Improving the performance of a sales team is a common goal for senior managers, because it can have a very clear and direct influence on the overall performance of a business. However, while many companies invest heavily in their sales rep training, they do not always get the return on investment they were hoping for.
Should you find that your training is falling short of expectations, it may be worth reviewing it to make sure it includes a number of key ingredients. These ingredients are explained in more details below and combining all of them together in a cohesive package will help to ensure your training program delivers real results.
The theory section of your sales training course encompasses various intellectual elements. In general, it will involve introducing new ideas to your staff, sharing knowledge, or giving them new perspectives and this could be done through lectures, presentations, case studies or group exercises.
It is quite common for businesses to focus heavily on the theory aspect of sales training and they will often rely on external trainers or speakers to share their ideas and expertise with trainees.
However, while it is important to introduce new information, research from the NTL Institute shows that long-term retention rates for knowledge shared through lectures and reading stand at five percent and ten percent, respectively. The trick is to focus on participatory methods such as group discussions or team exercises.
Sales rep training should also include a practical element, because multiple studies have shown that people learn far better from doing something than they do from simply hearing, reading or observing. Examples of practical techniques include role plays, demonstrations and ‘on-the-job’ training.
Practical training methods are particularly useful when behavioral modification is required in order to improve performance. This could be because you want your sales staff to utilize new sales techniques moving forwards, but it may also be because you want sales staff to break bad habits they have picked up along the way.
When staff have to put the information they learn from sales training into practice quickly, they are significantly more likely to change their behavior over the long term. This means that combining theory and practical elements is a great way of ensuring your training program produces the results you want.
Finally, an often overlooked ingredient of a successful sales training course is the use of clear incentives. While your sales team should respect expert speakers, or learn lessons from case studies, this isn’t always a guarantee. In reality, your staff need to be given a clear reason to learn and change their behavior.
“Salespeople will only embrace and succeed with a new approach when they believe they can be more effective, make more money and achieve their personal goals and objectives by changing the way they do things,”
…explains Frank Visgatis, President of CustomerCentric Systems, writing for Entrepreneur.com.
Although financial incentives are almost always effective, you can also make incentives personal by coaching staff on an individual basis. This can give them clear targets to work towards and, through your sales training, you can demonstrate to them how new perspectives and behaviors can help them to achieve their goals.
About the Author
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specializes in providing exceptional sales training courses and helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership skills training.
Lead photo courtesy of parcusgroup.com/sales-training-course