While most companies agree that sales training is important, they also agree that it is ineffective. Salespeople enter sessions with low expectations and leave with a few new ideas, but no measurable improvement in their sales skills. To make your sales training more efficient, keep these three principles in mind.
#1 Focus on one thing at a time
As the saying goes, when you’re good at a lot of things, you’re great at nothing. Most traditional sales training focuses on delivering a large swath of information. Sales training companies spend several days covering as much as they possibly can, leaving sales reps overwhelmed.
They take some notes, highlight a few points, and then leave the class without really developing new skills or improving existing skills. This broad and narrow approach is nothing more than short-term knowledge transfer with little long-term retention or behavioral change.
Instead of covering every step of the sales process all at once, start by focusing on only what is essential. What are the primary skills your sales team really needs to develop? Prospecting? Qualifying? Presenting? Narrow your training focus and dive deeper into just a few topics. That way your sales team advances towards competency faster in those areas. That should produce the initial results you expect.
#2 Stretch out your training initiative
Because traditional sales training companies are so focused on disseminating as much information as possible in as short a time as possible, they fail to realize that their time frame is disproportionate to the volume of content. Sales reps simply cannot absorb that much information in such a short period of time. But then they’re expected to immediately transfer that knowledge into improved sales behaviors. Only time will provide the opportunity for that. Don’t try to improve prospecting skills in a one-hour seminar. Instead, commit 10 hours over 10 weeks. Then you can work through the issues, experiences to help your reps gain the skill they need.
In order to deliver truly effective sales training, dedicate less class time to delivering knowledge and more time practicing the new knowledge. Which leads us to the next point…
#3 Reinforcement is key
To make your sales training better, don’t finish after the initial information has been shared. The transfer of knowledge is not the ultimate goal of sales training. Unfortunately, that is as far as most traditional training goes. Once the sales rep understands the information, they need to practice (again and again) so that they actually develop their skills.
Training is conditioning to perform on the job. It’s the practical application of knowledge. The more the rep practices during training, the more confident they will be in the initial phase of development – immediately after the training session is over. If they feel confident applying the new knowledge they learned in class and they experience positive results compared to their previous behaviors, they will stick with it and be poised for further development. If not, the strong tendency to revert back to old habits is inevitable.
By changing how you define effective sales training, you can connect with a company that delivers the type of focused training that will actually improve your team’s skills. Search for a company that tailors trainings to fit your specific needs, keeps content narrow and relevant, and allows time for practice and role-play sessions.