Sales training courses are essential to help your sales people really become sales professionals.
You typically want to give sales training to:
- A new hire who has had little exposure to the sales environment
- An experienced sales professional whose numbers are slipping and you want to get them up where they belong
Sales training courses need to cover a lot of ground for the 21st Century marketplace. Most of this training can’t be covered in a day and needs some kind of micro-learning element to ensure all the learnings are covered. Essentially, there are a number of areas that sales training should cover:
- How to develop a positive selling attitude
- How to build a qualified pipeline
- How to prospect via e-mail, social media and on the phone
- How to conduct a professional 7-step sales call
1. Build rapport
2. Give a general benefit statement
3. Discovery process
4. Present your unique solution
5. Overcome and handle objections
6. Use a false close
7. Gain commitment
There are many variations of an actual sales call. But the 7 above are pretty standard and should be the cornerstone of every sales meeting.
- Proposal writing
- How to up-sell and cross sell
- How to maintain and grow your existing client base
- Key account management
- Goal setting
- Lead generation
- Lead scoring
- Lead nurturing
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Time management
- Territory management
- Sales forecasting
- Sales administration
- Listening skills
- Negotiating skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Body language
- Presentation skills
- Ratios management
- Email marketing
Sales Training Courses
Sales training courses are ubiquitous. Each course has its own spin on how to sell. But, in essence, they’re all pretty similar. The trick to all selling is to be able help solve customers’ problems. If you can do that, you’re well on your way to becoming a top sales person.
“To sell is to serve. If you serve well, you’ll sell well.” – Jacques de Villiers
There are a number of sales training courses and trainers in South Africa (SA) and internationally. Here are some that come to mind:
- Jill Konrath (International)
- Joe Girard (International). I don’t know if he is even alive still.
- Jeffrey Gitomer (International)
- Dale Carnegie Training (SA and international)
- SPIN Selling (SA and international)
- Ray Patterson (SA)
- Jacques de Villiers (SA)
- Sales Guru (SA)
- Mark Berger (SA)
- Oren Klaff (International)
I know that I’ve missed out a bunch of folks and courses. So, if you feel strongly about getting on this page, let me know.
Sales Training Books
I’m a big believer in reading sales books. There are thousands of sales books, I’m sure. Here are some that I’ve read and would readily recommend:
- Selling To Big Companies – Jill Konrath
- Agile Selling – Jill Konrath
- Snap Selling – Jill Konrath
- Little Red Book of Selling – Jeffrey Gitomer
- The Sales Bible – Jeffrey Gitomer
- Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing – Roger Dooley
- How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
- The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini
- Pre-Suasion – Robert Cialdini
- Pitch Anything – Oren Klaff
- To Sell Is Human – Daniel H. Pink
- A Whole New Mind – Daniel H. Pink
- Drive – Daniel H. Pink
Sales Training – Micro learning
Micro learning are short training sessions distributed by email to sales training delegate. They can comprise:
Micro learning is a great way to make sure that there is an uptake of knowledge and that it is retained.
The problem with traditional sales training and training in general, is that it is rapidly forgotten.
A one or two-day training course does not cut it. The expectation is that performance will increase substantially.
This is seldom the case. According to statistics adapted from The Forgetting Graph by Hermann Ebbinghaus:
- After month 1 – 40% of knowledge is forgotten
- After month 2 – 20% of knowledge is forgotten
- After month 3 – 10% of knowledge is forgotten
Have a look at The Forgetting graph (or curve) in terms of days.
So, unless there is a way that sales training can be reinforced, it really isn’t very effective.
By sending regular micro learning segments to reinforce the initial one or two-day training helps the delegates retain more of the information.
This will translate into a performance improvement.
We need to understand that training is not an event but a process. And, as much as we’d like to see our sales force magically produce results right after a sales training intervention, it is unlikely to happen.
Managers also need to ensure that micro learning is actually getting to their employees. So, there’s a lot of onus on managers to monitor and hold employees accountable to do the relevant training.
Turn sales meetings into learning sessions and not just ‘running the numbers’ sessions.
At every sale meeting get one of the sales team to present a topic that has been identified as an area that needs to be worked on.
In the sale environment it could be:
- Closing techniques
- Overcoming and handling objections
- Building rapport
- Listening skills
- Time management skills and the like
The ‘presenter’ would go and research the topic and then present it to the team.
After the presentation, there could be a 10 minute discussion on the topic and then the rest of the sales meeting can continue.
The next week another ‘presenter’ researches a topic and presents it at the next sales meeting.
In this way, one can get 50 or so training sessions in a year.
In terms of learning retain only:
- 10% of what we read
- 20% of what we hear
- 30% of what we see
- 50% of what we both see and hear
- 70% of what we discuss
- 80% of what we experience
- 95% of what we teach
So, it is clear that peer-to-peer training works on many levels:
- The ‘teacher’ learns because he/she teaches
- The ‘teacher’ becomes a better presenter because he/she has to present
- The other team members get valuable training
Sales training facilitation techniques
The days of the chalk and talk facilitator are fast coming to an end.
The trend is to get the delegates more involved in discussions and experiential learning.
A facilitator should be training 30% of the time and the remaining 70% should be allocated to group discussions, role plays and the like.
Below are facilitation tips from the Peer Training learner guide:
- Use the parking lot to collect issues and ideas you want to address later in the workshop or take up after the session
- Break into groups – why? This allows shy people to talk and it also saves time. Get the group to choose a chairperson, scribe and timekeeper
- Take time out to ponder
- Talk to your partner (pairs) – this can diffuse shyness and arguments
- If you don’t know the answer (as the facilitator), ask the group for ideas. Never pretend that you know when you don’t know
- Flick a pen to choose volunteers
- To test for understanding, get groups, pairs, individuals to summarise
- Let the participants take turns to write on the flip chart
- Don’t pick on one person. Gave an instruction and then allow time to prepare – be the timekeeper
- Give clear instructions with time limits. Set the alarm clock
- If people leave the room or are called out, continue the meeting. Don’t wait for them to return
- Be aware of the group activities. If they finish earlier, don’t wait for the time limit to expire
- When reading handouts, ask the group to underline 1 or 2 points that are meaningful. This ensures that the delegates actually read the handouts
- Use a pencil on the flip chart for prompt or crib notes
- Don’t talk to the flip chart; talk to the audience
- Summarise learning points, regularly
Sales training is important to teach your sales team vital selling skills. But it takes repetition, sales manager involvement, dedication and sheer hard work for it to work.