As SaaS organizations enter a high-growth phase, the leadership team often finds itself in the midst of a fast and furious sales rep hiring binge.
As a result, most companies hastily bring talented salespeople onboard and throw them into the deep end as quickly as possible. It is a tempting strategy, notably because you want to service your customers and grow your business at the same time, and you certainly need people to achieve this.
But, this leads to haphazard sales management. Firms in this position tend to conduct sales training on an as-needed basis; worse, sales reps are left to flounder on their own. In this instance, you miss out an important opportunity to maximize the potential of your sales department.
If a top priority in your organization is to hire the best salespeople, you should plan to create and execute an effective training program that will give your team the tools they need to succeed.
It is one of the most important steps to empower your sales reps to exceed your customers’ expectations. Strategic training will also help you grow and scale in a more sustainable fashion. Below are six ways to improve your sales training initiatives.
1. Take an Active Role in Forming Your Training Program
Many leaders understand that finding talented sales professionals who are a good fit for the culture of their company is too important a task to delegate. However, many of them are all too ready to completely hand over the creation of the sales training process to someone else, or to copy a template from another successful organization. Collaboration is always beneficial, but every leader has a unique vision for what they want their salespeople to convey to the customer. Furthermore, it is imperative for them to be an integral part of the training process in order to have that vision realized.
2. Formalize the Process for Consistent Results
An ideal training program allows you to achieve predictable, repeatable results, and this kind of consistency is not possible if your training methods consist of sales managers trying to deliver the same touchpoints that they received as new hires from memory.
This is often how fundamental mistakes get overlooked in the core of your sales strategy, and it prevents your employees from being able to deliver their best effort. Document every stage of the sales training process, including your definable goals and methodology for achieving them, in such a way that any employee could study the training manual and properly execute the program.
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3. Teach Your Team to Have Respect for Data and Metrics
If your goal is to build a sales program that is positioned for long-term success, then it has to be based on data. You cannot reliably improve what you have not measured, and the time to prepare your sales team for a rigorous respect for the collection and analysis of data is during their onboarding training. One quality that you will find in the organizations that successfully track sales metrics is transparency, so always be upfront with your sales team about not just what is being tracked, but also why. This will help your reps understand how using this data can help them exceed their goals.
4. Encourage Creativity and Role Play
Companies in the U.S. spend approximately $15 billion per year on sales training initiatives, and yet so many of them are designed to hinder critical thinking and force sales reps into a product-focused strategy box. A fundamental part of your sales training program needs to emphasize skills such as creativity, listening and innovative problem solving, so that your salespeople will be well-prepared to actually listen and respond to their customers’ needs. One strategy for this is to make role-playing exercises the core of the program, rather than lectures or demonstrations. It allows sales reps to get in the mind of the customer and learn how to communicate honestly and empathetically.
5. Provide Hands-on Feedback Early and Often
Frequent, one-on-one feedback and coaching sessions are essential to set your sales team up for success. The rubric of the training program should hold your reps accountable for their goals, but it is also crucial to use these coaching sessions to provide positive reinforcement and work individually with them to determine what changes they need to make in their approach. Also, take the time to meet with them individually to discuss their progress. This demonstrates that you have a genuine investment in their success.
6. Communicate That Sales Training Is a Continuous Process
After your sales trainees graduate from your initial training program, communicate the fact that their sales training is never truly complete. Data from Aberdeen Research reveals, "Sales teams implementing post-training reinforcement see 20 percent more reps achieving quota." Therefore, you should encourage your salespeople to regularly utilize the things they learned during training and take advantage of future opportunities for professional development.