Sales Training – How Much and How Often?

Sales Training - How Much and How Often

The question is often asked by managers, “How much and how often should I do sales training?” This points to several dilemmas facing sales managers:

1. When they hold training for their team, their salespeople are not selling. Although the training should help them to be more productive, at least for the time that they are in class, the salespeople are not selling.

2. The level of training isn’t appropriate for everyone. If the activity is too essential, then experienced people will view it as a waste of their time. If the movement is too advanced, perhaps less experienced salespeople will tune out.

3. The training is viewed as an expense, and it might be challenging to measure the return on investment.

So, for sales managers who want to know how much and how often to conduct training, here are some valuable tips:

Before training, assess your team:

Most sales teams will reflect a mix of experience and talent among their salespeople. A good sales manager will determine their team for strengths and weaknesses. This assessment will include everyone – new people as well as old-timers. The type and frequency of sales training will, in large part, be determined by the outcome of the assessment. With a solid review, the sales manager can tailor their training program to meet the needs of their team as a whole and for individual salespeople.

Define the outcomes for the training:

Sales training can be oriented to the technical sales process, to advanced sales skills, or towards product knowledge. In some cases, the objective of training will be motivational; however, motivational training tends to have a limited short-term effect. Managers should use the outcomes of the assessments to conduct targeted training that will shore up the general weaknesses of the overall sales team. They should also conduct targeted training for that individual who needs specific skills or knowledge.

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Make sure everyone is trained on the basics:

The entire sales team needs to be great at the basics, which fall into three broad categories. First, the basics include the components of the sales process: prospecting, needs identification, feature-benefit solutions, and closing. The basics also have product knowledge on both your own products and the competition. Finally, the basics include those things that are unique to your company’s culture or to your industry. Just like a professional sports team has spring training or pre-season camp, sales managers need to hold basic training for everyone from time to time. Use your experienced salespeople to lead breakout sessions or reinforce the basic training. This will not only keep them sharp on the basics but also leverage their expertise and keep them engaged in the activity.

So the answer to the question, “how much and how often” is “it depends.” It depends on the experience and performance of the sales team. In some cases, a one or two-day workshop may be helpful even though it takes people out of production. Hopefully, by enhancing specific skills, the overall performance will be improved with corresponding increases in sales and revenue. In other cases, shorter, more frequent training sessions might be needed. This can often be incorporated into weekly or monthly sales meetings. With advances in technology, this type of training can even be done using webinars led by the sales managers or most experienced salespeople. In the end, the answer to the question is a judgment call made by the general sales manager or senior sales executive. Although there is always the tension between conducting training and taking people away from their daily sales activities, just remember that the best teams are also the best trained.

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