The growth of your business is largely dependent on sales, and the success of your sales team relies mostly on proper training. For these reasons, many organizations are increasing the focus on training for sales representatives, and yours should too, regardless of its size or how long you have been in business. With so much at stake, putting together a training program for your sales team that is both efficient and effective may be an intimidating prospect. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
1. Take Advantage of Available Resources
You should bring yourself up to date on the current sales strategies before attempting to impart them to your team. You can learn the most effective current tactics by reading up on them through the many blogs written on the subject by talented and successful entrepreneurs, such as John Barrows, Matt Heinz, or Neil Patel.
2. Set Goals for Training
Your goals for training your sales team may be simple or complex, but you should always have them in mind. Goals are important for gauging trainee performance, so they should be concrete and achievable. In other words, your trainees should be able to do something by the time the training session is over. When you plan training sessions with a specific goal in mind, it helps you to focus on the topic and not go off on tangents that are difficult for your trainees to follow. When employees have concrete goals and authentic assessments, it helps them understand the purpose of training. Understanding why they are there helps your sales team to engage with the material and get more out of training.
3. Limit Time Spent in Training
It is better to have multiple training sessions of short duration than to have one long training session. This helps your trainees better focus on and engage with what you are teaching them. During a long session, your trainees' attention will inevitably lapse. It is not because of the quality of your material or the diligence of your sales force. It is just the way that the human brain is wired. You cannot get into your employees' brains to fix or change them, but you can adapt your training style to be more efficient based on what you know about your employees' attention spans.
4. Keep Training Ongoing
Professions that require that practitioners be licensed often require continuing education at routine intervals. This gives professionals a chance to learn new skills and refresh themselves on best practices. Salespeople may not require licenses, but having periodic training sessions for existing sales staff is a good idea anyway. Not only is it an opportunity to share new ideas and techniques, but it also gives you a chance to reinforce what your employers have already learned in training.
5. Make It Relevant
While some theoretical background may be useful to reinforce the points you are trying to make, it is helpful for your sales team if you make your training relevant and practical. As often as you can, relate what they are learning to real-life situations that they are likely to encounter on the sales floor or in the field. Again, if your team can see how the training relates directly to the work they do, they are more likely to engage with training and learn more.
6. Share Responsibility for Training
You may have a member of your sales team who shows particular competence and efficiency. Maybe he or she has learned some skills that could benefit the rest of your team. You could offer this person a bonus or other incentive for taking on some of the responsibility for training. This could be beneficial for everyone: Your sales team may be more receptive to a peer, your trainer can earn an extra benefit for sharing his or her experience, and you can turn your attention to other matters that you may not have given their due.
Another way to involve competent employees in training is to set up some sort of mentoring program in which more experienced team members assist those who are new. Learning one-on-one from someone who has been doing the job for a while may be a more effective way for new hires to learn once they have acquired the basics. One-on-one mentoring may also be more comfortable for your existing employees, and you can still offer the incentives to make it worth their while.
7. Make Use of Technology
E-learning tools are available online and can either supplement your in-person training regimen or replace it altogether. The major advantage of e-learning is that it can take place anywhere that your employees have access to the internet. Instead of making time for training, they learn on their own time. Employees appreciate the convenience and consideration for their time that you show by offering them e-learning options.
The success or failure of your sales team can be self-predictive. Adequate training gives the members of your sales team, both new and old, the tools they need for success.