If three is a crowd, then twenty is an all-out event.
In the beginning stages of structuring a sales team, a new hire will get the chance to work alongside a seasoned rep and soak in the sale process, as well as how to best prospect leads. But when your sales team grows from a few to dozens, it can be difficult to keep the focus on how everyone works as a cohesive unit. More team members means more people to train and onboard in order to get them speed as soon as possible.
Oftentimes as your team grows, finding time to train every single new hire falls to the wayside. As a sales manager or leader, your job is to provide your team with the tools they need to be successful. Before you dive into the meat and potatoes of sales training, some pre-training is necessary to get everyone on the same page.
Sales team pre-training:
- Assess your team’s strengths and weaknesses
- Align training with your company’s goals and strategy
- Choose the training format that makes sense for your company
Without adequate sales training, your team will struggle to keep afloat and the growth of the business can slow to a standstill. In this article, we’ll discuss the eight techniques you can use to effectively train your sales team.
Why sales training is important
Every round of new hires that join the sales team will need a group of designated mentors to help them get acclimated to the company sales processes. This training period will give both the new employee and their manager a look into how they work and how they may impact the success of the company down the line.
Sales training is more than just the customary 60 – 90 day period of trial and error. It’s essential to the workflow of the team. It can cover anything from basic onboarding, skill development, and setting expectations for the future. It can be more complex than other employee training periods.
Sales team pre-training
To start, thorough pre-training can be done to make things easier for everyone.
1. Align training with your company’s goals and strategy
To introduce new employees to your company, you first need to know what strategies keep it up and running. Knowing the sales strategy and how new hires can support the company’s goals is crucial.
Before any training happens, you must determine the behavior you want your sales hires to possess. How do you want your reps to push the company forward and improve upon set processes? What do you see them doing in order to achieve the desired outcome?
Knowing the answers to these questions will directly connect your sales training to the needs and goals of the company. If you’re able to see how these new employees will impact the company, it’ll keep both parties focused on the bottom line.
2. Assess your team’s strengths and weaknesses
To begin, it’s important to take the time to assess your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Doing so can highlight the areas where you can improve going forward. Routine reassessing can ensure that the team has the skills needed to use the company’s choice or software or equipment.
Some questions you can ask to dig into the details can include:
- Do you have a focused sales process in place?
- What is your value proposition?
- Which KPIs are you using to track sales effectiveness?
- What are you actively doing to increase your sales funnel?
- Are you taking advantage of changes in the market?
- Does the sales team work well together?
You may find that you’re losing deals from a lack of product understanding or that the sales process of bent out of shape and needs a refresh. Talking to the salespeople will give you much more detail than a deep dive into your performance year over year. Speaking to the people who do the job every day will help you to get a broader perspective and give you insight on how you can assist with their specific needs.
3. Choose the training format that makes sense for your company
When you start to brainstorm how you want to train new salespeople, the range of options may be overwhelming. No single format is right for every company or team, so determining the most effective way to train your sales team can help you save time and effort.
If you’re stuck on which format to choose, consider the size of the team. If you’re an early-stage startup with a lean sales team, compiling a few short courses or holding workshops may work better than formats that cater to larger teams. If your team has grown considerably, bringing in an outside consultant may be more effective. You can also send a group of team members to a conference to take note of how the market is changing. This way, you can gain insight into how the team needs to adjust training into the future.
During your sales team training
Once you’ve done all of the necessary preparation and planning before your new sales hires arrive, it’s time to execute your training. The following are a few things to keep in mind as training is underway.
4. Begin with the basics
If you want to shoot yourself in the foot, go ahead and assume your new hires already know the basic foundations of sales and selling. There may be the unicorn hire that has a leg up and has already familiarized themselves with these basics, but to build a strong foundation, starting from the beginner is a much safer bet.
To truly train your team from the bottom up, have them work with the tools and software, such as your CRM software, your salespeople are currently using. Starting from the basics (such as admin or technical tasks), you’ll save your team time and frustration. Show them everything from the pages customers see to the landing page sales funnels you have in place to even the social advertisements.
The basics are more than just admin. Believe it or not, email is not a dying format. Hold a session on cold email outreach for your team and teach them the foundations of an effective and professional cold email. When implemented, email marketing best practices can help take a prospect from unengaged to closed.
Another training session you can hold is one about the product or service you are selling. If your product constantly undergoes development or improvements, it may be wise to continually send out teamwide updates to keep everyone up to date. Even long-term employees may need a refresher after years on the job. Laying out your product’s features from day one gives new hires the needed knowledge to sell with confidence.
The purpose of sales performance management tools is to monitor sales progress to determine and recognize success and respond to processes and employees that need to improve. They offer data through scorecards for both individuals and teams. Check out the top sales performance management tools and start tracking your team’s progress.
5. Tap into e-learning content
Just like the wide selection of formats you choose from when you conducted pre-training, there are a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to e-learning. The internet holds a practically unlimited amount of resources on helpful sales techniques.
Companies everywhere are embracing the beauty of e-learning. With resources like blogs, online courses, podcasts, and webinars, you can educate your team on things like company procedures, policies, and products in development.
You can ask your team to suggest resources that have helped them and compile a library to train new hires. The best part about e-learning is that your team can learn about new sales techniques wherever they are. If they have a pressing question, they can reference a blog post or a YouTube video to get the answer they need in an instant. A project management tool can guide your new hires through video and training content they’re expected to complete.
7. Make learning real-world based
Make the learning process practical and real-world based. Salespeople are highly situational learners and will want to apply what they’ve learned in an authentic way. If their training doesn’t seem applicable, they can disengage, forget what they’ve learned, and resort back to their old selling habits.
Conducting relevant training is crucial to the success of the team. It shouldn’t just be about passing down knowledge, but about letting the sales rep know what is expected of them and how the company will benefit. If they can connect what they’re doing to the company’s overall goal, they’ll be more willing to put in more effort. In other words, if it feels real and fulfilling, they will be motivated to go above and beyond.
8. Encourage the use of data
Because sales is the ultimate results-driven position, the sales team should make a habit of reflecting on past performance. An easy way to do this is to dedicate part of the day or week to look back on meetings and sales calls to gauge what went well and identify areas that need improvement.
Is the sales training yielding the results you forecasted during planning? Your marketing automation tool can deliver a flashy marketing campaign that can dazzle audiences, but if the data isn’t trending in a positive direction, the company is built on an unstable foundation.
Utilizing accessible data to measure performance can be helpful to many different departments across the company. It’s no secret that big data is becoming an essential part of business development. Tracking it allows any team to determine the most efficient way to use their time and money.
Set your team up for success
At the end of the day, sales training will likely never be complete. If you take anything away from this article, always give your team access to appropriate and effective resources, be open to answering questions, and create a culture where learning is recognized. If you can do all three, you’ll support your sales team and give them the knowledge and confidence to succeed.
If the sales team is successful, the company thrives. The only way is up.
Want more sales content? Read up on how you can boost your sales team’s motivation.
Alexa is a Content Marketing Associate at G2. Born and raised in Chicago, she went to Columbia College Chicago and entered the world of all things event marketing and social media. In her free time, she likes taking her dog on walks, creating playlists for every mood, and finding the best vegetarian food in the city.