Five Components of an Effective Sales Training Program
There are many sales training programs to choose from and the investment is not insignificant.
In order to find the best program for your sales team, spend the time evaluating which specific skills your sales reps need.
While most sales training focuses on the sales process, be sure that the skills align with the needs of your reps. Here five components to consider when choosing a sales training program:
1) Find a program that will grab your sales rep’s attention quickly.
Sales reps are notorious for their focus on sales – and you wouldn’t want it any other way. However, if the program doesn’t grab your reps attention early on, they will lose interest.
Suggestion: Ask about how the first 30 minutes of the program will start off and determine if that’s a fit for your sales reps.
2) Find a facilitator that is a good fit for your organization.
All facilitators are not created equally. Look for someone that will be a fit for your organization and with your sales team. Most reputable companies will have very good facilitators to choose from, but we’ve all heard stories about a facilitator that “just didn’t get our team/sales process.”
Suggestion: Meet the person that will be delivering your sales training program, if not in person, then via phone call or Skype.
3) Ensure the class has a high amount of application.
At the end of the day, if your reps haven’t had a chance to practice all of the skills that they are learning about then it is just theory, and theory won’t translate to more sales.
A good program will have many opportunities for reps to practice the skills they learn. This is not just limited to role plays but also includes activities where they are discerning certain skills (various types of questions, as an example).
The key here is that the reps need to be active. While it’s difficult to discern the percentage of activity vs. lecture, you want to see lots of activities and application.
Suggestion: Ask to see , or be walked through all the participant activities.
4) Find a program that will be highly relevant for your reps.
One of the key tenets of adult learning theory tells us that content MUST be relevant for adult learners, and given most sales reps focus on growing their business, it really needs to hit the mark in terms of relevance.
Relevance means that they understand:
- Why does this concept/skill matter to me?
- How will I use this on the job?
Relevance means that the facilitator is helping reps make that connection throughout the training.
Suggestion: Ask how relevance will established and maintained throughout the workshop.
5) Check references from similar businesses.
While every business is unique, I can say with certainty that when teaching selling skills, the skill set is the same whether you’re selling sophisticated consulting services or pharmaceutical supplies. What may be highly unique is your sales process.
So when you ask for references, it is not necessary that the reference come from the same industry, but rather the same sales process and sales model. In other words, I’ve trained reps at an investment software company and reps at a fleet management company that had very similar sales models.
They both used appointment setters that did the prospecting and the first layer of discovery with the client and then handed the sale off to the ‘business development’ person. On first blush, these two companies were very different but in fact, they would have been an ideal reference for one another.
Suggestion: When looking for references don’t get locked into references from your industry but seek references that have a similar business model.
These tips will help you find a great sales training program. And once you find it, be sure that all of your reps have a development plan of the skills that they are working on and a method to reinforce their development.
About Marlaina Capes
Marlaina Capes is a Senior Director of Client Services at the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). She has over 20 years of experience helping organizations improve performance in the areas of sales skills and leadership development. At SRG, Marlaina has worked with industry leading clients including Abbott, AdRoll, Alcon, Catalina Marketing, FactSet, Johnson Financial Group, Maritz, RingCentral, Univision, and Valmont Industries.