All companies want to have vital sales training programs. As you’d probably expect, organizations with better methodology in sales and training achieve more in terms of quota than those who don’t.
However, In 2018, CSO found out that an astonishing 43.6% of organizations still don’t have a formal sales methodology in place, and only 18,7% considered themselves to be at the “best practice” level of sales methodology maturity. It’s high time companies implemented sales training that will increase revenue in a matter of several short months.
We strongly recommend starting this topic with our first two articles summing up what the subjects of your sales training should be and in what forms you can deliver them. This article focuses on creating a system of it all, starting with proper months-long onboarding and concluding with regular sales and other training cycles.
The preboarding process begins after you shake hands or sign a contract with the sales newbie. This period before they start working can easily take up to several months. You can let the soon-to-be colleagues do some homework and self-study to boost them up for their first days. That’s when their training starts.
Onboarding, known and taken care of usually better than preboarding, is the process of integrating a new employee into your sales team and company.
Sales preboarding and onboarding require a lot of planning, especially if you plan to include your sales team with their “I am so busy” schedules. Yes, you don’t have to do the entire onboarding training by yourself. Have your whole team deliver the individual sales training.
Give the newbie access to all materials so they can always get back to it. For all activities, set clear expectations so that they can be later measured and evaluated.
Who buys from you and why
Size of your market, where your opportunities are, and who your customers are Each sales representative needs to understand the customers’ world to be able to find the right fit in your solution.
What pain does the solution solve, and how
features, advantages, and benefits of your solution
direct and indirect competition, your differentiation to them, your USPs Each sales representative needs to know their product and how it compares to the competition.
They’ll benefit greatly from having answers to technical questions, and being able to differentiate from the competition.
Not knowing these two, in the potential customer’s eyes, the sales representatives will look highly unprofessional and lose their relevance.
Give them the means to hit the quota
other soft skills (empathy, personality type identification, self-presentation, etc.)
Most salespeople educated themselves, meaning they received no formal education. They don’t follow any sales methodology in qualification.
It’s necessary to give them your know-how, approach to market, and terminology.
TECH & SYSTEMS
To be effective at the job
sales technologies and tools, sales process, CRM, etc.
Quite often, the tech stack means having just a CRM in a company. But there are many other tools that can help the sales representatives monitor customers and competition, automate Linkedin, etc.
Being effective with tools means more time for clients.
Btw, being effective in CRM is also a big topic.
You should touch all these core sales competencies in the first 3 months (or, let’s say, during your onboarding, should it be shorter or longer).
Divide the onboarding process into milestones: 1st Day, 1st month, 2nd month, and 3rd month in terms of what should be accomplished.
While more experienced Account Executives will probably have some foundation in sales, the juniors may need more training.
Anyway, don’t take any representative’s words for their know-how and make them go through each training to see how advanced in sales they actually are.
We introduce the new sales representative to their buddy, the leader, and other team members they need to know as they’ll be training them later. Then we jump straight into the onboarding/sales training plan - getting to know the company, its vision, self-study and presentation preparation, tools introduction, etc.:
By the end of the day, the sales representative should know what we do, why we do it and for whom, and have a rough overview of the tools we use.
In the first month, the newbies learn high-level information about the company, product, and services. They should already have fundamental knowledge in the 4 core areas.
Don’t make the first month just theory; let them apply all they learned doing real work as soon as possible.
Cold Calling and Cold Scripts - We teach them the right call structure and how to create call scripts regardless of types of calls (inbound and outbound, followup, etc.)
Cold Emailing and Email Templates - We focus on their email structures, the proper word and sentence choice, pitch, how to show benefits, and how to pick the subject, etc., to create killer emails.
Linkedin Setup and Social Selling - Linkedin is an integral part of a modern salesperson. We pay close attention to Linkedin functionalities, why and how to edit tune your profile, and mostly, how to get the most of the SalesNavigator premium plan.
They’re the core of every business developer. These are immediately followed by the mockups and practical parts; creating templates and emailing clients, making a call script and calling clients, building a network, and posting the first post on LinkedIn.
In the following weeks, we need to stay flexible - if we see that a person is struggling with a specific area, we add extra training sessions or roleplays.
Product Case Study - The newbies must see how we help the clients, so we introduce as many uses use cases and real case studies as possible.
Demo - We teach the sales representatives to present relevant features while linking them to benefits that solve the potential customer’s need.
Competition - Only by knowing the competition, they’ll be able to differentiate your company and pitch the unique selling points.
Sales Methodology - Having a united sales methodology and terminology is crucial for scaling your sales department. There has to be one united definition of what is an opportunity or a sales-qualified lead.
The methodology gives your team a framework on how to act during the sales process.
We use proactive selling as a methodology and BANT as a qualification framework.
Meeting Structure - From rapport to closing, each meeting has an ideal structure. We go through each step and where to collect BANT.
Need Discovery - Each stakeholder comes to a meeting with a personal need. We teach the sales representatives how to discover and work with it.
Sales Process - To make sure the sales representatives are on the right track in closing deals, we have a united mile-stone-based sales process that guides them through the process of selling.
The onboarding process doesn’t take up as much time as in the first month. As the developer’s sales deals progress, the training progresses, too.
In the second month, they will most likely talk to many people about the solution, so we need to train them on:
FAB analysis (Features Advantages Benefits): We teach sales representatives to project features of our solution via advantages and benefits the clients can get.
Story Telling - There’s nothing more compelling than explaining the benefits or positive outcomes via real stories or use cases.
By week 6, there’s a lot of new information for the sales representative to absorb, so we slow down and deliver further training bi-weekly. We focus more on practicing and role-playing.
Objections Handling - Rarely, there’s a business deal closed without objections prolonging it. We teach the sales representatives how to anticipate and handle objections, such as needing more time to decide or the product being too expensive.
By the time of finishing the 3rd month, the sales representatives should be able to their job in the whole specter.
The last month of onboarding is an excellent opportunity to reflect on what went well and what didn’t and add any pieces of training they should need to repeat.
This is also the time for you to decide whether to keep this person on board - are they on their way to fulfill your and their goals? Are they coachable?
If you stay aimlessly wondering whether this person is the right fit for your sales team, the answer is most probably no. If they can’t absorb crucial information, it’s better to let them go.
To keep things simple, we add just two complex training to the onboarding process:
“Bob and Mary” (decision maker and user-buyer) perspective - There are always more people involved on the customers’ side in a B2B business. We teach the newbies how to sell to the C-Suite decision-makers and to user-buyers, too, as they each have their own priorities and needs that need to be worked through.
Rapport building training - The beginning of any meeting needs to have a smooth and natural opening. We strive not to talk about the weather, so we show our sales representatives where and how they can get interesting information to talk about before they jump to business. By doing rapport, they can then easily read and match the other side’s energy.
TIP: Set regular 1:1 meetings for you (the leader) and each sales representative. It’s not just the onboarding thing, where it gives you the space to check up on the newbies’ progress and coach, but they’re to be kept in your calendar infinitely; even experienced salespeople need to pick up your brain.
Make sure you have an ongoing training system to make sure you’re moving your sales representatives forward. Internal career advancement is a great motivator when it comes to training.
Let’s say that, to move from business developer to account executive, there are specific milestones to hit (like flawless sales or training delivery, hitting quota a few quarters in a row, etc.) This will prepare them for the new step.
You should give the sales team all possible means to help them progress - education budgets, additional training, opportunities to practice, tools, etc.
On top of individual focus, create training cycles for everyone in the company. They can be on any topic coming in handy to everyone, like training on:
personality type identification
and many more!
Schedule one topic every 3 to 6 months, and have the trainer deliver it in chunks so that each of these time frames goes on in the spirit of a particular topic. Some topics may be too new or too complex for your organization to deliver, so invite external coaches.
In our case, the sales team can deliver all the training in onboarding and most training cycles. However, external coaches bring fresh energy, experience, perspective and free you from the training preparations and delivery. Though inviting external coaches in-house can cost a pretty penny, do the math and see whether you (or anyone else who could be delivering the training instead) could invest your energy more wisely.
If your sales team members excel in specific topics, make them their ambassadors. Over time, they become specialists on the subject and follow trends around it. Ensure they’re the ones delivering this know-how to newbies and also the team. Peer-to-peer sales coaching is very effective as the trainees benefit from seeing how more experienced sales team members authentically do things.
Sales training is obviously a lot of work, especially if you’re designing them for individuals’ needs. But remember to get help from your top performers so that the weight doesn’t entirely fall on your shoulders.
Still, make sure you (or a designated sales buddy) coach the newbies to speed up their learning curve. By having the team deliver various types of training, you support the coaching culture in the company overall.
If you’re serious about setting a training system in your company to improve your sales, don’t let the complexity discourage you. Once set, the training will be repeated afterward, and thus, it will get easier to deliver.
Last but not least, a sensitive topic that can never be avoided. When is it reasonable to let a salesperson go and how to approach this?READ NOW