The modern sales role is one of continuous learning, requiring enablement beyond onboarding. The business-to-business (B2B) sales market is more competitive than ever before, requiring sellers to do more than just pitch the features and benefits of the products and services they’re selling. To engage buyers, sales reps must form connections, understand buyers’ unique environment and challenges, and prove that their solution is best.
Preparing your sales team not only to meet but to exceed these standards requires arming them with persistent education and guidance. It’s up to you, as a sales leader, to ensure your team is poised for success by fostering a continuous learning and coaching environment.
The Benefits of Consistent Sales Training
Onboarding is an effective way to introduce your organization’s history, products, culture, sales methodologies and so on. But company, industry and buyer evolution over time demands that your sellers keep up to stay relevant in the eyes of your buyers.
Continuing training beyond onboarding — with quarterly review sessions, skills certifications, microlearning modules, etc. — offers a slew of advantages for both your business and your prospective buyers:
Improved Sales Readiness
Providing ongoing learning to your team improves sales readiness, or how prepared the sales force is to engage with buyers across their journey. When they develop critical skills like communication, product and industry knowledge, handling objections, negotiating and managing pipelines, reps are ready and qualified to handle any buyer interaction.
Better Win Rates
With your sales team members more prepared for buyer conversations and armed with the skills they need to personalize communications, you’ll see better performance across your team. As a leading indicator of your organization’s competitiveness in the market, boosting your win rate should be on your list of sales training objectives.
Greater Employee Retention
When sales reps achieve their goals, they’re more likely to remain loyal to your company. When they receive the continued support they need from leadership, they will see a boost in their performance and, therefore, will be more likely to remain for the long haul. In a joint survey from Sales Readiness Group and Training Industry, Inc., nearly half of B2B sales professionals who rated their training as effective were also highly satisfied with their job.
How to Create a Strong Sales Training Program
Achieve in these benefits by leveraging these key components of a sales training program that’s built to last:
Make It Interactive
Encourage reps to team up to share ideas, complete training modules together and practice pitches on each other, incorporating virtual elements whenever possible. Hands-on learning encourages participation and helps it stick.
Involve Marketing, Product and Other Relevant Departments
Sales doesn’t exist in a funnel. It requires collaboration with marketing, which creates learning materials and buyer-facing content; product development, which has superior knowledge of features and nuances of your product suite; and sales enablement, which provides the tools and learning programs for sellers to engage customers. Collaborate with these departments to improve your sales training.
Bring Customers Into the Process
Your current customers have the most pertinent perspective on your buyer experience. Whether you bring customers into your office or ask them to send a video or complete a survey, request honest feedback about your sales process — both the good and the bad.
Reinforce Learning Year-round
The selling environment changes like the seasons, and one training session per year won’t cut it. Further, 70% of B2B reps forget information learned within a week, according to Mario M. Martinez, Jr., founder and chief executive officer of Vengreso. Collaborate with the marketing and sales enablement teams to develop quizzes, videos and other supplementary learning content.
Use a Feedback Loop
Solicit input from the sellers themselves on how you can maximize the efficiency and impact of your sales training program. Ask them about what worked, what didn’t and what they think would make training more effective moving forward.
Set Goals, and Revisit Them Often
What is the purpose of sales training? Establish specific, measurable goals that you can track over time to identify trends and areas for improvement, and communicate them clearly to sellers.
Invest in Technology
The right platform offers support for all these strategies, helping you automate processes and save time. Sales enablement solutions make cross-department alignment, content sharing and performance evaluation easy for sales leaders.
As with any business initiative, it’s important to be flexible and willing to adapt your sales training program to achieve optimal results. Use the insights you gain and feedback from sellers to make iterations and pivot as needed. By being proactive, working toward an objective and developing a strategic plan for sales training (backed by the right technology), you can unlock your team’s potential and drive outcomes.