Sales training is one of the most important investments most companies make, because it allows them to close the gap between current performance and potential performance. Nevertheless, around 80 percent of respondents to a recent study by the Rain Group Center rated their own training as being between average and poor.
Here, we take a look at some of the best sales training practices the most successful managers follow.
Use of Simulation or Role-Playing
Many organizations still utilize classroom-based, instructor-led training, which can be incredibly effective. However, it is important to balance it with practical learning as well.
Without applying learned information quickly, most expenditure on corporate training is wasted, because unfortunately people forget new information extremely quickly. Precisely how much knowledge is lost - and how quickly - is difficult to say, as studies vary significantly, but most agree that the majority of information is lost within a week.
"Role-playing [also] provides a safe environment to encounter [new] scenarios for the first time, which builds confidence in team members that can help them in their day-to-day roles," explains John Buelow, executive vice president of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute.
Sales Coaching and Reinforcement
Successful sales training requires newly acquired sales skills to be reinforced regularly, or else staff revert to old habits, and coaching is one of the best solutions. For this reason, coaching is often one of the most important things for a sales manager to learn and is a key component of most sales management training programs.
Yet, many sales managers continue to neglect their coaching responsibilities. Indeed, the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Best Practices Study revealed that just 32 percent of sales managers are currently spending sufficient time on coaching. In companies performing to a world-class standard, however, this figure rises to 88 percent.
A structured coaching program will allow leaders to work closely with staff to highlight issues, set targets and ensure new skills are put into practice. Meanwhile, reinforcement literature should also be made available. According to Aberdeen Group, 20 percent more reps achieve quota when post-training reinforcement is implemented.
Technology and Mobile-Friendliness
Finally, the most successful managers know that technology can be utilized to significantly improve both the quality of training and its results. In truth, technology can be deployed in an almost limitless number of ways, ranging from the use of virtual instructors in classroom settings, to bite-size video content.
One growing technology trend in corporate training has been the gamification of the learning process and eLearning Industry report that gamification features, such as the ability to progress to different levels, choose a difficulty setting, etc. can lead to a nine percent increase in retention rates. Meanwhile, adult learners who participated in gamified e-learning experiences scored 14 percent higher in skills-based knowledge assessments.
Furthermore, technology can be used to make learning a mobile experience. By ensuring that learning materials are available to access and use on mobile devices, sales skills can be improved even while outside the workplace, learning can become part of staff members' daily routines, and information can be reinforced on the go.
When it comes to delivering high-quality sales training, or sales management training, it is not just the quality of the information that matters, but the quality of delivery and follow-up. In particular, it is important to give staff the opportunity to put new information into practice quickly, to reinforce and personalize learning through coaching, and to make use of technology to improve all aspects of your training program.
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specializes in providing exceptional sales coaching and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and service training.