50+ Sales Training Topics: The Essential Checklist
No matter what sales methodology you use—The Sandler Selling System, The Challenger Sale, SNAP Selling, Conceptual Selling, CustomerCentric Selling, or another—there are critical sales training topics your program should include. If you’re the person responsible for sales training, and you’ve wondered how you can make your team more effective, don’t be afraid to give your current program a quick checkup.
According to Frank Cespedes and Daniel Weinfurter of the Harvard Business Review, “More than 50% of US college graduates, regardless of their majors, are likely to work in sales at some point. But of the over 4,000 colleges in this country, less than 100 have sales programs or even sales courses, and of the more than 170,000 students who earn MBAs annually, only a tiny fraction learn anything about sales.”
That means what we think it means: organizations can’t take sales skills for granted as they onboard new sales professionals. Effective onboarding and on-the-job training are must-haves. It also means even the strongest sales methodology program may still have gaps.
Our Essential Sales Training Topics Checklist will help you identify areas of strength and opportunity so you can ultimately build or supplement an amazing sales training program.
Sales Training Topics
Chuck Cohn neatly outlines the differences between B2B and B2C sales in his Forbes post. B2B sales pursuits involve a longer decision process, more stakeholders, lengthier relationships, a smaller lead pool, and a different type of product knowledge than B2C pursuits.
These differences necessitate training tailored to each type of sales pursuit, so we’ve compiled a B2B and a B2C checklist. Use the appropriate checklist to help you answer the question: Where do my sales professionals need to build their skills?
It can be difficult to take a sales team out of the field for days or weeks of facilitated training. With this in mind, sales training program managers should consider re-packaging content into modalities that work well for busy, on-the-go sales professionals.
Geoffrey James explains in his Selling Power post Blended Sales Training:
"While most sales managers realize there’s an ever-growing need for better skills and product knowledge among the sales team, few firms can afford to send sales reps to several weeks of classroom training, even once, let alone every year. Fortunately, it’s now possible to combine classroom instruction, online learning, and Web conferencing to simultaneously reduce training costs and increase retention. This can result in sales training programs that are far more effective than ever before.”
The Association for Talent Development’s 2016 State of Sales Training report shares the following recommendations (and we wholeheartedly agree):
- Content should be short and easily accessible.
- Training should be tailored to the individual salesperson.
- Learning should be engaging.
A blended approach that pairs synchronous learning (real-time activities like classroom practice and videoconferencing) and asynchronous learning (self-paced activities with individualized reflection and collaboration time) may fit the bill. A well-designed blended sales training program incorporates the benefits of classroom training and self-paced training, and streamlines content with the sales team's workflow as much as possible.
ESPECIALLY FOR SALES MANAGERS
Training for sales leadership matters too. The ATD’s 2016 report mentioned above shares 50% of respondents believe the top barrier to effective sales training is salespeople are not being held accountable to applying skills learned in training. Sales managers have a critical role when it comes to setting expectations with their teams and providing supportive coaching.
With that in mind, our Sales Training Topics Checklist includes a brief section for sales managers. For a more thorough overview of leadership training topics, download our Leadership Training Topics Checklist.
One way to update your current sales training program is to incorporate microlearning. Microlearning is the practice of delivering training in smaller, bite-sized chunks that learners can digest and even re-watch quickly and easily. James states:
“Blended sales training relies upon an important aspect of human memory—the power of repetition…Blended sales training takes this concept to the next level. In this case, classroom instruction, interactive online learning, and Web conferencing are all called into service in order to present the material from a variety of different angles. Because the message is repeated in several different ways, retention goes up and sales reps are far more likely to integrate what’s being taught and incorporate it into their day-to-day behavior.”
If courses are easy to access and high-quality, microlearning for sales training offers proven benefits and can complement older, otherwise effective program content.
Whether you support B2B or B2C sales teams, use the checklist that’s right for you and make sure you’re on the road to world-class sales training.