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5 Sales Training Ideas to Improve Results (and Sustain Them)

Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

By now you know that teaching people how to sell and become Top Performers takes more than a one- or two-day event. It takes ongoing reinforcement.

Sales training is a change initiative. Going through a single class in two days does not change the way sellers sell. Change happens over time, once sellers get back to work and start implementing newly learned skills.

For the best sales training initiative, you need to support this change. Here are 5 sales training ideas to help you do just that:

  1. Develop a challenge: This works for 2 reasons: 1) We are creatures of habit. The more you can make desired behaviors a part of your sellers' regular routine, the more they will consistently perform them. 2) Everyone (especially sellers) loves a good challenge.

    The challenge should be meaningful, attainable, and align with your priorities and goals. Have a prize for anyone who completes the challenge.

    For example, if a major priority is generating new customers, you may challenge your sellers to create 2-3 new prospect meetings each week for 6 weeks. The idea is that if they can do this for 6 weeks, there's no reason they can't do it every week.

  2. Develop curricula for different sales roles: Not all sellers should go through the same sales training. Here are a few ideas for different training tracks:

    • New hire ramp up
    • Top Performers or advanced training topics
    • Sales conversations
    • Account management
    • Opportunity management
    • Negotiation

    You want to align training with the person's role and level. Sales training should match the goals of each role and meet people where they're at.

  3. Share successes: People are more inclined to change their behaviors if they know that change works. They want to know that what they're doing has been proven to be effective. There's no better way to prove this than by sharing the success of others who've gone through the training.

    If sellers see colleagues using the tools and techniques to enjoy success, they'll want to do the same.

    Share successes early and often to allow the training to gain traction and boost engagement.

  4. Keep training and reinforcement interactive: You can't learn to ride a bike by reading a manual. You also can't learn to sell by reading about selling. Real learning happens by doing. Training programs themselves need to focus more on interaction than presentation. This can be achieved through relevant case studies and role plays, by working on actual accounts and opportunities, and through examples and simulations.

    Reinforcement should be interactive as well. Quick snippets and sales scenarios that sellers can respond to on their phones or email tend to work well.

  5. Teach sales managers how to coach: If you want sales training to stick, you need sales managers who are able to coach sellers on implementing the tools and skills learned.

    Yet, according to our Top-Performing Sales Organization research, only 3 in 10 companies agree that their sales managers have the skills they need to manage and coach sellers. Without the support of sales managers, much training is forgotten and never implemented.

For too many companies, sales training does not produce the behavior change necessary for long-term sales success. Implementing these ideas can make all the difference.


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Topics: Sales Training Sales Performance Improvement