“Training takes me away from selling.”
“I already know what works best for me.”
Sound familiar? If your team often resists your sales training efforts, you’re not alone. Change is hard, and it takes a lot to convince busy reps that training is worth disrupting their daily grind. And more often than we’d like to admit, they might be right—traditional sales training often falls short and leaves reps feeling like they’ve wasted their time. What does it take to get sales training right?
For most organizations, it’s not what you’re delivering that’s the problem, it’s how you’re delivering it. The modern sales rep doesn’t want to attend a lengthy product training or a grueling all-day conference. Research shows that those tactics just don’t work anymore. In fact, ATD reports that approximately 50 percent of content learned is forgotten within five weeks of a training event, and 84 percent within 90 days. Instead, today’s salesforce is looking for a dynamic, always-on learning environment that delivers relevant, bite-sized training they’ll actually remember.
How can you maximize the impact of your sales training and promote learning? Here are 6 quick tips for building a more flexible, effective sales training program.
1. Lay Out a Clear Plan of Action
Stephen Covey said it best: begin with the end in mind. Without preparing your team for what’s to come and why it’s important, your sales training efforts will just be another obligation on their calendars. Build a plan that delivers clarity and vision: everyone knows where they’re going and how they’re going to get there. The best sales training programs are built collaboratively, delivering a mix of live and online training and self-guided learning.
When you announce the next training, make sure you’re also talking about expectations. How much time do you expect them to put into learning? What’s mandatory and what’s optional? What skills do you expect them to have by the end of the training? Creating alignment and clarity around your training program helps keep everyone on track and motivated to keep learning.
2. Goal Setting
You already know your salesforce is goal-oriented and motivated by success. How do you use that to supercharge your sales training? Let’s say one of your sales reps sets a new performance goal, like exceeding their quota or touching base with new customers more often. As you work with them to identify the steps to achieving their goal, include the sales training that will help them get there.
By tying sales training to the goals that matter most to your reps, you’ll help motivate them from the inside out. Plus, talking about goals encourages sales coaches to create personalized learning paths for reps, like targeted eLearning and one-on-one coaching. With the right training plan, your reps are that much more likely to achieve their goals and win new deals for the business.
You’ve got the framework for a successful sales training program, now it’s time to talk delivery. When you have important sales training information to share, it’s tempting to design a long, complex course that covers every detail. But research shows that concise content delivered in shorter sessions is a better way to learn. Microlearning is all about creating consistent, bite-sized training opportunities for your team so that they’re always learning, practicing, and reinforcing new information.
Today’s sales technology is tailormade to help you easily create a microlearning environment. With the right sales training and enablement platform, you can give reps total access to online courses, helpful resources, and on-demand video practice. Sales training is more efficient and accessible when it comes in the form of a 10-minute training video or a short role-play exercise—and it’ll also feel way less daunting for your reps.
4. On-Demand Training Material
No two sales reps are created equal, so why take a one-size-fits-all approach to training? Your sales reps have varied levels of experience and a range of strengths and weaknesses. Build an arsenal of on-demand training materials to serve every need and learning style. This approach helps turn daily selling activities into teachable moments. When a rep is struggling with a product demo, they can watch a quick video or record and review their performance. Before a new customer conversation, they can pull up a checklist to keep the right talking points top of mind.
Your on-demand training materials should give your reps a sense of freedom and choice. Mandatory training isn’t going away, but providing supplemental learning empowers your team to seek out training on their own timelines. Remember: your salespeople are always on-the-go, so you’ll want to deliver training that keeps up with them. If your platform supports it, go for mobile training that they can access anywhere, even without Wifi.
5. Video Coaching
In a culture of learning, reps stay prepared and informed by engaging with bite-sized training information throughout the day. It’s all about convenience and common sense, which is why video coaching is such an integral part of modern sales training.
Video coaching combines all of the most impactful aspects of training: timely practice, instant feedback, and repetition. Plus, storytelling and presentation skills are two of the most common pain points for salespeople, and there’s no better way to hone your skills than good old-fashioned practice. Whether reps are recording and reviewing on their own or engaging in structured training, video coaching is critical for perfecting a pitch. You can also use video coaching technology to facilitate ‘over the shoulder’ learning by assigning role-play scenarios between reps and enabling feedback on practice pitches that reps record and share.
6. Reinforcement & Repetition
Worried that shorter training sessions with less content will leave your salesforce with knowledge gaps? Without this critical last step—reinforcement and repetition— you’d be right. Delivering bite-sized training information at regular intervals is a great start, but the next step is to incorporate reinforcement learning into your overall training strategy.
After introducing new information, create several opportunities over the next few weeks and months to apply or practice it in different scenarios. For example, after an online course about improving sales conversations, administer a quick quiz to boost recall memory and gauge how much information they’ve retained. After a few more weeks, follow-up with a video coaching session where they can try out their new skills and receive feedback on their performance.