It is unlikely that someone would ever disagree with the statement, “sales training is important.” However, it is very common to come across organizations that are not actively providing training to their sales teams. Why does this happen? There are numerous reasons, which we will explore, and then we will discuss the importance of implementing fundamental sales training and why it is the key to an organization’s sales success.
Sales Training is a Necessary Investment
One of the most common reasons why a company doesn’t actively train their salespeople is because they believe they already did. These organizations look at training as a one-time event that should instantaneously change their salesperson’s habits and behaviors to align with their own. Unfortunately, it doesn’t typically work that way. Those habits, including bad habits, that your salespeople have developed over a period of time can only be replaced with more productive habits through time and repetitive, reinforced training.
Another common culprit is the conundrum of training versus coaching. Managers may feel they have offered sufficient training by conducting one or even multiple training sessions, but follow-up coaching is omitted. Coaching is the on-going, daily, hands-on support to help your team apply what they learned through training. A salesperson may have a book of great resources and/or sales scripts, but if they don’t know how and when to use them, those tools become less effective and less valuable to them. Anytime something new is learned in an educational setting, it takes time, exposure, repetition, and practice to perfect it in the real world.
Related to coaching, and also resulting in a lack of critical sales training, is the ability to measure whether or not the training was effective. If an organization is not careful to set KPIs and goals with their sales teams and have clear reporting in place to track changes over time, they will find it difficult to realize any positive change from the training provided. Further, if money is being spent with an outside organization to provide the training, and the impact cannot be measured, it’s likely sales training could be presumed to be ineffective and discontinued.
If a sales team is not reaching their goals, sales managers may opt to lay blame on poor talent and/or laziness. As you can see from the related discussion above, that may not be the case. It could be a lack of training, coaching, or follow-through that is contributing to the poor sales results.
Sales Training as a Top Priority for Organizations
One of the most important reasons to implement an ongoing training program is that employees want and need to feel invested to commit their time and appreciable efforts into an organization. Your employee retention, as well as the ability to recruit strong talent, will improve with an integrated training program in place. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Trends report, 94% of employees would stay longer with companies that are willing to invest in their professional development.
Sales training and extended coaching contributes to many positive things. For your employees, it provides them with the benefit of fine-tuning existing skills, adding new skills and development, and the sense of being invested and valued. As an employer, it encourages a mindset of “getting back to the basics,” so you are more likely to have a sales team that is grounded and follows the process you have invested time and money into developing. It also keeps strategy talk at the forefront, motivating salespeople to keep their foot on the gas.
Understanding the Role of Training and the Positive Impact that Follows
Organizations need to consider that training your sales management team, as well as sales representatives, will further the positive impact on sales productivity and results. It is important to give your managers the tools they need to be successful, including the ability to provide guidance and direction on uncovering opportunities, the sales funnel, strategy sessions on closing accounts, and how to revive lost opportunities. Your management team is the frontline resource for your sales representatives, and they need to be able to coach effectively. Training the entire team and providing them with proven sales processes taught by professional instructors will get them closing more deals, more often.
A sales team that has had impactful sales training will have mastered techniques including:
- Effective questioning skills to identify prospect wants and needs
- Understanding differentiated prospect buying styles and being able to adapt to them
- Prospecting techniques and understanding qualified leads
- Building better relationships with leads
- The selling process and clear steps for closing a sale
- Sales strategies including managing objections and selling on value
- Creating a sense of loyalty with existing customers
The bottom line, by providing impactful and ongoing sales training, you will be creating a team of high-performing salespeople who in turn will be helping your business achieve, and likely exceed, your goals.
Danielle Cumbee is Spectrum Automotive Holdings’ director of sales integration.