaluate strengths and opportunities for improvement.
For example, if you’re hiring your first sales rep, engage them in role-playing on your own or find a mentor to help them practice how to communicate with prospects and customers. If you already have a sales team, utilize your highest-performing sales reps in mock sales demos to help them learn how to engage prospects, overcome common objections, and learn the most effective closing techniques.
5. Provide Hands-on Training on Important Tools & Software
Even the most talented and experienced salespeople aren’t likely to succeed if they don’t know how to use the sales software you use on a regular basis. Part of any new hire training should include detailed demonstrations on how to use the software that will help them do their job well. Examples of software many sales organizations use include:
- A customer relationship management (CRM) platform to manage prospects, opportunities, and deals, such as Salesforce.
- Scheduling software to streamline managing meetings with calendar integrations, such as Calendly.
- Video conferencing tools for internal meetings and remote meetings with prospects and customers, such as Zoom.
- Task management tools that help keep everyone on track, such as Monday.com.
6. Invest in Professional Education Opportunities
The skills and sales strategies your sales team needs change constantly, so you need to invest in the time and budget to allow your team members to grow, learn new strategies, and develop into expert salespeople. The type of professional development you provide depends on the size of your organization, budget, and the learning preferences of your team.
For example, if you have a limited budget and only a few sales reps, you could focus on many of the free or lost cost e-learning courses. If you have a growing team of sales reps who thrive on networking and in-person learning, investing in sending them to a well-respected sales conference is an excellent choice. A few examples of professional development opportunities include:
- E-learning opportunities
- Sales conferences
- In-person training programs
- Mentorship programs
- Corporate training programs
Want to learn more about some of the best sales training programs on the market? Check out our in-depth article on the top 21 sales training programs, courses, and seminars.
7. Infuse Your Training Program With Incentives
Fostering friendly competition in your sales training program sets the stage for high expectations. For example, you could give rewards for completing training modules or reaching milestones in their training program. Plus, you don’t have to have a huge budget to provide effective incentives. You can help motivate your sales team by offering things such as:
- Public awards and recognition
- Gift cards to their favorite restaurant or store
- Extra paid time off
- Flexible work hours
- Promotions or title changes
- Bonuses for reaching “stretch” goals or generating more revenue than expected
Learn more about the most effective types of sales contests that motivate sales teams (and how to track them effectively) in our article about 11 sales contests ideas that you can use with your team.
8. Evaluate & Assess Performance Regularly
Sales training doesn’t stop after onboarding new employees. It should be a dynamic and continual process where you measure performance over time to find opportunities for improvement and discover where team members are already thriving.
Regularly assess every team members’ performance—whether you choose to do it monthly, quarterly, or annually is up to you and what works best for your business. Doing so gives you the opportunity to tailor a training plan for each individual. For example, you might find one of your sales development representatives has a hard time getting past gatekeepers to talk to with decision-makers. In that case, you can find specific training to help them improve and gain confidence.
9. Build a Buddy System
Mentorship is a great training tool for new hires. It helps new employees get up to speed quickly, but a great side effect is that it develops leadership skills for more experienced sales team reps and demonstrates readiness for promotions and new responsibilities.
For example, if you notice one of your senior account executives thrives in training new hires through mentorship, you may consider promoting them to a sales manager position to best utilize their skills. It can be easy to miss the potential of leaders in your company if they aren’t given the opportunity to shine—and mentorship is an excellent way to let your employees practice leadership skills.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When should sales training take place?
Sales training should take place during the first 90 days of employment to get them up to speed and equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to do their jobs well. Furthermore, continual sales training should be a part of your overall sales culture so your sales team can become more skilled and confident over time.
Should my business use in-house or external (third-party) training programs?
Every small business is different, and the type of sales training you provide depends on your culture and budget. In-house training is typically less expensive than hiring a third party, but it can still be effective. It’s a great idea to have a combination of internal and external training and professional development opportunities depending on your budget, the learning style of your team members, and size of your organization.
What are the risks of not having a well-thought-out sales training program?
Without a meaningful sales training program, you risk having team members who don’t have the skills and knowledge to do their best work. Furthermore, they will lack confidence and struggle with motivation, which can also lead to turnover.
Sales training should be an integral part of your organizational sales culture. Developing intentional strategies for training new hires and providing ongoing training helps your entire sales team perform their best, close more deals, and stay motivated.