A structured, proactive approach to sales training is one of the biggest differentiators you can have in your organization. Some of your sales team members may be "sales naturals," but they can still use sales training to sharpen their skills even more.
Sales training helps your team members to learn new things and keeps them motivated to crush their sales goals. Training your sales reps is the number one way you'll reach your organizational sales goals.
We provide you with concrete reasons why you should develop and implement a sales program, along with the types of training you can do, and 20 of the best sales training ideas you can adopt.
Why You Need a Sales Training Program
Sales training is critical to a company's success. Having a sales training program in place can help keep your sales team on track each and every quarter. One training every couple of years isn't enough to keep your sales team at the top of their game.
If you were coaching an all-star sports team, you wouldn't expect them to win every game by practicing once a year. Don't expect that your sales team will win every deal by participating in one sales training per year.
Today's business environment is highly competitive, and the best way to compete is to have advantage over your competition with a strong sales team. And strong sales teams are not born – they are trained.
A trained sales team is equipped with everything they need to generate new opportunities for your business that can lead to great returns.
Here are a few more reasons why sales training programs are worth the investment:
It Improves Sales Skills.
The only way to improve skills is to practice them. Sometimes the best way to practice sales skill is in sales training classes, with mentors, or with peers.
For instance, playing out different sales scenarios or reviewing good and bad sales calls can help your sales team members to sharpen their skillset.
This may help them avoid common sales mistakes.
It's a Source of Motivation and Inspiration.
Sales jobs are difficult. It is easy to get discouraged if prospects keep slipping through the cracks. Sales teams need motivation and inspiration to build resilience on the sales floor.
Team trainings can help your sales reps bounce ideas off each other and allow them to see what sales techniques work well and which ones don't.
It Can Increase Your Win Rates.
According to the Sales Readiness Group, companies who had excellent sales training programs that exceeded expectations had higher win rates at 52.6 percent compared to companies that either met expectations (48 percent) or needed improvement (40.5 percent).
Simply put, your training can directly impact how much revenue you generate.
3 Types of Sales Training to Consider
Review these three types of sales training to identify which one is best for your organization and your sales team. Some of the training types can be combined, or you may use them separately.
1. Sales Skill Training
Sales skill training is "how to" sales training that focuses on using exercises such as coaching sessions, role playing, supportive feedback, and other activities to sharpen sales skills.
This form of training works best when you customize it to fit your organization and the situations that a salesperson may face in their position.
Skills training requires a capable leader who can capture and inspire an audience while bringing less tangible sales concepts to life. They must also have the ability to offer constructive criticism that is helpful and encouraging. Sales skill and methodology training complement each other and can be used together.
2. Sales Methodology Training
Sales methodology training teaches a concrete sales method that can be repeated using a series of steps. When methods are executed properly, it can significantly increase your odds of a favorable outcome.
Adopting a standard sales methodology for your organization provides a common language for approaching essential sales activities. For instance, you can build a methodology for sales call preparation and execution, account management, complex deals, negotiations, and overcoming objections.
Methodology training is often a part of a software tool that can be embedded in a CRM system. This form of training also focuses on some aspects of sales skill training.
3. Product Training
This type of sales training focuses solely on a product's features and benefits. This type of sales training is great for new sales team members, or for your existing sales team when you get a new product or a product with updated features.
Product training is best when an organization has already established methodology training along with sales skill training. This way, a sales rep can focus more on the customer and less on the product, but they can still answer product questions with accuracy and ease.
20 Sales Training Ideas You Can Adopt Now
Here is a list of the 20 best sales training activities, ideas, and games designed to empower your sales team.
1. Embrace Field Training.
Field training stands head and shoulders above the rest as one of the most powerful ways to approach sales team development. According to Brainshark, it can raise your ROI from other types of sales training initiatives by 400 percent.
All it takes is a little timely reinforcement of ideas backed by the opportunity to see their application in the real world.
2. Craft a Great Incentive Strategy.
Performance incentives have always been a valuable part of getting the best from sales teams. The right incentive can motivate team members to reach higher.
Current unemployment rates are low (around 4.3 percent), so incentives are crucial to your overall retention strategy. Use them to get more reps engaged in training themselves and others.
3. Hold 1:1 Meetings
There are always new opportunities to help your team members excel, but you might not notice them unless you are doing regular check-ins.
There should be structured and freeform portions to each 1:1, giving both parties the opportunity to offer useful feedback and insights. You’ll need regular blocks of time on your schedule to ensure consistent results.
4. Improve Your Processes.
Your sales team may have some truly talented people, but processes help determine whether they can succeed or not. How do processes relate to sales training?
Asking your team members to identify process gaps will help them think about the big picture, which can bring them around to become candidates for future sales leadership positions.
Hint: Look at follow up practices!
5. Ramp Up Your New Employee Onboarding.
If onboarding seems like a chore, then it’s time to look closely at it and how it could be better. After all, it’s the one sales training experience everyone will have the same way.
Onboarding shouldn’t end with a basic explanation of the rules: Immerse your new team members in call playbacks, let them shadow calls, and have them ride along to achieve more.
6. Shift to Assessment-Based Learning.
No matter your background or interests, new information quickly fades from your mind if you don’t use it or reinforce it.
Most traditional sales training programs focus on adoption – whether or not sales reps participated – but assessment is where the real action is. Implement more assessment, and you’ll soon see where team skills are growing (or not).
7. Institute Daily Micro-Training.
Recent research has uncovered more about the power of “micro-habits,” simple habits that take only a few seconds to execute. They can lead to major, long-term behavioral changes over time.
The same principles can be used in sales training. Spending just 10 minutes a day on a topic can build new sales muscles as long as the effort is consistent and feedback is available.
8. Assign Mentors to New or Struggling Sales Team Members.
In any profession, mentors have a tremendous impact. The right mentor at the right time can help a new hire set the trajectory for a successful career with an executive outcome.
Mentors have a dual role: First, they help you avoid pitfalls you’d otherwise have to learn about with trial and error. Second, they boost confidence as a trusted role model. Pairing up with one early is essential.
9. Do Group Training the Right Way.
What about traditional sales training techniques like annual all-hands sales training events? These can be phenomenal – if they are calculated to produce real results.
That means making them actionable with clear success stories and step-by-step insights so others can reproduce excellent results. To set the foundation, be sure to collect “lessons learned” from each sales project and campaign.
10. Offer Feedback Often.
What’s the basic bottom line that drives all of the most useful sales training initiatives? It’s very simple: Feedback. Feedback isn’t something sales pros should have to wait a year or even a quarter for.
“On the spot” feedback should suffuse the entire sales experience along with plenty of occasions to collect 360 evaluations from supervisors, peers, subordinates, and clients.
11. Listen to and Analyze Sales Call Recordings.
This simple training is a great way to see how attentive your sales reps are. This training exercise involves playing back recorded sales and meeting calls and writing down the good and bad aspects of the calls.
A good practice for this training is to listen to the call with your sales rep, write down what they did well and what they could do better, and then compare notes.
Listen to your sales rep's opinion on how the call went and then allow them to explain their opinion.
This helps to equip reps with the necessary confidence, vocabulary, and direction to take the conversation in a productive way.
12. Conduct a Competitive Analysis.
Your sales team members need to know about your competitors. New sales team members may even run into questions about your comparative strengths and weaknesses on their first sales call. You should equip the with the proper information so they know how to respond appropriately.
Encouraging reps to conduct their own competitive analysis can help them:
- Find internal documentation you already have on the subject.
- Focus on one area of your product or service so they learn more about what your company does and how.
- Offer new arguments and talking points for future sales calls.
13. Encourage Certifications.
Offer online sales certification classes to your team to help them enhance their skills. You can even set up a certification day that all of your sales team members are required to participate in. Make the certification day fun by offering free breakfast or lunch.
HubSpot Academy provides several free sales certification courses you can encourage them to take.
After the classes, discuss important items from the sales certifications and ask your team members for their feedback on the certification class.
14. Have Your Team Do Objection Handling Exercises.
Objection handling is an essential skill in the sales world. Most, if not all, sales people will face common objections on their calls. The best way to combat objections is to prepare for them using a standard approach that is tailored to your organization.
Have your sales reps write down some of the reasons why people would reject your product or service. Then, have them come up with the best counters to those objections. This way, they'll be prepared to respond when someone brings up one of the concerns on a call.
15. Provide Subscriptions to Industry Newsletters, Podcasts, and Publications.
Keep your sales team equipped with knowledge.
Some newsletters and podcasts are free. Offer them to your sales team to keep them aware of industry trends and new sales techniques.
16. Display or Present Your Buyer's Journey.
New hires should be educated on your typical buyer's journey for your product or service. Show your new sales team members what your buyer's journey is like in a presentation format.
You could make your presentation follow a specific buyer persona who addresses their problems and searches for solutions. Provide information about how they found your business and what made them choose your business.
This should help your salespeople gain an understanding of their future customer's pain points, the whole sales cycle, and how your service or product helps.
17. Play Sales Training Games.
Sales training games are interactive, engaging, educational, and fun. Incorporate sales training games into your sessions to help sales skills and information stick to your sales' reps' memory long after the training is over.
Some games you can play include:
- Cold Call Bingo!
- Pop Quiz
- Match Game
- Sell Me This Pen
- Elevator Pitch
18. Focus on Each of Your Sales Rep's Strengths.
Have your sales reps share their strengths and success stories. This will help your new sales team members feel good about their strengths, and it will encourage novice sales team members to borrow ideas and techniques from some of your best sales reps.
Sales meetings are the best time for this type of training. Some of the ways you can focus on your sales team's strengths is looking at the following:
- How they apply what they learn from each win.
- How they overcame objections.
- How they positioned value.
- What they'll do on the next call to make the sales experience even better for the new leads to come.
This is a positive way for your sales team to learn from and encourage each other.
19. Bring in Outsiders.
Do you know of any sales thought leaders on social media? Reach out to them and see if they can come in to offer a training session to your team.
This is an exciting way to mix up training classes to inspire your team. You may also use consultants or other outside speakers to talk to your team.
20. Identify the Red Flags of Bad Customers.
Not every sales pitch will be given to the ideal customer. Sometimes your sales team will come face to face with difficult customers. Your team may do everything right, and the sales pitch just won't stick.
Train them to identify individuals who aren't a right fit for your products so they don't waste time trying to sell them on your products or services.
Everyone comes into sales with different skills and traits they can use to be successful.
The best way to help team members reach more of their potential faster is to make sure they are getting a constant flow of sales training opportunities aligned to amplify their strengths, correct their weaknesses, and help them demystify their looming sales challenges.