The NBA fans would be aware of the shocking news of 2019 – Toronto Raptor defeats Golden State Warrior to win their first-ever NBA championship.

Winning against Golden State Warriors for the very first time was indeed a big deal for the Canadian team. This victory wouldn’t have been possible without proper training and unwavering determination.

Sales is no different from this game of basketball. Just like the players of  Toronto Raptors, your team needs effective sales training to win the game of sales.

Sales-training

A well-trained sales team is the best strategy of all for increasing business success rate. It drives profits and help companies in meeting their revenue goals.

The right sales training prepares new sales reps and helps them maximize their productivity. Besides, it also helps in getting the best out of your existing sales team.

RAIN Group Center for Sales Research conducted a study and analyzed data from 472 sellers as well as executives. They asked the participants to rank their organization’s sales training on several factors. The ones with the highest overall sales training rating had an average win rate of 58%. While the others had an average win rate of just 47%.

“A winning effort begins with preparation” – Joe Gibbs

Benefits of sales training

Benefits of sales training

In this modern business world, you’re up against some serious competition. Businesses are doing all that it takes to be the frontrunner and win more customers.

Slightest mistake and the ball will be in your competitor’s court (they will lure away your potential customers).

“If you don’t take care of your customer, your competition will” – Bob Hooey

Prospects won’t give your sales reps a second chance. Which is why it is necessary to train the sales reps for impressing and converting the potential prospects into paying customers.

For every dollar a company spends in training, it receives about $4.53 in return – which is equal to a 353% ROI. – Highspot

Effective sales training can benefit your company in many ways:

1. Increase in sales

The better your sales reps get at selling, the more deals they will close. A proper understanding of the sales process and techniques helps them handle difficult sales situations.

Sales training has helped several top performers in fulfilling their sales targets. Hence, it is deemed effective by sales professionals.

Increase in sales

Top sales performers are almost 2X more likely to rate their sales training as effective. – Marketo

Once sales reps crack the selling code, the chances of boosting sales increases too. Learning new selling skills helps in making better profits for the organization.

2. A better understanding of what makes a prospect buy

You will rarely make a big investment without any reason. There would be a need or a problem that propels you to purchase the product/service.

A-better-understanding

Without understanding what influences a prospect to buy, it is difficult to convert them into paying customers. A good sales training will motivate the sales reps to focus on the psychological and underlying reasons why people buy.

Understanding prospect behavior helps create a better rapport with them. It makes prospects comfortable and eases them towards making the purchase.

“If you want to sell more, than you better know why customers buy” – Steve Ferrante

3. Better up-selling and cross-selling

Another benefit of sales training is that it prepares sales reps to capitalize on upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

Better-up-selling-and-cross-selling

We all are aware that up-selling and cross-selling is another way of increasing business revenue. So, your sales reps should be trained to identify and grab such opportunities for boosting sales.

“Opportunities don’t often come along. So, when they do, you have to grab them” – Audrey Hepburn

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Methods of sales training

Most of the sales managers pick a basic method or platform to train their sales reps. They try to replicate the type of training they had received in the early stages of their own career.

Such outdated ways cannot help in training the modern sales reps who need to deal with smart buyers. It is essential to move beyond the conventional training platforms and adopt new approaches for preparing a stronger sales team.

Old ways won’t open new doors – anonymous

Let’s see the various ways sales reps can be trained.

1. Online courses

Online courses

Thanks to Google, you can find courses for almost anything and everything online. From photography to pilot training as well as sales training.

So why not take the help of these online courses to train your reps. All you need to do is find the right sales training courses and acquaint your sales reps with them.

Companies that switch to online sales training save 30 to 70 % on travel costs and lost productivity. – TOPYX

These online courses can help your sales reps in sharpening their capabilities and developing new skill sets. The best thing is that these courses are available 24X7. Making it easier for your sales reps to log in as per their schedule.

58 % of the total employees prefer self-paced learning.

2. Formal sales coaching program

Formal sales coaching program

Companies that provide quality coaching can reach seven% greater annual revenue growth.– The Center For Sales Strategy

Sales is getting tougher. Sales managers are expected to wear multiple hats and take care of various things. With the increasing responsibilities, sometimes it gets difficult to provide timely in-house training to the sales reps. Which is why companies should consider having a formal sales coaching program.

Companies having a formal coaching program witness 91.2% of overall quota attainment, compared to 84.7% quota attainment for the companies without a formal coaching process. – The Center For Sales Strategy

A professional sales coach helps your sales reps in staying on the right track and speeds up their progress. They monitor the sales reps and provide guidance at the right time decreasing the dependency on a manager. Formal sales coaching program helps improve sales performance and achieve desired results quickly.

Sales reps receiving 30 minutes or less of sales coaching get a win rate of 43%, while those that receive at least 2 hours of coaching per week have a win rate of 56%.

3. Conference

sales-training-conference

Sales training shouldn’t be confined to your office meeting rooms. Encourage your sales reps to attend various sales conferences where they will get to learn from industry leaders.

Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and diligence” – Abigail Adams

Sales conferences not only offer networking opportunities but also empower salespeople to enhance their proficiency. Besides, they will know the market trend and what buyers are expecting.

However, make sure your sales reps bring back value. They shouldn’t end up wasting their time on distractive thoughts during the conference.

Ask your sales reps to share their learning with other members of the team. They can make a small presentation on all the essential points covered during the conference. This way, they can ponder over what they’ve heard and even educate others.

Power is shared by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it – anonymous

Database and internet

Database and internet

Yes, you need to train your sales reps, but that doesn’t mean you should spoon-feed them with information. Build an environment of self-directed learning.

The internet is flooded with information. Sales reps can find everything from best selling practices to strategies shared by top experts.

So, ask them to continuously research new sales strategies and solutions to the challenges they face while selling.

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. – Zora Neale Hurston

Conduct knowledge sharing sessions once every two weeks where the team can share ideas, strategies, and tactics they’ve learned.

Create a sales playbook and a database containing all the resources for the commonly asked sales questions in a tool like Samepage. When new sales reps ask for something specific tell them to go through the database. Let them put in a little effort and find answers for themselves.

Effort is the best indicator of interest – Paul C Brunson

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Sales training process

Most of the sales managers directly jump on training without any preparation or objectives. So, they fail to deliver effective training.

As per a study, 9.6% of the companies rated their sales training programs as having “exceeded expectations,” while 33 % said it “met expectations.” The largest category was “needed improvement” at and 53.6%.  – Sales OPS Help

A process is essential for ensuring success ahead while training the sales representatives.

1. Being prepared

“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation” – Robert H. Schuller

Before you commence on the sales training journey, ponder over a few questions to avoid problems in the latter part of the journey.

Are your organization’s value propositions clear?

Familiarizing the sales reps with the value proposition is crucial for helping them sell the product/service.

The above question appears simple. Doesn’t it? Still, many companies can’t clearly state the value proposition of their product/service when compared to a competitor’s product/service. They can’t explain why customers should choose them over their competitors.

Therefore, it is essential to conduct a competitive analysis for finding out the strengths and weaknesses that differentiate you from the competitors. This will help while training the sales reps.

Are you taking the necessary measures for tracking your sales effectiveness?

It is difficult to work on improvements without identifying hurdles that are affecting the results.

The right tools are essential to know which levers need to be pulled for increasing the success rate.

CRM software like Salesmate not only provides a 360-degree view of your sales but also help in tracking vital metrics.

It helps you measure your sales rep’s performance for pinpointing improvement areas that need guidance.

Through detailed sales insight, you can find out what’s working and what needs to be optimized. Such insightful data works as a helpful hand during sales training.

Are you conversant with the changes happening in the market?

For successfully training your sales reps you need to stay vigilant about the market’s know-how. It is necessary to be aware of what’s new trending in your market.

  • What’s capturing the attention of the buyers?
  • Which channels are they using for making a purchase?
  • Which new sales apps or strategies are your competitors implementing?

The competitors, as well as the customers are getting wiser, they are well-informed and prepared. So, you need to train your sales reps to deal with such smart brains. You must keep yourself updated in the first place to pass on the knowledge to your sales reps.

2. Setting objectives

Just as a destination is essential while traveling, having a goal is pivotal for sales training.

“Setting goal is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Tony Robbins

For effective sales training, you need to have a clear idea of what are you seeking to accomplish through the training.

  • Do you want your team to get better at prospecting?
  • Improve sales reps’ product/company knowledge?
  • Enhance sales skills?
  • Strengthen their pipeline management or appointment setting capabilities?
  • Improve the closing ratio?

So, determine the objective of your training and focus your efforts accordingly. For doing that, you can evaluate your sales reports. These insightful reports will give you a wealth of information that will help in setting your sales training objectives.

3. Training needs analysis

In which areas of performance do your sales reps need training?

You can determine that through training needs analysis. This assessment helps in identifying and addressing the training requirements.

For effective training needs analysis, you need to –

  • Set clear objectives (as stated above)
  • Identify the competencies that are necessary for meeting the objectives.
  • Evaluate current competencies and find the gap between current and desired ability.
  • Create two different lists of critical competencies for inbound sales rep and field sales rep.
  • Determine who all need to be trained.

Here is a template for conducting a training needs analysis:

Date
Trainer
Name of the sales rep
Designation
Inside sales rep/ outside sales rep
Objective of training
Current skills possessed(Example: Self-organization, time management, call planning, active listening)
Required skills as per the objective (training needs)(Example: Effective communication, vocal clarity, rapport building, storytelling ability)
When will the training be conducted?(date and time)
Where will the training be held?(Example: Company’s training center or off-site venue)
How the knowledge will be imparted?(Example: Workshop, online course, conference or on-the-job learning)
Estimated Budget
Required personnel or resources
Estimated sales training completion date

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Sales training vital pieces you shouldn’t miss

Sales training is a broad umbrella covering a wide spectrum of things. And it differs from company to company. So, you must evaluate, and identify the sales areas in which your reps should be trained.

However, there are few common yet important areas that mostly all organizations give attention for boosting their sales.

Important areas you shouldn’t miss while training the sales reps:

1. How to be a good listener

How-to-be-a-good-listener

Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking.’ But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job – Roy Bartell

Well, if you want your sales rep to win more deals then you should train them in the art of listening.

People want to deal with companies who listen to them. Sometimes sales reps are so busy pitching their product that they fail to listen to the prospects. The result: Missing out on vital details that could have helped in converting the deal.

Top-performing sales reps are very cautious about not making this mistake. They maintain a talk-to-listen ratio.

The top sales performers talk for 46% of a call, means they listen for at least 54%of it. – Gong

top sales spend

So, encourage your sales reps to listen more for gaining a better understanding of their prospects’ needs and pain points. This is what even Daisy Jing, founder of the popular beauty product line ’Banish’ does.

Quoting Daisy Jing –

“I train my sales reps to know and understand their customers’ perspective. I ask them to listen beyond the question and know more about the innovation in skincare trends and routines nowadays. It’s best to know our customers for they give us sales”

Some helpful tips that you can share with your sales reps for making them a better listener:

  • Ask probing questions to get the required information and listen to the answers.
  • Take notes of important details.
  • Do not interrupt while the prospect is speaking.
  • Don’t get distracted by formulating a response before the prospect has stopped talking.
  • Summarize everything the prospect says after he/she finishes speaking.
  • Put what you’ve heard in your own words to show you understand a situation like theirs.
  • Clarify where you have doubts this will indicate you are actively listening to them.

2. Spotting the red flags of bad sales leads

Spotting-the-red-flags-of-bad-sales-leads

What’s the point of chasing a lead who doesn’t need your product? Or who doesn’t have the budget to purchase it? Most of the sales reps waste their time on such leads. They want to fulfill their targets but for doing that sales reps tread the wrong path leading to disappointment.

Only proper training can enable the sales reps to filter out leads that have the least possibilities of closing.

Being someone experienced who has traveled the same path, you have seen the signs of disinterest and dealt with various buyers before. So, train your sales reps in identifying and eliminating such bad leads at the right time.

I am sure you will have many experiences and strategies for training your sales reps identify the red flags. However, below are a few tips that might come handy.

  • Do background research on the leads and match it against the buyer persona.
  • Set a ranking system and evaluate leads on factors and attributes of your ideal buyer.
  • Ask qualifying questions before the meeting.
  • Signs of bad attitude shouldn’t be ignored as such disinterested leads might not change.
  • Don’t waste time on the leads that use stalling tactics for not taking the deal ahead.
  • Don’t just assume that the lead will buy unless there is some form of commitment.

3. The basics of cold emails and cold calling

The basics of cold emails and cold calling

Cold emails and cold calling are two widely used ways to connect with potential prospects. Though popular, getting a positive response on these two mediums isn’t a simple task.

The approaches need to be very effective for capturing the interest of the potential prospect. Or else your sales reps will face low email response rate and poor conversion rate for cold calls.

Ensure your sales reps get training in making cold calls and sending cold emails

Cold emails

The training should cover the following points:

For email tips and tactics you can ask your sales reps to refer the blog Effective sales email tips for getting quick response”

Cold calling

The training for cold calling should cover the following points:

  • How to create cold calling scripts?
  • Best timings for cold calling the prospects?
  • What points should be covered in a cold call?
  • How to set appointments?

For cold calling tips, refer “Hate cold calling? excellent cold calling tips for b2b sales call success” to your sales reps.

Here is a video by Jeffrey Gitomer (International sales trainer) that can help your sales reps in making successful cold calls.

4. Dealing with fear in sales

Dealing-with-fear-in-sales

“Fear” is one of the most common reasons for failing in sales.

Calling an unknown prospect itself is nerve-wracking for a few of the new as well as experienced sales reps.

A study by Behavioural Sciences Research Press shows 40% of all experienced sales reps willingly admit to one or more instances of sales call reluctance.

Besides calling, there are many other sales fears that are affecting the sales reps’ performance. Taking time to train your sales reps on how to handle these fears can positively impact the overall sales results.

Here are a few fears that most of the sales rep’s face and solution to address them.

Fear of rejection

After putting a lot of effort, it’s disheartening when a prospect refuses to take an offer. Sometimes it’s hard for the sales reps to deal with rejection. Sales reps end up feeling unenthusiastic and demoralized after facing continuous rejections.

Solution:

  • Ask your sales reps to list down everything they think will go wrong while selling.
  • They should understand the reasons behind the rejection.
  • Train your sales reps on the areas they are facing issues so that they can handle it with confidence.
  • Ask them not to get affected by the negative responses as it is a part of the sales career.

Below is an expert tip from Harsha Reddy, co-founder and editor in chief at Small Biz Genius for helping your reps get over the fear of rejection.

Teach your sales reps to understand that rejection happens 
due to many factors that are beyond their control. So, it’s best to embrace 
this and look on the bright side: *the law of averages states that it’s 
statistically impossible to not make a sale if you persist.”

Fear of appearing pushy

Several sales reps don’t intend to be pushy or manipulative. However, due to high pressure and target, they end up crossing the line. This frights most of the sales rep as they are aware that their pushy attitude might lead to a loss of a deal. So, sometimes they hesitate during the conversation and fail to convey the important message.

Solution:

For overcoming the fear of being pushy ask your sales reps to –

  • Record and listen to their sales call.
  • Understand where they are losing control.
  • Focus on helping the prospect instead of selling the product.
  • Make a list of benefits the prospect will receive through the solution.
  • Practice explaining benefits to a colleague for ensuring they aren’t sounding pushy.

Fear of presentation

Sometimes it is scary to present even in front of the familiar faces. So, you can understand how your sales reps would feel while presenting in front of acquaintances they made through calls. They get nervous and make mistakes. They either speak too fast or tend to forget what they were about to say.

This is what they must do to get over the fear of presentation-

  • Stay calm and conquer their nervousness.
  • Change their focus from themselves to the prospect.
  • They should interact with their prospect as if they are conversing with a colleague.
  • They should beat the pessimist attitude.
  • Practice before they present in front of the prospect.

5. How and when to send follow-up emails

How-and-when-to-send-follow-up-emails

Many sales reps straight away assume that the prospects aren’t interested when they don’t get a response. Well, without constant follow-up you can’t expect the prospects to take the next step on their own. Sadly, 44% of sales reps give up after one follow-up.

It takes around eight follow-up calls for reaching a prospect – Salesmate

Follow-up is essential but overdoing it that too at wrong timings can annoy the prospects. So, guide your sales reps for following-up effectively.

For deciding the frequency and timing of your follow-up emails you’ll have to –

  • Test your follow-up emails.
  • Track your emails sent at different timings and find the most effective timing and frequency.
  • Train your sales reps on setting email sequence for automating the follow-up emails.
  • Guide them on drafting a sales follow-up email.

6. Closing the deal rights

Closing is a crucial part of the selling process. Most of the deals are lost during the closing stage of the sales pipeline.

So, you need to pay extra attention to it during sales training. Have a separate session on closing deals.

Here are the few points your closing session should consist of:

You can refer this closing tips blog to your sales reps: “Head to toe of sales closing – techniques & tips you just can’t miss

7. How to use CRM

Though companies have implemented CRM, yet several sales reps don’t make the most of it. The problem is several sales reps don’t know how to use a CRM. You need to train your sales reps for boosting their interest in CRM.

Most of the sales reps have the misconception that CRM is just confined to contact management.

Well, it’s way beyond it.

So, train them on how it can ease their selling and help in closing more deals.

There are a wide number of things that a CRM can do.

You need to show the sales reps how through a CRM they can –

  • Streamline their data.
  • Create and manage their sales pipeline.
  • Automate their various tasks.
  • Create reports to get vital insights.
  • Add products and manage them next to deals.
  • Make and receive calls, as well as texts.
  • Track their sales emails.
  • Collaborate with their colleagues through shared team inbox.

These and many other things can be done through a CRM. Therefore, train them on each feature, so that they can make the right use of it.

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Sales training techniques

Here are a few sales training techniques that could come handy while preparing your sales force to win the game of sales.

1. Use success stories for training

Long sales theories are like boring lectures. These long theories fail to hold the attention of your sales reps. They might just hear and forget it.

“Training can feel like listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher “wah-wah” away but if you tell a story with purpose, that can be the connective tissue between the feature dump, the value and any hope for the rep remembering the information you throw at them.” – Misha Barlett , sales coach, and consultant.

So, use real-world examples and case studies to train as well as inspire your sales reps. These examples are a great way of telling what worked and what didn’t while selling. The sales reps can pick the best examples and apply useful techniques in their sales.

2. 1:1 meeting with sales rep

Most of the sales reps aren’t comfortable sharing their doubts and problems during team training.

So, keep the doors of communication open. Conduct 1:1 meeting with each sales rep for guiding them on the issues they are facing.

“True guidance is  like a small torch in a dark forest. It doesn’t show everything once. But gives enough light for the next step to be safe” – Swami Vivekananda

One to one meeting helps in getting the necessary insights for providing timely guidance. You can find out their strengths as well as weaknesses and direct them on the right path.

3. Role-playing

Role-playing is one of the best ways of training your sales reps. It helps in shaping and steering your sales reps to the level of quality you are looking for.

Convene your team and conduct a mock call one by one with every sales rep. Act as a potential buyer and challenge the sales reps by being a little demanding or resistant while making a purchase.

Show them how to tackle such challenging situations. Ask the observers to note down the positive points, mistakes, and suggestions of what can be done better.

For a few people standing up in front of their colleagues and hearing their comments can be painful. But then through such pain comes learning. Train them on how to handle constructive criticism.

Role-playing helps in building confidence and preparing your sales reps for the unexpected.

Sales training tips from the experts

Here are some expert views on training that can help.

1. Dedicate time and make training fun

Caitlin Morse

Caitlin Morse, 10x Digital

“Ensuring that you allot time to connect with your reps and review important product information or selling techniques will benefit all parties in the end. Additionally, make training sessions fun! Give out candy or coffee gift cards to reps who participate, share the correct answer, etc. You can keep it low cost but still make the training session fun with friendly competition and little rewards!”

2. Go beyond product training

John Hill

John Hill, Adapted Growth

“Product training does nothing for understanding the key areas that you must cover in a sales conversation.

Building trust with a prospect will get you to a closed sale faster than product knowledge. Are you listening to prospects, or are you pitching them? No one trusts the person who pitches everyone.

As far as the best way to improve, practice, and plan. Most sales are not one call closes, so what are you expecting on each call? What questions do you get most often? Figure out how to answer them, or avoid them without breaking trust.”

3. Sales training should be an ongoing process

Ian Clark, Frank Recruitment Group

Sales training isn’t a one-and-done undertaking. It’s not a box to be ticked before you throw your reps in at the deep end. More than 90% of our managers start out as trainee recruitment consultants, and the reason we’re able to rely so heavily on internal promotion is that training is part of our culture. We offer a twelve-week management course, and further training on a variety of other tracks. You need to support your reps in their progression by baking learning into everything you do.

4. Involve essential people and tools

Siddharth Gupta

Siddharth Gupta, Mercer Mettl

Involve product managers in training and leverage sales playbook: Product managers should be involved in the sales training process. They are the best resource to let sales professionals know what features the products have, what it offers, and what are the things that set it apart from the competition which should be highlighted in a meeting or on call, and which factors could be its downsides and how they could be avoided from bringing to the fore of a meeting. A sales playbook can be an instrumental tool in the training process, helping sales professionals appear intuitive, prescient, and confident to the client. Moreover, the execution know-how and deep expertise the sales professionals generate in their pitch, empower clients to understand the challenges and complexities better to be able to find answers head-on and structure their risks efficiently.”

5. Create a proper framework

Dan Madden

Dan Madden, Citrus HR

In my experience, the biggest challenge when training sales reps is deciding the right amount of freedom to give them. Sales reps are generally likable, persuasive, persistent and, more often than not, hungry to win.

Good ones live for the buzz of the sale. This is a great quality, but without a framework that sets out how they should apply those skills within the context of your specific business, results can be unpredictable.

I suggest putting clear, simple rules in place like: 

  • how frequently follow-up should take place (varying by lead channel as appropriate)
  • clearly defined assets that language reps should use to describe your product/service and how you compare to competitors.
  • clear limits on discounting and deal-structuring.
  • unambiguous guidance on the use of professional networks like LinkedIn.

Practical steps like these ensure that your reps’ energy and hunger delivers sales while remaining aligned with your brand as a whole.

Wrapping up

Sales training is a continuous process. Don’t just train and forget. Evaluate your sales rep’s performance and track their progress. Find out if the training has helped the sales reps and made any difference in their sales results. Keep yourself abreast with new strategies and selling techniques as the market is growing and the competition is getting fiercer. So, through effective training build a strong team of proficient sales reps that can win you more business. Want to see how a sales tool like Salesmate CRM can support your sales training? Sign up for a free trial today.