Developing an effective sales team at your organization involves a detailed recruitment process designed to attract self-motivated, confident, and enthusiastic people. However, the development of an effective sales team does not end with recruitment; a detailed and structured training program is just as important to get the most out of your talented sales staff.
Sales training is taking on increased importance. Some of the most recent changes to sales training programs include increased levels of customization to plug individual skill gaps and more emphasis on continuous training instead of once-off programs.
Technology is also becoming more central in the role of the salesperson, and sales staff increasingly need to be adept at using a variety of tools and software. Read on to see some best practices and tips for effective sales training in 2019.
1. Teach Reps How To Handle Sales Objections
Sales reps can encounter any of several objections during both prospecting and negotiating, and the ability to deal with such objections makes all the difference in whether they are able to eventually close the deal.
At the prospecting stage, people need to have value communicated to them early and clearly — common objections here relate to being too busy to understand the value of your product/service and not being ready for a conversation about buying yet. These seven sales prospecting objections might come in useful for your sales reps.
An even better way to teach people how to handle objections is to use practical training. If you can spare the resources, find some people either internal or external to your company who can act as real-world prospects who use a mixture of the most common sales objections during role-playing sessions.
As your reps engage in these role-playing sessions, they’ll be building up a memory bank on how to handle different objections that reflects actual experience as opposed to information on a PowerPoint slide.
2. Implement Data-Driven Training
In 2017, Gartner identified sales enablement platforms as expanding sales technology stacks at many companies. One year later, and sales enablement software is becoming commonplace. Sales enablement platforms are excellent for data-driven training because of the variety of data they can report on, including sales metrics and behavior-driven insights. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are also highly useful in helping sales teams better manage their sales funnels.
Using the data provided by modern sales enablement software, you can provide a more customized approach to sales training that helps you understand what your training programs should cover for each and every rep. By focusing on improving specific skills that people aren’t displaying enough competency in and using cold, hard data as the basis for this, you’ll end up with a much better-developed sales team going forward.
3. Focus On Improving Listening Abilities
The ability to listen actively to a prospect is a key differentiating factor in the success or failure of a sales rep. The idea of active listening is that it helps to build rapport with people and show them that you are really paying attention to what they say.
Active listening does not mean your sales reps should merely wait to speak — they should be concentrating and paying their full attention to what the prospect is saying. This type of listening can be difficult for sales reps to get used to because their natural inclination is to sell; to use their communication skills to speak confidently about the value a product or service can bring to someone’s life. However, while the ability to speak clearly and persuasively is important, showing the potential customer you are listening to their specific pain points gives a much greater chance of closing the deal.
4. Train Sales Teams to Use Digital Communication with a DAM
An increasingly important aspect of sales is digital marketing and audiovisual communication. You should provide a single, centralized repository of all your rich media files, including images, videos and GIF animations, so your sales reps and marketing strategists can easily collaborate to advance their online sales efforts.
A Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution can help you store, organize, and keep track of your digital marketing content. It also allows you to share files throughout the organization. Online sales teams should be trained in the use of rich media files and should have access to your DAM so they can retrieve files and incorporate them into their marketing strategy.
5. Minimize Time-Wasting by Qualifying Prospects
When your sales reps spend time on prospects that are going to become more hassle than they are worth, they are being inefficient because they are doing something that provides no benefit or even costs your company money. It’s crucial, therefore, to teach your sales reps how to properly qualify prospects.
Teaching active listening skills can help here, but some additional important points for sales reps to consider are the quality of communication with prospects, whether the prospect’s needs align with what your company offers, whether the person your rep is speaking to has decision-making power and other subtle red flags such as expecting immediate responses to emails.
6. Separate Compliance Training From Sales Training
There are certain types of training programs that you are duty-bound to implement in your organization as part of meeting your company’s compliance requirements. These compliance requirements differ by industry, but few industries can escape without needing to adhere to some type of regulation (think of the recent ramifications of GDPR).
It is best to keep your mandatory compliance training completely separate from sales training because mixing the two can overwhelm people. Furthermore, sales training directly impacts reps by helping to improve their performance, so such training programs should have their own dedicated resources and set times. Compliance training is, of course, vital, but perhaps consider implementing this type of training as an eLearning course that reps can do during downtime.
7. Reinforce Lessons With Continuous Training
Sales training has moved well beyond the old paradigm of a structured program that is conducted on a once-off basis. A college student can rarely show up to a lecture and remember all they’ve learned from that lecture, so they take notes that they can revise later, and they attend frequent tutorials based on lecture material.
A similar approach is needed in sales training. Instead of being something that happens once a year or every other year, constant reinforcement can provide greater ROI in sales training programs. Follow up with your sales team and continue to use a data-driven approach based on information gleaned from sales enablement tools and other sales software.
Incorporate these tips and best practices into your sales training programs for 2019 so that you can deliver more effective training to your valued sales reps.