Sales Training That Matters
It’s a big statement, but by no means an over-exaggeration – the business world is currently undergoing a revolution the likes of which we’ve never seen before. As we covered in detail a few weeks back, customers are better educated and learners have started to depend on increasingly shorter just-in-time training. Increasingly, sales teams find themselves in need of the skills to bridge that gap.
We get bombarded with all sorts of stimuli throughout the day. As a result, our brains have evolved to determine which information is most important by registering how often it’s presented. The more we revisit a given concept, the more we strengthen the information pathways (synapses) in the brain for future recall.
Years of science and research tells us that, to be truly effective, our training offering needs to hit on a number of Adult Learning principles, regardless of learner skill level or professional role:
- Relevant: The content of a training program must be meaningful and relevant to the adult learners, their lives, and their business.
- Experiential: Training needs to be contextualised to use language that learners are familiar with.
- Practical and collaborative: Training and learning interventions must include active and practical elements that will immediately improve their everyday life.
- Self-paced and goal-oriented: Learners need to know the benefits, values, and purposes of a training program and they need the option to progress at their own speed.
- Multi-sensory: Learning must be appropriately proportioned with delivery techniques that meet the needs of audio, visual, reading/writing, kinaesthetic, dependent, and independent learning preferences.
Sales training is unique in that while some people might think it’s straightforward, sales is actually a complex process that requires delicacy and skill. There are a number of ways to improve sales effectiveness, and few will deny that a well-trained team can help bring about results.
From this perspective, there are ways that we can match our training to the role for a more effective experience.
One step at a time…
Delivered with their other materials or content, training can suddenly take on a new importance, and relevance for sales teams. Because so much of their day is spent absorbing information from their presentations, collateral, or their CRM, marrying these materials is a no-brainer.
Extending this a step further by bringing in content that is “real” such as audio or video recordings of sales calls and using those for training purposes adds an experiential element that PowerPoint slides, webinars, or even lectures simply can’t.
Practice makes perfect…
Salespeople who are simply handed a script and instructed to sell will be unlikely to engage in meaningful conversation with clients. While the risk may be lower, simulations and role plays can be fun but they’re just not necessarily the most practical approach, because they don’t have the same level of immediacy that modern learners often crave.
Not only that, but the sales team is among the busiest in any organisation, and time spent developing their skills is time spent away from the client making deals! This is where self-paced learning comes in; maintaining control over when and where they learn is critical. If there’s a goal in mind, be it reaching a quota, higher win rates, or reducing churn, the specific skills that need to be nurtured and developed must also be identified.
In particular with sales professionals, competitiveness, ranking, and performance-based awards (i.e. gamification) are always a safe bet. The inclusion any other collaborative elements such as the sharing of peer-generated content can lead to even bigger knowledge and skill gains.
The sweet smell of success
A well-designed and multi-sensory training program will have effectively touched on all of the key learning styles and needs.
At Clarity International, we’re always on the hunt for new and exciting ways to build and deliver engaging and effective training. What we’ve learned is that for every job role, there are a few elements that are sure to bring a much-needed boost to a learning program.
Over the years, we’ve worked with clients who’ve found great success by using reinforcement learning and spaced repetition techniques, such as quizzes and flashcards. They also break down content from sales kick-off and product training events that can be watched at regular intervals in order to more effectively deliver this type of learning.
The more the merrier
A team that is trained with a common sales process will be better able to communicate with one another, which in turn, will allow your company to clearly communicate your brand messaging to consistently satisfied customers.
Few will deny the importance of sales training. In many ways, it’s like stretching: an activity that’s often overlooked despite its well-documented advantages. However, without a strategic approach to training and a platform for delivering it, the advantages reps seek and the selling time they need are wasted.