Is your sales team missing sales targets? Do you continue to lose customers to your competitors? While it’s safe to argue that the competition has stiffened in the recent past, which may cause you to fall short in many sales areas, it’s critical to your company’s future to identify areas of improvement where you may be able to make up for the shortfalls.
What a Sales Training Program Can Do For Business
In this post, we’ll review some of the benefits of implementing a sales training programand share the key areas of such a program for those looking to develop or improve this resource.
There are numerous benefits of sales training, described below:
(Our related blog post here shares some additional productivity tools you can try.)
Improve Selling Skills
An expected benefit for implementing this program will be to improve the knowledge and skills of your staff, thus shortening your sales cycle. With knowledge and selling skills at their fingertips, sales teams are better equipped to pinpoint leads and bring them into the funnel.
Uniform Sales Approach
This shortened sales cycle can be attributed in part to better communication within the sales team. If your sales team can speak in one voice, redundancy is eliminated resulting in faster closure.
Better Customer Experience
You want to leave a positive impression on your customers, right? Training your sales team equips them with the skills required to keep your customers on board for extended periods.
Retain Your Sales Force
Research shows that employees are happiest when they feel valued. That’s why you give the reps rewards and incentives in the first place. Providing employees with quality training and resources adds to their confidence in their skills, keeps them motivated to perform and builds loyalty to the company.
Developing a Solid Sales Training Program
Your sales training program should be highly-customized to your unique business. Before you begin developing materials, you’ll need to understand what your company needs are. Below is a recommended process for evaluating those needs and developing your program.
1) Look Inward: Assess Business Processes
The development of this type of program starts with a thorough analysis of business needs, including current processes, available resources and what is lacking. In this phase, identify the core competencies with regards to providing insight and generating solutions. Asses all members of your sales force; identify and document their levels of competencies; identify training programs that would address their areas for improvement.
2) Plan: Define Objectives and Set SMART Goals
When all is said and done, how do you want the training to benefit your sales team and the business in general? The easiest and most effective way of defining your training goals is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals – that is, make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Oriented. Common program goals include increasing productivity, improving customer relations and improving morale.
3) Develop: Create Materials to Support Goals
Start by creating presentations and other resources such as checklists and charts that your sales team uses to provide critical product or service information to customers. Which types of media will you choose to use? A combination of print, video and web materials may be the solution.
Role-playing exercises where participants get an opportunity to practice selling skills — such as overcoming objections and making a sales pitch — can be valuable to the program. You will also need a system of testing or evaluation to ensure that participants can recall and apply acquired knowledge.
4) Prepare: Train Your Trainers
Before you roll out your sales training plan to your field reps, you’ll need to present it to those who will be the ambassadors for the program. You’ll need to train the trainers and get their support and buy-in for the program. Remember that sales training has to be an ongoing business activity and must at all times be delivered by accomplished professionals. Always ensure that those delivering the training are comfortable with the training material. Moreover, they should be people who regularly contribute content and updates to the program as needed.
Now it’s time to implement the program. Your training instructors should be ready to deliver the course materials. Plan logistics and an ongoing plan for offering the course.This includes planning for how, when, where and how often you will offer the course. Will the course be required training for all staff or just sales staff?
At the end of the training session, give an opportunity for participants to evaluate the training program to determine its value for them. Ask for participants’ feedback on the materials and logistics and to what degree the program will help in their jobs. Allow the participants to give their feedback and use this to improve future training sessions.
If conducted properly, a high-quality sales training program can help increase sales results while improving customer retention for long-term profitability. For additional information about evaluating and improving business processes, read our free e-book below, “How Chickens Can Transform Your Business.”