How to Train Salespeople

We recently did a consultation with a salesperson named Steve. On our call, he was feeling frustrated. He had had a recent sales opportunity that fizzled out and couldn’t figure out why. After all, he had done his research and prepared a great pitch. As soon as the call started he jumped straight to his solution so as to not waste the prospect’s time… and he lost the sale.

Even though his plan was right on the money for the industry and situation the customer was in, he lost the sale. He had served everything up on a silver platter. So what went wrong?

Here’s what went wrong: he didn’t take the time to get buy-in from the customer. He was so focused on his solution that he didn’t take the time to listen to the customer and have them verbalize their own needs. In the end, instead of making a connection, he lost another sale.

Steve didn’t know any better because he hadn’t yet realized the benefits of proper sales training. You know — the sort of sales training that actually sticks. The kind that sells a customer on the salesperson themselves before they say a single word about their product or service. 

How does that kind of sales training work? It starts with the right approach.

How to Train Salespeople in a Way That Actually Sticks

We use a five phase training approach that helps teams develop the skills and strategies essential for triumph in today’s competitive market. Each step reinforces and builds upon the step before to create a program that not only teaches essential skills, but makes sure your team remembers them long-term. 

  1. Preparation
  2. Workshop 
  3. Reinforcement
  4. Assessment
  5. Certification

Interested in learning more about how these steps work together to create a sales training program that sticks? Read more about the Action Selling® approach.

How do you make sure your salespeople see the benefits of sales training?

If your sales team hasn’t been hitting goals, that means they’ve got something to learn. Telling them that directly won’t always work, however. 

Just like Steve struggled to sell his perfect solution because he didn’t get the customer’s buy-in first, you won’t be able to realize the full benefits of sales training until your team believes it’ll really help. 

Here’s what you have to remember in order to get buy-in from your team:

  • Trust is earned. Just because you pay your team’s salary doesn’t automatically mean that they’re bought in on every solution you provide. Just like you trust your team to explain the benefits of your product or service in a way that emotionally connects with the prospect, you should take the time to communicate the benefits of sales training to your team.
  • Learn what it’s like in their world. When was the last time you talked to your team about what they were struggling with? Have you talked to them about where sales are breaking down? Do you know if they’re frustrated with any aspect of the sales cycle or process? What can you ask them to help you understand why they’re not gaining commitments from the customer? What skills are they missing? Before you can offer a solution, you need to really know the problem.
  • Better support managers so they can better support their teams. Just like the sales team itself, we need to spend time asking great questions of their managers in order to discover what they need in order to do their jobs better.

How do I find a sales training solution my team will accept?

There’s a logical parallel between how you work with customers and how you present the idea of sales training to your own sales team. Don’t expect them to throw their arms wide at the solution you’ve decided to bestow… unless it’s easy to describe and communicate the benefits of that solution. 

Why not take our free selling skills assessment to see where your team’s current strengths and weaknesses are? The more aware you are of your team’s gaps — including the Steves — the easier it will be to use training to fill them.