Once upon a time, the extent of sales force training was a few classroom-style lessons followed by a ‘dive in the deep end – sink or swim’ approach.
Sales was viewed as somewhat of a natural talent – either you had the knack, or you didn’t. Many sales staff were left to their own devices (and creativity) to close deals.
However, the sales industry has changed dramatically in recent years, especially since the Global Financial Crisis. What worked pre-GFC (and pre-smartphones and high-speed internet, for that matter) is no longer as effective in today’s highly digital world.
Today, customers have information at their fingertips and are therefore well-informed about products and confident in their decision-making abilities. They’re often sceptical of anyone trying to overtly sell them anything.
The game has changed. To be competitive in this environment, the old approach to sales training simply won’t cut it; sales training needs to be innovative and comprehensive.
You can overcome some of today’s sales challenges by implementing a ‘blended learning’ training plan for your staff. This incorporates several different types of training techniques and topics, serving to educate staff from all angles and ultimately provide them with the expertise they need to succeed.
Every company’s strategy will be slightly different, but here are some of the most common types of sales training techniques that are often included in a blended learning approach.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that face-to-face, on-the-job training is still vitally important. Sales is, above all, a people-focused role, so providing your staff with the opportunity to learn in an environment where they can interact with their managers, ask questions and practice their craft will help them excel.
Traditional ‘classroom-style’ training will only get you so far. Online sales courses and training – via interactive online tests and quizzes – is an extremely effective way to reinforce everything that is taught face-to-face. It gives staff the opportunity to absorb all of the information in a quiet, isolated environment, where they can really think about the techniques they’ve learned.
Furthering your team’s skill set will always be a large part of the sales development process. Practical skills such as writing the perfect introductory email, handling tough questions, managing rejections and memorising product knowledge are all vital pieces of the sales training puzzle.
No matter how well your staff understand sales theories and knows their product inside-out, they may be held back from reaching their full potential if their mindset needs adjusting. How they view themselves – and their abilities – will have a huge impact in how they interact with potential customers. Investing in mindset training is a great way to help them break through any self-confidence barriers and adopt a positive, successful way of thinking.