“What is the best way to make sales training really effective?”
If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, you’re in the right place.
In this post I am going to explain to you in detail what you need, in order to see great results through effective sales training.
We’re going to cover the reasons sales training is currently dead, what bad training consists of and how to change that around by implementing the strategies I’ll lay out for you.
I get it, sales training might not be the sexiest thing on the planet.
It’s not very often that you’ll hear, “I really love to train on sales every day!” (Unless, of course, you get a hold of the best sales training on the planet. I can tell you more about that later.)
However, training in and of itself is never the goal.
We train so that we can improve.
Training is just the path we take to get there.
Muhammad Ali once said, “I hated every minute of training. But I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
Training produces results, (aka skills). It’s hardly ever considered to be fun.
If the training you are doing is not producing results, you’re doing something wrong.
If you’re consistently in the gym, lifting weights and training hard and you fail to build muscle or shed fat, you probably start to wonder what you’re doing wrong.
This might drive you to research the exercises you’re doing to see if you’re doing them right.
Or perhaps you decide to talk to a fitness professional about the results you’re failing to see.
Nevertheless training, done well, produces results.
Practicing an instrument makes you a better musician.
Marathon training makes you a better runner.
Therefore, improvement is part of a natural process of consistent training.
If sales training isn’t working for you or your team, you’re not doing the right things.
Note: Everyone needs sales training.
I am not only talking about sales training that pertains to large sales teams. I’ve mentored hundreds and hundreds of consultant coaches over the years, (in addition to training sales teams). Every single business owner would greatly benefit from getting sales training.
Does Sales Training Work?
American companies spend around 20 billion a year on sales training and an average of $1459 per salesperson.
Sadly, as it is today, most of the sales training is not working. The main reason for this is because people are not training the right way. It’s simple: Sales training has largely remained outdated.
Studies indicate that participants in traditional curriculum-based training forget more than 80 percent of the information they were taught within the first three months. (That statistic is reason enough to upgrade your training system).
The Death Of Sales Training
What are the main contributing factors for sales training to be ineffective these days?
Let’s look at a few problems we’re facing in the industry right now.
Some of the most iconic sales training programs were written waaaay before the age of the internet.
Not only is the training method outdated but the content is also outdated.
A statement, such as “The Customer Is Always Right”, is an example of outdated training. If you’ve been in sales for a while, you would have heard this cliche more than once.
If the customer knows everything, there’s no need to talk to you.
Assuming they are always right diminishes the value you can offer.
Agreeing with a customer is also not always right because what if he or she is absolutely wrong?
What they think they know might not be accurate. As a result, you do them a disservice by not challenging their thinking or beliefs.
Have their best interest in mind. Furthermore, realize that they most often don’t know what they are talking about. You are the expert in the field.
Society, culture and social interactions have evolved greatly over the past few decades, yet sales training has remained in the past.
Consequently, much of the information is from 30-50 years ago. So no wonder sales training isn’t effective anymore.
According to a study done by Ernst & Young, 75% of the workforce will be millennials by 2025. Millennials have different buying habits than baby -boomers did. They are more knowledgeable of products before ever even talking to a seller. They research more than the generation prior to them. The difference in the approach to marketing, branding and technology is also huge.
In most cases, sales training is conducted in a way that expects sales reps to absorb large amounts of information in a limited amount of time.
This training is rarely continuous and consistent. Further, sales teams are not provided with performance evaluations or accountability.
Most “meetings” consist of a motivational “fire-up” session that doesn’t provide much, if any training.
Curriculum-based training, focused on things, like selling methodology and time management, might have their (small) place. But this type of training must only be treated as a foundation.
Most content is not engaging or practical and 70% of all information will be forgotten within 48 hours of the training!
Who really performs well without an adequate amount of accountability?
There is very little, (if any), accountability in today’s training scenarios. Without it, results will be lackluster and minimal.
There Is No Money In Training
If a new sales rep needs training, it is obviously the responsibility of the sales manager or owner to provide the adequate instructions.
This, however, takes time away from other important things that move the company forward.
There is no money in training. So it often gets left on the back burner and neglected. In fact, a lot of companies neglect it all-together.
What Does Bad Sales Training Look Like?
Most sales managers still struggle with frequent turnover and lower performing sales teams, even though sales training is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.
Part of the reason for low performing teams is the use of low-quality training.
What does bad training look like?
The one-size fits all approach
There never is a one-size fits all solution. This is why I heavily encourage and teach around principles instead of formulas. A principle gives you a guide to follow, whereas formulas are not flexible. Sales training that operates by scripts and memorized lines is not great training.
Sales Training Retreats
The only way to make these effective is if there is proper support afterward. Very often, when training is done off-site, the things that were learned remain off-site as well.
The salesperson must immediately be given the opportunity to apply the new skills learned.
Little Substance. A lot of motivation with not much training.
There’s nothing wrong with motivation. But if the main goal of the training is to hype up the sales team, I’m sorry, but it’s bad training.
The right kind of sales training provides answers for daily encounters that a salesperson has when out on the field.
Motivation is important – we need it daily. However, salespeople need tools in their toolkit. Motivation won’t cut it when having to deal with objections and stalls.
So now that we’ve talked about why sales training is dead and what makes it bad, I want to provide you with six key things that sales training MUST have in order for it to be amazingly effective.
1. Sales Training Must Be Automatically Mandatory
Yes, that’s right. Sales training must not be an option. This is as true for a salesperson as it is for any entrepreneur.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you must train to be good at sales.
Your livelihood depends on it.
Let’s say you want to start a consulting or coaching business, for example.
If you are set on building a thriving consulting practice, you’ll need to train to be good at sales.
Because you’ll need to know how to sell your consulting services!
This might be shocking to you, (I know it amazed me at first), but a lot of new consultants or coaches do not realize that if they don’t get out and sell their services, they will not be in business.
Sales Training is something that every person in business must be committed to doing every single day.
It is not an option for athletes to train or not to train.
Being an athlete is their profession.
As an entrepreneur, you’re in the game of sales. Not training in sales is equal to a professional athlete refusing to train and just getting in the game for the championships.
How To Make Training Mandatory
- Include it in their working hours: The best way to ensure your sales team trains on sales every day is to require them to show up 15 minutes early to their shift. Make training a part of your company’s culture.
- Make it easily accessible: The most realistic way that training is going to happen every day from 8:45-9am is to make it accessible to every salesperson.
- Have an accountability system: It’s tough to make anything mandatory without a good accountability system in place. (More on this later).
For Consultants: Learn How To Sell Your Consulting Services
Salespeople are not the only ones that need to train.
Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of consultants and coaches all over the world.
I know that one of the biggest problems they run into is the lack of sales ability .
Let’s look at a common example: A new coach or consultant is eager to start working with clients (and actually get paid to do so).
They’ve worked hard to become certified as a health coach or consultant.
They’ve spent many hours writing out their business plan and tweaking their program. At this point they are ready to take on clients.
But this is when they realize that they’ve missed a very important part of the puzzle.
They need actual people that will pay for their services.
(If that’s you, check out my article on how to start a consulting business the right way.)
Many great coaches and consultants have given up on their dreams because they have not learned to sell their consulting services.
This is a sad reality.
The point is, no matter what your business is, sales training must be something you are committed to. It must be mandatory. It is not something you can take or leave.
Sales is the lifeblood of your business and without the ability and the knowing how to sell your consulting services, you’re going to die a slow and miserable death.
(Or a fast one because you’ll not even have a business without sales).
2. Sales Training Must Be Automated To Be Daily
If it’s not worth doing everyday, it’s not worth doing.
Well, that might sound a bit intense but there is truth to that.
How much progress do you make in the gym when you train once or twice a month? Probably not much.
In many organizations, sales training is conducted during a single, one-off, fast-paced information dump.
In these settings salespeople are expected to memorize new features, workflows, message maps, and sales tactics without further accountability.
This often occurs in the early stage of their employment in a boot camp style environment.
80% of the information they learned during those intense boot-camp type trainings, will be forgotten in just a matter of weeks!
How To Do It Daily
Imagine your sales people trained for 15-20 minutes every day, Monday- Friday.
Imagine if you, as a consultant, coach or product-based entrepreneur trained every day?
How much difference do you think that would make in the overall performance? You’re right! It would lead to an increase in sales. It has to.
So what can you do to make training a daily thing in your organization or in your own business?
- Plan it into the day
- Set up an accountability system
- Make it easily accessible
Athletes train daily. It only makes sense, that if you want to grow your company, you MUST be committed to training on sales every day.
You, as a coach or consultant, are first and foremost a salesperson. Why do I say this?
Well, because the cash flow and survival of your business depends entirely on you! If you don’t make sales, you won’t have a business.
In fact a business that doesn’t have sales if not a business, it’s a very expensive hobby.
Want to know how to ensure you don’t fail in starting your consulting business? (Because 80% of businesses fail in the first year, that is just a fact)
Get sales training, and train EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Training isn’t hard. But it takes discipline.
The fruit of consistent and diligent training will pay off and you will have a thriving business.
Training principles must be reinforced daily in order for them to become habits.
Look for programs that provide daily support, follow-up and accountability in a way that is automated for you.
3. Sales Training Must Be Automated
We’ve talked about the importance of training being mandatory and daily but you’re probably wondering how it can be automated. The best and most effective sales training is automated.
Why do I focus so much on automating the training?
For one, no sales manager or business owner I’ve ever met is looking for MORE things to do.
You’re trying to empty your plate, not fill it! So that’s why you need to make it a priority to automate as much as you can.
Some more reasons to automate are,
- Allows the training to be unique to each salesperson. Automated training is more effective because it allows each salesperson to focus on the areas that they need to improve in.
- It saves (a lot of) time! Having an automated sales training system will save a sales manager a TON of time that can be spent in more productive ways.
- Flexibility. It doesn’t matter what time or where. Automation in your training will provide the flexibility for sales people to be able to train wherever they are.
If you’ve ever had a sales team, or you’re a sales manager, you know that having to come up with a daily training topics for you sales staff is a lot of work and can take a considerable amount of time.
You also cannot be talking about every topic your people might be struggling with because, well, you’re just one person.
This is the very reason, training is not done every day in many organizations.
Even though I highly recommend individual and automated training, sometimes you’ll still need to come up with Sales Meeting Ideas.
Sales Meeting Ideas
If you need some Sales Meeting ideas, here are ten good topics to cover on your next meeting:
- How to prospect (in person and digitally)
- How to handle objections
- Asking great questions
- How To close the sale
- Selling to millennials
- Have a role-playing session
- How to have great energy in a sales encounter
- How to use social media for digital prospecting
- The best ways to use networking for lead generation
- How to qualify a potential buyer
Let’s look at a couple of practical ways you can automate all of your training:
- Use an Interactive Virtual Training system to train your sales staff. This is the best option out there today.
When using a virtual system, the training can be completely done for you by a sales training company.
As a result, these systems allow you to track progress and provide intense accountability as well.
The best thing is that it’s all automated and you don’t need to spend more than a couple of minutes per week reviewing each salesperson’s progress or lack thereof.
If you want to know more about this type of training system, check out this page.
2. If you don’t have an automated training system, a helpful hack that can save you a lot of time, is to make a list at the start of every week or month (depending on how far out you want to plan) with ideas to talk about on the morning meeting.
This will make it more likely for you to actually follow through with your meeting.
4. Sales Training Must Be Automatically Interactive
Traditional sales training just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Getting reps to perform with complete sales readiness requires more than an occasional assessment or mass-communication course.
Forcing people to learn something doesn’t work so well anymore either.
What is the alternative?
The best sales training programs provide Interactive training.
In today’s world, everyone is constantly being entertained by their devices, social media, games, headlines and the next shiny attraction.
Yet, our training remains the same.
No wonder people aren’t learning!
An intensive, all-day, boring lecture on sales isn’t going to keep sales people motivated and excited to learn.
(Much less remember anything they heard).
There is no way to expect students or employees to stay engaged and actually learn something by implementing old- school sales training techniques.
Making a salesperson sit through terrible presentations that are too long, boring, irrelevant and not valuable enough is sufficient reason to get a great training system set up.
One that not only simulates a real life live scenario but also is interactive and fun in its approach.
People today are looking for hands-on training and access to materials when they really need it.
This holds even more true for Millennials who prefer learning through a variety of educational styles.
5. Sales Training Must Automatically Include Accountability
Accountability is of utmost importance in a high-performance team.
All you need to do is to Google “how to keep your sales staff accountable”, and you’ll get a whole variety of ideas and hacks on how to do this.
A list of these include things like, having a clear list of consequences and rewards and enabling your team to be successful.
However, you won’t find much (if anything) around having accountability in training.
Why is accountability in training so important?
We know the role that accountability plays in our life when we are trying to reach a goal. Without proper accountability, it can be hard to follow through on our good intentions.
This is one of the reasons the coaching and consulting industry has exploded in recent years.
People are discovering that they are able to go a lot further, a lot quicker when somebody is walking the process with them, guiding them down the right path while holding them accountable to the goals they set out wanting to achieve.
Three Reasons You Need Accountability
- See who’s showing up and in the game and who’s not.
Having an accountability system built in to your sales training will give you the ability to see who is actually training and who isn’t.
You’ll be able to get rid of uncommitted team players quicker.
Furthermore, you’ll also be able to see what areas every team member is good at and needs improvement in.
2. Empowers the team
Knowing that there is accountability built in to the training will be empowering to the team because they will not need to guess what is expected of them.
Including accountability into your sales training will allow you to track each individuals progress…or lack thereof.
You’ll not need to guess who’s paying attention or not.
4. Breeds Excellence in company culture
There is nothing like a good accountability system to help breed excellence in a company culture and it starts with the training.
If you have a sales team that is held accountable to train every day, you will already have set a great foundation for overall excellence.
4. Ensures personal responsibility and ownership
This one is pretty obvious, but including accountability in the sales training encourages the salesperson to take responsibility and ownership of their skill levels.
If you are a solo business owner, such as a consultant or a coach, you too, must be accountable to training every day.
Just like you would for your health and fitness goals, or when you’re trying to learn an instrument.
Including Accountability in your sales training is KEY to achieving winning results. The best sales training includes the best accountability.
6. Sales Training Must Include Automated Testing
I say automated testing because it takes time to test individual sales people every day.
Have you ever sat through a training session appearing to be awake, yet letting your mind wander to a million and one other things that seem so much more appealing than a long training session?
Or maybe you’ve been that trainer who gave the long, boring session and wondered who was even paying attention to what you had to say?
The point is, in a traditional-classroom type setting, there’s not way of knowing who is actually paying attention and who is not.
The way to solve this is by including individual testing for all of the information that is being taught.
The best sales training courses include a lot of testing.
Why is testing so important?
- It allows you to see who is learning the material and who isn’t.
- The ability to go back and train on areas of weakness
- Provides the overview of what a salesperson is learning
The best way to test is to do it after each segment of new information. For best results, testing must be interactive and fun.
Testing is not just important for sales teams.
If you’re an entrepreneur, testing yourself can help you recognize your weak points and give you an overview of what to spend more time on.
It will definitely help you sell your services better.
Sales Training can be amazingly effective, if it’s:
- Automatically Mandatory
- Automated To Be Daily
- In and Of Itself Automated
- Automated To Be Interactive
- Includes Automated Accountability
- Includes Automated Testing
The best sales training and sales training programs include all 6 of those points.
If you’re still relying upon weekend retreats, long, boring all-day training meetings, you’re doing something that may have worked back in the day but are no longer effective today.
The good news is, you don’t need to go and create an entire automated training program.
Based on my experience as a third-generation sales trainer, we’ve built up the best sales training curriculum out there if you’re looking for a more modern approach to sales.
I’ve literally worked with hundreds and hundreds of businesses over the past 15 years.
Our Virtual Training System, which is highly interactive, includes 20 Courses, covering everything from Prospecting to Follow Up and Hiring great people, and so much more.
If you’re a sales manager, owner of a company, or an entrepreneur that needs to sell your services, this training is guaranteed to help you.
We are able do the training for you, so it’s 100% automated and you can focus all of your energy on building the business.
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