Shawn Peterson, Quantum Business Solutions CEO
Professional athletes train hard to perfect their craft, secure their spot on the roster and elevate their game. Many of them also use goal setting and mental training techniques. They train for muscle memory and reflex. They train for the unexpected. They purposely put themselves in uncomfortable situations. Even with natural talent and ability, the good do not become great without dedicated, focused and repetitive training.
We expect this level of commitment from professional athletes, so why don’t we expect this same level of commitment from other professions? Is your sales team truly comprised of sales professionals ready to play in the big league or do they need to be sent back to the minors to hone their craft?
A dynamic and effective sales training program requires a knowledgeable and engaging coach who can motivate the team, has done detailed preparation, and who provides appropriate tools and resources to maximize results. A professional sports team is never sent out on the field without a game plan. The coaching staff has provided the team with a playbook, made sure the team is properly conditioned, repetitively practiced each play, researched their opponents and planned their strategy based on the strengths and weaknesses of their own players as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the competition.
Your sales team deserves and requires the same level of preparation to achieve and exceed expectations. Have you provided them with a playbook including scripts and meaningful sales collateral? Have they role played repeatedly to the point where responses to questions or objections are managed with confidence in an engaging and informative manner? Do they know how to rank and prioritize leads? Do they understand what information to research and gather prior to meeting with a prospect or customer? Do they know the right questions to ask to identify customer objectives and areas of opportunity?
At a minimum, your sales training program should include the following components:
- Clearly documented expectations
- Mutual commitment between you and your team to achieve results
- Goal setting
- Product training
- Training on sales tools, including CRM best practices
- Scripts for calls, emails, and social media outreach and follow-up
- How to build rapport with and ask the right questions to identify customer needs
- Skill development for prospecting, follow-up, nurturing and closing the deal
Get your sales team in shape. Position your team to play among the elite and achieve greatness. Here are six reasons to require and implement a training program for your sales team:
- Goals & Mindset: Sales training that incorporates requirements to develop and define personal and professional goals provides motivation and guidance for individual team members. It reminds individuals why they are doing what they are doing, where they are going,and to what they have committed. Writing down these goals daily keeps goals present and top of mind. Sharing these goals with other team members on a regular basis establishes accountability beyond oneself. Goal setting done right enables individuals and teams to achieve their goals.
- Sales Team Alignment & Consistency: A team that trains together is unified, represents your products and your organization with a consistent and well-defined message and shares best practices. This results in a team that understands the importance of prioritization for sales activities that generate results and a clear plan for how to execute on those activities. Well aligned teams have a consistent approach for tackling prospecting, follow-up and closing
- Confidence & Recall: Repetition and training builds confidence. Well trained sales teams have practiced, trained and roleplayed together for every scenario. They know what to say and when to say it. They know what questions need to be asked to uncover customer pain points. They know how to respond, even when they don’t have the answer. They are equipped to overcome objections. They are prepared to ask for and close the deal.
- Safe Zone: Training provides a safe zone to experiment, try out new talk tracks and approaches and even to fall flat on your face. Would you rather your sales team has an awkward role play session or a bad interaction with a live prospect or customer? This is when and where you challenge comfort zones and create the most difficult customer interaction scenarios. This is how you build stamina and awareness within your sales team.
- Evaluating Skill Sets: Training lays the groundwork for a level playing field. If all team members are provided with the same training, it is easier to identify who possesses which skill sets, expose individual strengths and weaknesses and determine whether individual team members have the potential to become sales superstars, successful sales professionals or won’t ever be able make the cut.
- Retention: Sales training can improve employee retention. Employees want to work for companies that invest in and value them. Companies that provide quality sales training send a message that they are willing to develop their employees and help them to grow.