When your solution salespeople dread attending sales training and find any excuse to not attend, it is time to re-evaluate how sales trainings are conducted. Likely, the content is relevant and important to salespeople, as well as to the business. However, sales training often falls on deaf ears and salespeople interpret it as a waste of time. When salespeople do not find value in training, the organization is dumping money into an endless pit, not receiving a return on investment.
While senior leadership touts more investment into training, it is up to sales enablement and sales management to create a return on training investment. How can they vastly improve sales training?
Without being prescriptive to the individual, it is not possible to have the same impact on every salesperson in the organization. However, paying close attention to a handful of details and taking a methodical approach to sales training, you can create an engaging training experience which influences salespeople to act. Further, you will find primary differentiators that transform a sales training into a dialogue with salespeople.
Partner with sales management.
It is simple to recommend, “talk to the salespeople,” when you can count your salespeople with the fingers on your hands. When the sales organization consists of dozens or hundreds of people, solicit feedback from the sales managers, as they provide filtered, results oriented feedback without individual emotion. In other words, sales managers provide information that will impact the majority of individuals on their teams.
Gather feedback in person and take notes –do not send surveys. Sales managers are more likely to buy in to trainings when they are part of the process, and given an opportunity to influence sales enablement. Once meetings are completed, compare notes and look for patterns. Address common concerns, whether by making changes or explaining the purpose for a certain method.
Also, encourage managers to challenge sales enablement in terms of ROI, using sales goals as a metric. Every minute off the salesfloor is lost productivity and sales. Thus, sales time spent in training is part of the training investment.
- Are they to acquire a new sales skill that will impact sales growth overall? (i.e., negotiating, closing, prospecting.)
- Is there a new hot product or solution that will be discussed? What is the expected outcome of the training? Will the sales people be taught how to create interest?
- Is the sales process defined? How will sales people utilize the training to close more revenue?
- Does sales enablement know the customers and market details?
Ideally, sales enablement is bridging any gaps between marketing and sales, so enablement must understand marketing details and speak sales. It’s not an easy job, but when accomplished is impactful.
Salespeople are to teach salespeople.
Have you ever been in a training or meeting and thought, “Why is a person who has never done my job telling me how to do my job?” The reputation of the trainer falls on whether they have done the job being taught. Great trainers and teachers in any field have utilized the skill being taught.
It’s simple, for an effective sales training, the trainer has been a (preferably successful) salesperson.
Establish buy-in early and show them the “how.”
Salespeople do not want to waste their time, so it is imperative that the purpose is established early and the class is quickly engaged. Gain their attention with the “why,” create urgency, then show them how to take action.
For example, if the training is for a new solution offered by the business, describe how the marketing team, the senior leadership team, or developers came to that offering. There must be a new market opportunity that leads to a new offering. Describe the market opportunity and be prepared to answer questions. Ask the salespeople if the new market opportunity makes sense and if they are seeing it with clients (creating engagement.) Elaborate on competitive behavior and how competitors could take advantage of the opportunity (urgency.)
Then move on to how to have the conversation. This will require the trainer to be a salesperson, understand the industry, and the typical client. The trainer must prepare and practice the “how.”
End with a call to action and measure results.
Ideally, if the trainer has buy-in, the salespeople will act, because they would be missing an opportunity. However, have a method to follow through and track results. Utilize CRM tools to measure against expected sales of the newly developed solution, or overall closing ratio if closing tactics were taught.
Develop and coach managers to continue the conversation about the new solution or skill learned. Sales enablement scales through managers, but many training departments miss the opportunity to equip sales managers with new information and tools to coach. Have follow through material and guidance created for every training and ask sales managers to have weekly team meetings to deliver new information and solicit feedback from the sales team.
Your sales organization is your key marketing engine. The methods and feedback is continuous, because information should not only flow to salespeople, but from sales back to marketing, enablement, and leadership.
Have some thoughts on this topic? Let me know!