By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing Inc. Join him on April 10, 2013 in San Francisco for a half-day seminar, “Sales Training: Strategies & Best Practices for a Consistently Successful Sales Organization.” Register here.
World-class sales organizations don’t just train their reps during new-hire orientation, when the product changes, or during the annual sales kick-off.
The best sales organizations – those that consistently exceed expectations and retain their best reps – make sales training a regular, weekly discipline. Training is ingrained in how they do business and tied to constant achievement.
Here are eight ways you can make training a priority and use it to keep your sales team invigorated.
1) Make time for training.
Training doesn’t have to be extensive every time. Teachable, trainable moments can take just minutes but, over time, can add up. If you have daily huddles at the beginning of the sales day, include a brief success story that links back to some previous training effort. Be sure to make the link between the training and the result clear so reps start to value training time.
2) Identify skills; then find or assign “owners” across the organization.
Do you have a training plan? If not, start simply with an inventory of skills or lessons you want to impart across the floor. These can include
- cold-calling skills,
- negotiation skills,
- voicemail best practices,
- follow-up tips,
- lead nurturing best practices, etc.
As you build that inventory, think about which reps are already doing a great job. Make them the owner of that skill. As you build that skill-and-owner matrix, you’ll have the start of a training plan that can be executed over the coming days and weeks in your regular sales meetings and rhythms.
3) Get non-sales executives involved.
Could someone in marketing teach your reps about how to find & listen for buying signals across the social web in their territories? What could product management teach reps about how customers use your products and services? Encourage leaders from across the company to share what they know, and come teach your reps. I bet you’ll be surprised at what sales skills exist across the company.
4) Get reps to share best practices.
This can be in the form of a veteran-to-newbie mentorship program, but you can also encourage reps to showcase their best practices in team meetings. (As a bonus, this is a further develop their presentation and communication skills.)
5) Create a “best practices library” on your intranet.
Document best practices and create a repository for them. This will help reinforce the best practice and give you a resource to use with new reps. If you don’t, you’ll waste a lot of time creating the same content again and again. How you organize and present this information is up to you. If you already have a company or sales team intranet, create a section to file and organize best practices. Or just get a wiki or other, similar tool to keep them in one place.
6) Share feedback from customers and prospects.
Why not invite a few customers to come in and brief your sales team directly? Find local customers (and prospects) who can share with your reps what their primary needs & pain points are, and answer questions honestly about how they react to and work with sales reps.
Similarly, find where your target customers are congregating and talking to each other. Record these sessions, or summarize the key topics to share with your sales team. The more your team can hear directly from the customer and prospect, the better.
Join Matt on April 10, 2013 in San Francisco for a half-day seminar, “Sales Training: Strategies & Best Practices for a Consistently Successful Sales Organization.” Register here.