What better time to train your team than a slower summer? Whether you manage an inside, outside, or hybrid team, chances are that sales activities have reduced in early Q3. Take this opportunity to do some hands-on training with your sales team.
First, find out the areas where they could use help. 1:1 meetings and ride-alongs will allow you to hear from them, as well as see in action where their strengths and weaknesses lie. From there, you can determine where sales training would be most effective.
In this blog, we’re sharing our best practices for training, and four “quick win” training topics. Each of these trainings can be as concise or in-depth as your team has time for. Incorporate the best practices to keep your sales team interested and engaged throughout the experience.
Sales Training Best Practices
- Regardless of the topic, training should be fun. Nothing loses sales’ attention quicker than a dry training class, especially when the windows reveal blue skies and sunshine. Try incorporating scenarios and role-playing, hands-on activities, guest speakers (like having team members share stories), and Q&A, to keep your team engaged.
- Keep energy levels high by incorporating breaks that allow people recharge, stretch their legs, and respond to any pressing work matters.
- Always have beverages and snacks on hand so you have people focused on the task at hand, not lunch break.
- Host training in a classroom-type setting, providing each trainee with their own desk space to spread out and supplies for taking notes.
- Don't get bogged down in a PowerPoint presentation. An interactive session will be much more effective than a slide-by-slide drilldown. Use a simple slide deck as a guide and to illustrate important concepts, but don't make it the main focus of training.
- Incorporate quizzes to test understanding of materials. These don’t have to be too long, 3-5 questions and a combination of written answers and multiple choice to make sure key concepts are understood.
- Put away phones and laptops during training time.
“Quick Win” Training Topics
A current SRi client is experiencing a summer slowdown, and asked SRi for some “quick win” ideas for sales training to fill the time. With an understanding of this particular team and its gaps, we recommended several topics, including scripts and key questions. Both would be beneficial to any sales team, new or established. For most sales teams, we also find that objection handling and storytelling are always good to review. Learn about these topics and how to train on them below.
1. Objection handling
What it is: An objection is a stated reason why a prospect is against purchasing your product or proceeding with making a purchasing decision. It’s the job of the salesperson to respond appropriately and provide the right references and information to counter the prospect and retain their interest. Objections occur at every stage in the sales process, becoming more complex the more committed the prospect becomes.
How to train: Identify common objections that your sales team receives. Examine each of these in training, talking through when the objection generally occurs in the sales process, from whom it comes, and what its implications are. Then, practices responses. What is the best/worst way to respond? What stories can be used to make your response appear more authentic and resonate with the prospect? What follow-up materials can be provided to support to your answer? Some of your salespeople may already have great responses they can share with the team, or together you can craft improved objection responses.
What it is: Stories illustrate a picture to the prospect about your clients, and situations they’ve overcome with your solution. They are a visualization tool that allow the teller to operate as an educator and advisor, instead of a pushy sales person, by talking about features, functions, and results in a way that doesn’t sound like you’re reading catalogue. Every salesperson should have 4-5 stories in their back pocket to use in their prospect interactions.
How to train: Start by going around the room and talking about recent successes, which will be crafted into stories. You may find that your sales team has stories that can be shared among them, or they bring a new perspective or client account to a story that makes it more powerful. Once you have identified story material, rewrite them in a way that is easy to follow, addresses prospect pain points, and includes success metrics. Have the sales team practice giving these stories in their own voice, as well as using them to respond to objections.
What it is: Scripts are pre-crafted messages for phone and email that can be used for sales’ communications. They should be customized by each salesperson to be in their voice, and be tweaked depending on the person the salesperson is talking to.
How to train: Have your sales team bring the call scripts they are currently using to training. Practice them in a role-playing scenario to see how they come across. Then, rewrite scripts to be relevant, incorporating references, bold claims, key points, and offers, while keeping it short and interesting to the person on the other end of the phone. Once new scripts have been developed, practice them until they become second nature. When it comes to email scripts, the same rules apply, but subject lines must also be addressed along with text layout. This is also a good time to review standardization of email templates and signatures.
4. Key Questions
What it is: Key questions allow salespeople to dig deeper into prospect needs and motivations, qualify opportunities, and gather important information about an account. Questions should be used at every stage of the sales process, from elevator pitches to sales presentations to proposal presentations. Key questions are thoughtful and show that the salesperson understands the prospect and their situation, and they are open-ended questions versus “yes” or “no”.
How to train: Consider your qualification criteria, and the questions that need to be asked to determine if the prospect is qualified or not. Furthermore, consider your solution, and the questions that would need to be asked to tailor it to the prospect’s needs. This will make it easier to sell value throughout the sales process. Once the key questions have been determined, role play as prospect and salesperson, practicing the incorporation of key questions into sales interactions until they become natural. As a sales tool, write and distribute final scripts and key questions to the sales team for their use.
Sales training doesn’t always have to be a big undertaking. By setting aside a couple of days and taking a “quick win” approach of focusing on just one topic at a time, you can quickly train your team in core areas and see immediate improvement. If after “quick win” training you find your team needs more, check out our Paint-the-Picture® sales playbook. This customized sales training deliverable includes an intensive onsite training session, and guarantees higher close rates and quicker new hire ramp times.