Sales Training: How To Build A Best-In-Class Program
According to the ATD, companies spend $20 billion annually on sales training but report a low return on their investment. That’s not acceptable. There is a way to build a wildly successful, sustainable sales training program. In the periodic table of sales training, we summarize the major factors that influence whether or not you’ll get the most out of your training investment.
As the way we conduct business in a global (and now digital) economy continues to change and expand, it’s more important than ever to understand how to develop a sales training program. In this new era of remote work, you need to know how to train sales reps effectively, whether they’ve been working at your company for ten years or 10 minutes.
An effective sales training curriculum evolves with your company’s goals and helps shape your team’s culture. Creating a sales training program that gives your employees the knowledge, skills, and applied behaviors they need to perform their best, benefits:
- Your leaders
- Other team members
- Company reputation
- Customer service
- Team performance
Whether you’re revamping your current sales training curriculum or starting from scratch, you need to know how to build a sales training program the right way.
In this article, we’ll guide you through how to develop a sales training program that’s engaging, informative, and, most of all, results-oriented. We’ll examine the following:
- The key elements of sales training programs
- What makes up a basic sales training outline
- How to present a strategic sales training curriculum
- Creating and implementing the sales training program
- Choosing a robust learning management system
A custom sales training curriculum combined with powerful sales enablement tools is the most effective way to ensure your sales team is on the same page and aligned with company values. This will also help your sales team become what we like to call sales ready—ready to engage with a client at any point in the sales process.
So, do you want to not just create a good sales training program but also set your team up for continued, long-term success?
Let’s start by looking at a basic sales outline, some of the key elements of sales training programs, and how to develop sales skills at your organization.
What’s in a basic sales training outline?
When creating a sales training program, the sales training process steps should be clearly outlined. You’ll want to include the following (at minimum) to ensure you stay on track:
- Objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Desired training format(s)s
- List of topics, materials, resources, and activities
- Sales training goals
- Feedback, follow-ups, and progress tracking
That last point, direct employee feedback, is vital to your sales training program development. If you’re building sales training programs, use employee feedback to understand:
- What’s working and not working
- What’s missing or needs to be addressed
- What’s working well and getting results
A great sales training program is one that is continuously being changed and shaped to meet the needs of your team in real-time.
What are the key elements of sales training programs?
Creating a sales program from scratch will require that you do some preparation and planning. You’ll want to build a sales training curriculum that provides the following:
- The scope for developing and exploring new sales opportunities
- The strategy for increasing sales and organizational productivity
- The pathway for using and enhancing your team’s current knowledge and skills
An organization should tailor its sales training program to give sales reps the knowledge and tools they need to deliver results and meet their goals. When sales reps know how to sell and can combine that knowledge with your sales enablement tools, your team will be sales-ready.
But to get your team to sales readiness and create an effective training program, consider these four key elements of sales training:
1. Improving fundamental sales skills
Sales training curriculums should include modules that help sales reps nail the basic elements of the sales process.
To lay a good foundation of sales knowledge, you’ll want to include training on topics like:
- Lead generation
- Sales funneling
- Drafting proposals
- Up-selling and cross-selling
Even if you’re onboarding an established sales rep, providing them with a refresher of the basics can ensure they understand your company’s goals and values.
2. Providing information on the product and market
Building sales training curriculums should include giving your team the knowledge they need to sell your products or services confidently. Employees who better understand product distinction points and the market make better salespeople.
Provide your teams with information about:
- What your product is
- What problem it solves
- How it’s different from your competitors
In addition, your products/services, client behaviors/needs, or industry at large may change and evolve. Utilizing micro-learning techniques (more on this later!) can help you continuously upskill your team and ensure they’re always in the know regarding these changes.
3. Understanding the customer experience
Understanding the sales experience from the customer’s perspective is paramount to your team grasping the whole picture of the sales process. Your training should put your sales team in the customer’s shoes and take them through the entire customer journey to prepare for possible objections or challenges.
4. Training in virtual and soft sales skills
Since our world the work world is becoming more remote and more interactions are taking place online, it’s also a good idea to provide your team with virtual and hybrid-selling techniques.
For example, eye contact online means looking at the camera instead of directly at someone’s face. Additionally, learning how to speak clearly and effectively over a Zoom meeting is a little different than in person.
Some of the sales techniques may be the same online as in person, but there are some that they may need to tweak. Provide your team with some pointers for online calls so that they’re more confident with clients, regardless of location.
How to present a sales training curriculum
Remember the days when the sales team would file into the conference room while their manager read aloud from a PowerPoint presentation and everyone else tried to stay awake? Let’s hope that’s ancient history at your organization.
But if in-person meetings aren’t the best way to train a sales team, then what is?
There are two ways to best deliver training content to sales reps that gets results:
- Utilizing micro-learing
- Investing in an online training platform
The human attention span is getting shorter and microlearning is the most effective way for employees to grasp, digest, and retain new information.
Microlearning is the concept of providing sales reps with short, focused pieces of content. Instead of overwhelming an employee with too much content, micro-learning allows them to get relevant information in a quick, engaging way.
Let’s take an incredibly relatable example.
If Netflix premiered an 8-hour movie, you would probably skip right over it. However, when presented as a show in 16 half-hour-long episodes, you’re likely to binge-watch the whole series in a weekend. Those shorter episodes are much more engaging and leave you wanting more.
Take this concept into account when creating a sales training program. Giving information to employees in bite-size pieces over time (even ones that are five minutes in length) is actually more productive and effective than sharing it all in one session.
Investing in an online learning platform
You have an online training and sales enablement platform, right?
If you don’t, then you need to consider investing in one today. These powerful tools allow:
- You to deliver sales content and resources to your employees quickly
- Your employees to access this content and these resources at any place and at any time
With an online sales platform, you can also provide training content in a variety of different modalities, including:
- Virtual instructor training gives you the ability to teach from anywhere to anywhere in real-time. Some employees thrive off interacting with each other while learning the material.
- Pre-recorded videos provide a learning channel for employees to access whenever needed on-demand, whether in the field or at their desks. These work best when they are shorter in length and visually stimulating.
- Downloadable materials are still a cornerstone of how to develop a sales training program that works. While our current culture seems to be obsessed with short-form videos (TikTok, Instagram Reels, etc.), sometimes we need sales training resources and more in-depth reference content to follow key processes. With downloadable materials, sales reps can keep these reference materials easily accessible digitally or physically (printed).
- Gamification makes creating a sales training program (and executing it) more fun. Quizzes, video games, trivia, and word searches are just a few ways to make training modules more engaging. Optimize learning, encourage healthy competition, advance customer satisfaction with gamification.
Using an online learning technology platform is the best way to ensure that your sales reps have easy, remote access to training material, tools, and resources—any time and anywhere.
Learn how to develop a sales training program with Unboxed
If you’re wondering how to develop sales skills at your organization, there are a few key elements of sales training to consider:
- Improving fundamental sales skills
- Providing information on your product and industry
- Understanding the customer experience
- Presenting training material in various formats
Once you’ve outlined your sales training goals and sales training process steps, you’ll want to utilize micro-learing techniques and a robust learning management system (LMS) to deliver your information effectively.
But we know that creating and implementing a training program can be tough. So, that’s where we come in.
When it comes to knowing how to train sales reps or how to develop a sales training program, let us at Unboxed Training & Technology be your first call. At Unboxed, we know that continuous learning helps your employees feel more confident and inspired. Whether you’re looking to create a custom training program from scratch, want to invest in one of the best learning platforms, or both, we’ve got the perfect sales training solutions for you.
Contact our consultation team today to learn more about how our custom training and Spoke learning platform can supercharge your sales team.
Connect with us and see how Unboxed Strategic Consulting Services can help you succeed.