For any sales training initiative to be successful and achieve maximum return on investment (ROI), there must be buy-in from the training participants. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to get salespeople excited about training, since they’ll be pulled away from selling activities for a day or two. Despite the challenge, there are ways to sell a training to your salespeople so they’re genuinely bought in and committed. To improve engagement and buy-in from sales training participants, follow these five tips.

1. Make It Customized

Your salespeople will quickly lose interest in an off-the-shelf training program that isn’t tailored to their unique circumstances. The more relevant your training — and the easier it is to see how it will immediately benefit them — the more likely your salespeople are to stay engaged.

A quality sales training program should reflect the lived reality of your sales force. The role plays, scenarios, language and activities should address the challenges your sales reps are faced with on a daily basis. This deep level of customization will not only keep and hold the attention of your training participants, but it will also lead to increased knowledge retention and application of new skills.

2. Involve Salespeople in Training Development

As a best practice, you should involve members of the sales team during the customization process for your sales training program. While other key stakeholders in your organization can provide insight into the overarching goals of the training, salespeople intimately understand the current state of your sales operations and can be invaluable in the customization process.

To that end, it’s a good idea to partner with a sales training provider who conducts discovery calls and ride-alongs with a select group of salespeople to understand the selling environment on a deep level.

3. Have Top-down Sponsorship

In order for salespeople to fully buy into a training initiative, they must see that the initiative is supported at every level of the organization. There should be messaging communicated from the CEO and every other level of management that the training initiative is a priority and not simply the flavor of the week.

When salespeople receive consistent messaging about the importance of the training and how valuable it will be to their success, they’re more likely to buy in and stay engaged and committed.

4. Keep Open Lines of Communication

The quickest way to cause skepticism and distrust of a new initiative is to keep it secretive. Be sure you are upfront with your salespeople when you begin planning and implementing a sales training initiative. They should receive consistent communication informing them of the reasons the training is taking place and any expectations that are set for them. You can go further in building trust by inviting questions and feedback and maintaining open lines of communication before, during and after the training takes place.

5. Consider a Pilot Program

If you need to train a large or dispersed sales force, it can be beneficial to run a pilot program to ensure the training is designed and delivered effectively. With a pilot program, you can deliver a “test run” of the training on a small segment of your sales force and incorporate any feedback you receive before you roll it out to the rest of the team.

This feedback will improve buy-in from the rest of the group in two ways. First, you will have a chance to tweak content and delivery to better suit your team’s needs. Second, you will have the opportunity to create a positive buzz from the pilot participants. Be sure to work with a sales training provider that is experienced and successful in delivering pilot programs for large organizations.

The Bottom Line

It’s imperative that your salespeople buy into training and believe that what they’re learning will benefit them once they have a chance to apply it. Training without buy-in results in disgruntled employees and lost resources when the learners don’t apply it in the field.

Choose a sales training provider that understands best practices for capturing a sales team’s attention. Then, you’re sure to keep them engaged and motivated from the training’s ideation to delivery, reinforcement and beyond.