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Advice For Training Your Sales Team

When training sales people, it is common to throw a deluge of data at them and hope something sticks.  “Surely”, the management team believes, “whatever seems promising will point us in the direction to show us what additional training is required.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Your sales staff is not your beta test and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Of course, you also have the added issue of a mature sales team which will include both veteran and rookie account managers.  How do you train them both while maintaining relevance for each?  There is a valid approach to training your staff but it must be well-developed; keeping in mind the many different experience levels you are dealing with.

The fact is, (while many seasoned vets will say otherwise), everyone will benefit from a refresher of the basics.  Let me say that again…EVERYONE will benefit from a refresher of the basics.  There may be a lot of mumbling and complaining from the tenured reps but falling into a rut is a very easy thing to do.  Re-learning what you are supposed to be doing is a good way to help get everyone back on track.

Also, don’t just lecture.  Lecturing is a great way to ensure your reps won’t retain too much of what you are teaching them.  Make the class interactive and when breaking up into groups try to have the veterans mix in with the newbies.  This will allow for multiple methods to be presented to all the reps as they will learn from each other.  By not separating the two groups the senior sales reps won’t push each other and the new sales reps won’t be exposed to the current techniques used in the field.

You can make the training more interesting credible for the sales team if you incorporate a new service or product your company will be offering its clients.  The training will not be seen as just another event that pulls them from away from their desks but rather as a crucial element that will help them sell better.

Finally, have action steps the sales staff will be responsible for as they relate to the training sessions.  The training, regardless of how appropriate and relevant it may be, will not be adopted if there isn’t a call to action.  Sales people are notoriously habitual and adding and removing elements to their day is very difficult.  Establish a daily and weekly task for the reps to complete.  Initially, offer an incentive to complete it as it will help your investment in training.  On the job training is the best kind of training and I have spoken of it in a previous blog.  It is an expensive process to teach a team and your company should do everything it can to garner as much benefit from the sessions.  Don’t penalize your staff for not following through with the training as you will be setting a dangerous precident for all future trainings.  Sales teams require regular training sessions of all kinds and turning them off to the process could prove catastrophic to everyone involved.

Remember, a properly planned-out training session is not an overnight event.  It takes thought, time and input from both the management staff, as well as from the senior sales people.  The company need to put as much thought into it as possible in order for the sales team to gain the most benefit from it.  Properly done, you and your sales staff will benefit, and, more importantly, so will your clients.


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