Education does not end by getting your university degree. Education is a life-long process and continuous sales training leads to growth - not just of knowledge, but also results.
We launched our Sales Academy Online precisely with the goal of effectively helping you grow your business through a sales training program consisting of a series of videos that explain some of the key winning techniques in business. Why do we believe that constant sales education is the key to boosting your sales?
Because the world is evolving from one minute to another and it's picking up the pace even as you are reading these lines. Whatever was trending a couple of months ago might be outdated today - be it fashion, Netflix series, or sales.
If you desire your sales to skyrocket, you need to constantly keep up with the pace of current trends, know what triggers them and how they behave.
So, how exactly does business work nowadays?
Today's consumers can search the Internet for whatever they want before they even encounter the seller. The role of modern sales representatives is not to educate the customer about the qualities of a product; the customer has already performed their research from every possible source.
The sales representative acts as a mere unifier of the product with the specific needs and goals of the consumer.
Prospecting is the new selling
It used to be pretty straightforward; a sales representative would go and contact as many prospects as he could. Before the Internet era, the sales representative was one of the only sources of information about the product that the customer had, so there was a lot of space for persuading and even manipulating.
Nowadays, sales representative run a well-planned qualification process that can consist of as many as 20-30 steps, beginning by attracting their target group to a website, ending by a meeting with only those educated prospects who have passed through the entire qualification process, and are therefore likely to become customers. This technique works with a mostly automated process of qualification and requires much less time input from the sales representative.
The above-mentioned prospecting is the main reason why salesmen should never sleep on keeping up-to-date with trends on the sales training scene.
Which areas to mainly focus on in sales education?
Perhaps you feel that your current sales team has room for improvement - not generating the desired conversion rate, lacking proper communication skills or the initiative to learn new techniques? Be sure to break down the effectiveness of your team to numbers. Who is your most effective sales representative? How many meetings have taken place in the past month, three months, year? Which sales representative held most of those meetings? What is their conversion rate?
Once you gain access to these statistics, they'll help you easily nail down what needs to be worked on and what education tools will be the most suitable.
Or are you building a brand new sales team? By taking sales education seriously, you can spare both time and financial resources.
Here are 5 main areas to keep your eyes on when planning your sales training schedule:
1. Tools and system
Before anything else, you should pick the right sales tools that will suit specifically your team and field of influence. A stack of the right tools will help you automate a huge part of your sales process, as well as make it more effective.
No sales organization is going to work without proper knowledge of these tools.
The sales tech is becoming a huge topic - which ones and how to use them?
First, there is a roster of basic minimum tech tools that are a must-have for every company. This includes:
- CRM (Close, Pipedrive, Hubspot, Salesforce, Dynamics, etc),
- Database - either you have one or you need to create it (Hunter, Lusha, LN, Dataminer),
- Prospecting (LN Sales Navigator),
- Call / conferencing tools (MS Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, etc.)
Then, there are advanced tools that you can use to further delve into how your team functions and how could it progress:
- Automation tools (Octopus, LinkedHelper 2.0, Dux-Soup),
- Sales Engagement Platform (Outreach, Salesloft),
- Visualization / Reporting / Dashboarding tools (Power BI, Tableau)
2. Getting the know-how
To build a proper sales culture, your sales must be based on numbers. Once you have the numbers and are aware of the performance, you know which part of your process is lacking. For example, you might have a sales person who is always late to meetings and therefore, has worse results than the rest of your team. Somebody else might have a low conversion rate from meetings to actual sales. Such a person is probably not conveying the value proposition correctly, or doesn't perform an effective needs discovery on the side of the prospect?
Knowing the exact number of failures vs. successes in different phases of your sales process will clearly tell you where and what to focus the education on.
After you identify your weak spots, getting the know-how itself is the easier part. There is an overwhelmingly large number of materials on cold contacting, sales methodology, how to make calls the right way... Make sure you deliver to each member of your team the materials that will broaden their knowledge in the areas they're lacking in.
In order to actually make a change in your team rather than slip back into your old routine, you have to start practicing the newly acquired know-how so that once you come in contact with a prospect, you'll be ready.
After finding and carefully studying the acquired know-how boosting materials, the biggest challenge will be to put the new sales skills into practice and prevent your team from going back to their old routine. How to achieve this, though?
3. Roleplay and practice, practice, practice
Oftentimes, workshops and conferences leave your team with no results.
Why? Because team leaders have their people spend several hours in one room, listening to a series of theoretical lessons and perhaps some case studies, but then, there is no follow-up from either side. Explaining new techniques in theory alone will never inflict the desired progress in a sales team.
Therefore, after going through the theory, make sure your team practices everything that they've learned. That way, they will feel more confident and motivated to apply the new sales skills as they communicate with customers.
If your sales representatives have been used to specific techniques for years, it will take a lot of practicing and time to rewrite their habits, because people naturally tend to stay in their comfort zone, with their old habits and patterns.
The practicing phase will (and should) take more time than gaining theoretical knowledge.
Create time and space for your team to gather up and practice together and in the form of one-to-one meetings. Salespeople have their experience and know what works for each of them and what doesn't. Give them the freedom of sharing among the team their real sales insights.
Having regular practices, dry runs and experience sharing sessions among your team is the key to adopting the fresh knowledge as the new norm.
4. Mentoring and coaching
As you get back to the roots of what your team is lacking in, it is helpful to map and confront specific cases. Especially if you have experienced sales representatives on your team, they won't learn much from being confronted with general facts, such as listing what they should learn and where should they get the know-how. They've been to many training sessions and heard it all.
You need to assume a different, much more individual approach to sales coaching.
Have regular 1-on-1 sessions with each of your salespeople and address specific cases and challenges they've come up against.
Therefore, rather than explain how to get to the needs of a customer, pick a case this particular person has been working on and discuss with them where the problem was.
Why should this customer buy our product?
What should be the next step?
How to do it better when a similar situation comes up?
Through thoughtful questions, lead your sales representative to a clear realization of what to do next.
There is a number of modern sales methodologies that differ based on their approach to sales and the customer.
Considering your field or the type of your company, different methodologies might suit you. Pick one (or plan one specifically for your sales team) and stick to it.
Make sure that you gather information about it from different sources (blogs, podcasts, books, workshops, etc.), as this will help you view the matter from different angles and will help you create a holistic picture about the chosen sales methodology.
If you are interested in learning about specific sales methodologies, we have linked you a detailed article on the topic in the resources below.
Wrapping it up:
These were the 5 main points to focus on if you plan training your sales team, have an impeccable group of sales representatives with great communication and sales skills.
If you are unsure about where exactly to begin, what materials to prepare or how to set up and kick off your sales training correctly, we encourage you to visit our Sales Academy Online, which will happily be your guide at the beginning.
Would you like to delve deeper into either of the five main focal points of sales education or get additional information? Then be sure to use some of the following resources as a starting point: