Hiring and training your sales organization is a huge investment. Sales leaders want to make sure they achieve the highest ROI on their hiring and training initiatives. At the same time a high number of hires end up failing and the blame is usually pointed exclusively at the hiring process when in fact the training is also to blame. Incorporate these elements in your training to have a kick-ass sales organization.
The wrong people
It takes a certain kind of person to work in sales and the job is not meant for everyone nor is there anything wrong with that. Far too often sales organizations make the wrong choices when hiring new talent. The best training program combined with the best sales process will not result in success if you have the wrong people.
Invest in sales assessment tools to add to your hiring process. There are many different tools available such as the Predictive Index, DiSC Personality Test, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator among others. Pumping up your sales organization by throwing talent into the mix will slow you down and provide false-positives in terms of evaluating the success of your sales process and training.
The executives in the company must support and reinforce the adopted sales process or it will never flourish. Sales organizations have a tendency to jump on the newest and shiniest sales process. This round robin approach is what prevents the sales team from achieving their fullest potential.
The executive leaders need to take the time to evaluate and choose the sales process they want their organization to adopt and stick with it until it is fully ingrained into the selling culture. Make the necessary adjustments and refinements along the way but don’t alter the fundamentals of the process.
Train the managers first
As much as this is common sense it is often lost on most sales organizations. The sales managers need to know the training inside and out since they are responsible for enforcing the training and coaching and developing the sales organization. How can they be effective in their job if they aren’t intimately familiar with it?
Train the sales managers first and separately from the sales reps. When it is time to train the sales reps have the sales managers participate alongside them. Following this guideline will allow the sales managers to reinforce and further explain the nuances as well as to help connect the training to the overall goals and strategies the sales reps are charged with.
Too much content too little time
Invest an adequate amount of time up front to conduct the sales training. Don’t overwhelm the sales team with too much information in a short period of time. Adopt the process/apply philosophy where the team has time to process the information presented and apply it. Speaking at them and doing a read-along will not enable the sales reps to absorb and implement the information.
Product vs sales training
Typically sales organizations adopt one of two unfortunate sales training methods. Either the sales reps are trained on the product as if they were hired to be product engineers or they are only trained on the sales process with little to no product specific training.
Conduct the product training first and give them just enough so that they don’t over promise and under deliver. Conduct the sales process training second and weave connections to the products throughout the training. If they don’t understand the product they can’t identify if it matches the prospects needs and if they don’t know how to sell it they will never peak the prospects interest. Have a sales training that balances both to have the highest success.
Most sales training is out of the box and rarely meets the needs of a salesperson or team. While sales training should be a repeatable process it needs to have certain elements that are tailored by company, industry and market. Thinking back to elementary school when we were being taught geography you probably thought “how will I ever use this”, you should not have that thought during a sales training.
Make sure your training is aligned with your approach and go to market strategy. Clearly define the actions that your sales team needs to optimize their ability to gain the sale.
There are many levels within sales, Business Development Directors, Inside Sales reps, Call Center reps, Sales Associates and the list goes on. One size sales training won’t fit all roles. The level of complexity of the sale is determined by the role the sales rep is in. The buyers, the size of the transaction, sales cycle and other factors will vary greatly between these roles.
Make sure your sales training is customized for each role and only include those sales reps in the training that will support their role.
If you train it and forget it you will find that many of your sales reps revert back to old habits they have developed throughout their career. Practice makes perfect and it is said that it takes 10,000 hours for someone to become an expert at something. After the training has been completed make sure you have regularly scheduled practice time with your sales reps. Having regular role-play sessions will give you the opportunity to reinforce the sales process and product training so that their conversations are smooth.
Without the right sales training the sales team will use habits they have picked up along the way. The success of your sales organization can be achieved by a good economy (one in which everyone is buying) or by having a kick-ass sales training program. Using these elements builds a sales team who can sell in any economy.
Once you have these elements in your sales training, spend 80 percent of your time coaching to the sales process and training the sales reps received. If you can’t invest in the after training coaching don’t waste your money on the upfront training costs.
Do you have examples of bad sales training or any other elements that would make a kick-ass sales training program? Use the comments below or add to the discussion on Twitter @ #SalesTraining.