Sales training not only improves effectiveness but creates a cohesive team that will be driven to succeed and improve. It’s vital that every member of the team understands their responsibilities and is armed with all the skills and knowledge they need to do the job. Training as a team means that the message is delivered consistently across the board, and everyone feels included. In this article, we discuss the validity of sales training for improving sales team effectiveness and share some excellent tips to improve your sales performance.
Identifying Team Training Needs and Goals
The first thing you need to do is identify the needs and goals of your team training. A good training program will not work unless you have defined exactly what it is you want to achieve. These need to be defined before you start looking at the team to decide what level of training and in what area you need to make improvements. As a team leader, you need to identify the goals and then see whether the team has the skills to deliver and identify any weaknesses or knowledge gaps.
The most straightforward way to identify training needs is to carry out a training needs analysis. This is basically a discussion with your employees to find out exactly what they know and relate that to the goals you have defined. Depending on the size of the team, this can be done in several ways. You can start with an initial questionnaire and then spend some time observing them at work. Some companies also choose to use formal assessments to discover exactly where the team needs extra training.
Improving Sales Skills and Techniques
Sales training is naturally designed to improve the techniques and sales skills of every member of the team. Training should always be ongoing and start from the onboarding process so that everyone has the same baseline. It’s important to remember that good training also fosters a safe space where everyone feels that they can thrive and access all opportunities no matter what their ability or background. Team members should be encouraged to speak up if they have ideas or concerns.
Identifying your natural salespeople and harnessing them as peer mentors is a great way to help those who may need to hone their skills. Looking at your strongest salespeople will help you determine exactly what it is that they have got right and where their knowledge can be passed on to those who may not be delivering the same level of results. When looking for improvement, it’s important to set clear targets that are manageable rather than overwhelming, as this does nothing to motivate staff to try and deliver. Sales training must be delivered on an ongoing basis to truly improve sales skills.
Enhancing Product Knowledge and Value Proposition
Sales training is also a great platform for enhancing product knowledge; there are various ways that Fortune 500 companies effectively train their sales staff. Many start new hires on asynchronous platforms such as email and chat questions first so that they have time to check the knowledge base, review the product and do the appropriate research. Where possible, staff should also be given the opportunity to have hypothetical customer training scenarios presented, and these can easily be taken from real life examples that cropped up in previous calls. It is vital that each member of the sales team is familiar with the product and can answer questions about it.
You should also be training in value proposition, which means identifying the key values for your customer, including things like convenience, efficiency, customer, experience, pricing, and trust, and ensuring that every member of the team understands how to appeal to these value propositions to convert prospects into sales.
Fostering Effective Communication and Collaboration
Well-targeted sales training is also designed to foster effective communication and collaboration between all members of the team. Providing an arena for this to happen involves having clear goals and a shared vision as well as elements of trust and respect both horizontally across the sales team structure and vertically, including the management. Sharing the objectives and goals of the team with everyone provides a feeling of united direction, with everyone working towards the same end goal.
It should also be easy for team members to communicate and collaborate, and there are some ideal software packages available that offer solutions to facilitate team building. Within this, individual roles need to be clearly defined so that everyone understands their responsibilities and, on a wider scale, understands how they fit into the overall structure of the company. Sales training should also include recognising and celebrating success rather than just being a forum for failure and the need to improve. It’s a good opportunity to build morale and cohesion, which will help with high performance and cooperation among team members.
Tracking and Measuring Sales Performance
Sales training is also the ideal way to begin tracking and measuring sales performance. By training on specific weaknesses, you can use pre-training metrics and compare these with the results after a set period of time once the training has been delivered. Picking a specific metric, be it activity, pipeline, productivity, or results metrics, you are able to see how effective or otherwise the training is. Metrics can be tracked on an individual or team basis but remember that training is all about creating a safe and positive arena where nobody feels victimised for lack of skill or knowledge.
By working in this way, you create a natural sales training cycle that enables you to implement improvements to the knowledge test for the results and then, naturally, develop further training based on the results from the metrics you are measuring. If you’re tracking and measuring suggest that there is a member of the team not up to speed, this is the perfect time to deploy the peer mentors and bring support from someone who is performing well in the area to impart extra training, knowledge and wisdom.