Sales Team Training: Best Practices to Empower Your Sales Reps

Sales Team Training: Best Practices to Empower Your Sales Reps

Sales team training allows your sales team to be more effective by using best practices to close deals.
by
Nicholas Price

Have you ever looked at a high-performing sales team and wondered what kind of sales team training empowered them to be the best? When you have a business to run, one of the biggest decisions you have to make is how much time, money, and effort you want to invest into your sales team training to empower your sales reps to perform at their very best every time they make or receive a call. 

You may be interested to know that companies in the U.S. spend over $70 billion on sales training every year. That amounts to an average of $1,459 per salesperson, which is nearly 20% more than they spend on all other employees. How does your company compare with the national average? As you develop your sales team training program, you’ll need to have a good understanding of the purpose and goals of the training. To make that happen, you’ll need to clearly define your sales training process, invest in the right training programs, and follow best practices for training sessions. 

What Is Sales Team Training?

Before we look at the definition of sales team training, let’s understand the definition of a sales team. A sales team is a group of people that work together toward the common goal of increasing sales. A sales team is a collaborative effort in which team members participate in a set of activities and related tasks that help them increase sales. 

One of the great benefits of building sales teams is that it creates synergy. This means that the combined effect of the team is greater than what individuals can accomplish on their own. Activities like gamification and healthy sales competitions help to inspire and motivate sales team members. This allows them to do their best and to achieve their goals. It’s also possible to set up sales teams in which each team is trained in a refined set of sales skills. These can be dedicated to specific parts of the sales funnel. 

Whatever role your sales team members play, it’s important for them to have the skills necessary for them to reach their goals and to be an effective part of the whole team. 

Sales team training is the responsibility of sales managers or sales leaders. It is an activity that effectively prepares new salespeople to bring in new sales for the express purpose of generating revenue. Sales team training covers a variety of sales topics to prepare salespeople well for the types of conversations they’ll be having with customers. A strong sales team training program helps to build confidence in all sales team members to do their best work. The best sales team training programs also teach sales team members how to collaborate with each other and tap into each other’s strengths. 

Why Train Your Sales Representatives

Your sales representatives play a major role in helping your company stay competitive. Most salespeople would tell you that it’s harder to make sales today than it was five years ago. A good sales training program gives them the right skills and tools to make their jobs easier in today’s market. Beyond that, your company stands to gain the following additional benefits when your sales representatives are well-trained:

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Builds customer loyalty:

The human connection between your sales representatives and your customers works to build trust and inspire brand loyalty. Sales training helps sales representatives understand your customer’s wants and needs and helps them communicate the benefits of your products and services. 

Improves communication:

Good communication skills are necessary for sales representatives so they can accurately describe the value that your products and services offer and how your company’s offerings fit their needs. 

Increases revenue:

Your sales department is one of the greatest revenue generators you have. With every call, they have an opportunity to offer the right product to your customers. By defining sales processes and training salespeople in those processes, salespeople have a designated, proven plan to follow, rather than taking a hit-or-miss approach. 

Makes onboarding activities more productive:

It can take months for new hires to learn the ropes and start meeting their sales quotas. A strong sales training program helps to shorten the learning curve and helps sales professionals get out of the gate and start selling quickly. 

Enhances your brand image:

Your customers get an impression of your brand every time they speak to one of your salespeople. A good sales training program instructs your salespeople about the importance of their attitude, speech, and behavior, and how that reflects on your brand. 

Helps salespeople learn how to overcome objections:

Objections are an expected part of the sales process. Without the proper training, your salespeople may bow out of a sale without attempting to overcome objections, causing you to have productivity without conversions. 

Improves data collection:

Collecting data is a very important part of the sales process and building the best salespeople. The right data will help you create accurate customer profiles that help to move customers through the sales funnel and create additional opportunities for new sales. 

Building Your Sales Team Training Program

Next, let’s dig into how to build a quality sales team training program. Whether you’re building a sales team training program from scratch or improving your current program, it’s always a good time to build quality training programs. 

Tips for building your sales team training program:

Make it as interactive as possible:

In general, people learn by doing. That statement is definitely true when it comes to sales team training. A good sales team training program provides many opportunities for interaction between trainers, attendees, and peers. Situational stories and role-playing provide excellent practice for selling products and providing customer service.

Incorporate multiple departments:

Product and marketing teams have a lot to offer new salespeople. Presentations by other departments will help to give salespeople valuable knowledge about the products and services your company offers. By bringing in employees from other departments, it helps to build connections with other departments and to create alignment.  

Define your key objectives and your key performance indicators (KPIs):

Think about the goal for your sales call center and identify measurable ways to evaluate data such as photos, shortening the sales cycle, and increasing sales. Instruct your sales teams about the KPIs and other sales performance measures that you’ll be using to evaluate their progress objectively. 

Focus some of the training on your current teams’ weaknesses:

Your current sales teams’ weaknesses provide opportunities for how to train new employees to fill in the gaps in those weaknesses. 

Reinforce sales training principles on the job:

The initial onboarding sales training process can be overwhelming for many new employees. It’s tough for them to retain everything they learn and  leverage all of it once they get into the call center. Make sure to produce ample amounts of sales enablement materials. Then, develop ways for sales representatives to access sales training materials, such as a knowledge base. Be sure to update your knowledge base often. 

Be open to feedback:

Often, it’s your salespeople who come up with the best ideas for how to be more efficient and productive. Don’t make the mistake of allowing this valuable feedback to fall on deaf ears. Use  your salespeople’s feedback to refine your sales training strategies and to improve future trainings. 

The Importance of Defining the Sales Process in Sales Training

Anytime that you’re trying to get from one point to another, it helps to have a designated path. In simple terms, you could think of the sales process as a set of specific steps that your sales team can take to convert a prospect into a customer. 

As your salespeople follow up on the designated sales plan, it gives them a standardized process to help them reach their goals. It doesn’t usually take too long for them to see that proven sales strategies work. In fact, companies that utilize a formal sales workflow have higher revenue growth than companies that don’t train their salespeople according to a specific sales training process. 

A sales training process that’s well-defined benefits your salespeople and your company. It gives your sales representatives a distinct path to follow and it allows you to be clear about what the company expects from them. Also, a specific sales workflow allows you to reasonably forecast the number of sales you can expect to close from a given number of qualified leads. This is important to be able to set realistic quotas. 

Setting Sales Goals

The most successful sales training programs emphasize the importance of generating high-quality leads, which are key for shortening your sales cycle. High-quality leads are the most likely prospects to close, and they’re the ones that have the best potential to stay loyal to your company for a lifetime. 

Timing plays a major role in establishing a great sales process. As you evaluate your sales cycle, it will become apparent how much time prospects should be spending in each part of the sales funnel. This is important information to share with your sales teams. If they rush in to close the sale too quickly, they stand a chance of losing it. However, if customers are allowed to linger too long in any part of the sales cycle, they’re bound to cool off and shop elsewhere. A tailored sales playbook ensures that your customers acquire a sense of trust and value as they move through every part of the sales funnel. 

How to Conduct Effective Sales Training

Defining your sales training process is an important part of the equation. Once you get past that point, it’s time to plan for how to conduct your sales training program.

The first part of your sales training program should focus on how what they’re learning coincides with your sales strategy and goals. It’s generally best to start at the beginning. Explain how your company got started and how the founders developed their vision for the company. This is an important step to shape their attitudes and behavior around your company’s culture. As questions arise, you can always come back to the principles they learned about your company’s culture during their initial onboarding.

From the very beginning, emphasize the importance of being customer-centric during your sales coaching program. People who have been in the sales field for some time may not be aware of the recent shift in buyer behavior that’s been generated by the internet. Today’s buyers are more mobile and social than in the past. They’re savvier, and when they know what they want, they’re quick to make a purchase. A successful sales management training program will account for past selling trends. You should consider how today’s salespeople can overcome modern objections.

Before Making a First Call 

Your sales representatives will be eager to get into the call center and start using the information they’ve learned right away. Undoubtedly, you want to squeeze a lot of training into the short period of time you’ve allotted for training purposes. Be intentional about ensuring that the training is relevant and actionable whenever possible. Role-playing and storytelling are good ways to highlight scenarios of the typical calls they’ll be receiving. 

Make an effort to reinforce the messages and behaviors that you want to instill in your new employees. If you have an on-site call center, it’s easy enough to hang posters around your facility that promote your messages. If you have a virtual call center, or you use remote or distributed teams, use multiple communication channels over time to spread the word. 

Finally, do a quick run-through of your sales training before your trainees arrive, even if you’re doing a virtual training. It’s the best time to work out any kinks or flaws in your sales training program. 

What Type of Sales Training Programs Should You Invest In?

There is no shortage of sales training programs online and in the marketplace. So, how do you find the best ones to invest in? HubSpot provides a list of some of the more popular sales training programs. Be aware that some of the sales training programs focus more heavily on the top of the sales funnel. Other programs focus more heavily on the bottom. You’re sure to encounter some sales team training programs that offer an overview of the entire sales process as well. Use your sales teams’ strengths and weaknesses to help you decide which programs are best. Make sure whatever program helps the various individuals on your teams.

Rather than looking at a specific training program, look at sales training programs focused on specific parts of the selling process: 

  1. Prospecting
  2. Giving a persuasive sales call presentation
  3. Making a connection with customers
  4. Handling objections, overcoming resistance, selling value
  5. Storytelling
  6. Customer experience
  7. Closing
  8. Upsell, cross-sell, referrals

The best sales training programs will help your salespeople increase sales. The increase in revenue will help justify the expense of the training.

Sales Team Training Best Practices Checklist for Your Salespeople

Best practices for sales team training have been continuing to develop and evolve over the last few decades. The evolution of best practices for sales team training is a good thing and should continue. It’s not a bad idea to document your company’s best practices for sales team training. You can always build on them as you continue to build your sales teams. 

Common best practices for sales team training to get you started:

  1. Start training as soon as possible after signing an employment agreement
  2. Do some group training, but also customize it for individuals as much as possible
  3. Incorporate soft skills training
  4. Make training and refreshers available on an ongoing basis
  5. Offer post-training coaching or mentoring 
  6. Use call analytics to set up and share measurable goals
  7. Use metrics and KPIs to evaluate progress on goals
  8. Focus on the importance of the customer experience
  9. Define sales processes clearly

A cloud-based phone system offers many ways to incorporate hands-on sales training opportunities. Robust voice calling features allow call center representatives to:

  • Practice transferring sales calls,
  • Place conference calls
  • Work with features like insight cards and call tagging.

The system also offers a chance to practice a warm transfer. This feature allows reps to transfer a call and quickly speak to another team member before sending the call through. 

Aircall works seamlessly with all of the apps in the App Marketplace, which also present hands-on opportunities for live call experience before new sales representatives take an official customer call. Overall, a modern phone system that works with SaaS call center software is the best compliment to your sales training program. Sales team training, along with these tools, gives you all the components to establish successful sales teams.

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