Sales Training Techniques: Build an Unstoppable Sales Team
With a high-performing sales team, the sky is the limit for your company’s growth potential.
A well-oiled sales machine lets you focus on serving your clients while the clients roll in like clockwork.
This article will cover sales training techniques and how to build an effective sales team training program, no matter your budget.
What Are the Five Methods of Sales Training?
There are five overall methods for training a sales team, and we’ll look at each below.
1. Use a Pre-Made Training for Sales Team
In-person or online sales courses are the first go-to resources for many business owners looking to build their sales team's skills. Programs like Action Selling, SPIN Selling, Sandler Training, and RAIN Selling: Foundations of Consultative Selling are some of the classics.
There are various formats, from pre-recorded video courses to webinars, interactive formats, and one-on-one mentorship from experts. In addition, you can choose programs with quizzes and check-ins along the way to measure your team's progress through the training.
2. Hire Outside Consultants
A sales consultant will save you time on "reinventing the wheel" and bring their years of experience to your challenges. They'll bring an outside perspective, zero in on your team's weaknesses, and train them for success.
Additionally, because a sales consultant works with many different companies, they'll be able to see where your company fits in the market's bigger picture. These insights will generate valuable ideas to improve your sales organization and even your sales leaders.
3. In-Person Sales Team Training
In-person seminars are a great way to bring the team together, build camaraderie, and take a productive break from work.
When searching for a sales workshop provider, get answers to the following questions:
Will the provider customize their training to your objectives for your sales team?
What specific skills will the team have acquired by the end of the workshop?
Is the training virtual, at your office, or another location?
Is the focus relevant to the challenges your team is dealing with right now? Are the training topics appropriate for your sales team?
How long is the training, and will it fit your company’s schedule?
Is the training relevant to your industry? Have they trained companies in your industry before?
Is the price worth it? In other words, will the return on investment be higher than the seminar’s cost?
There are a lot of slickly marketed — and overpriced — sales seminars out there, so if a provider isn’t willing or able to answer these questions, look elsewhere.
4. Attend Conferences for Sales Technique Training
Attending a sales conference is an excellent way for your team to keep up to date on the latest trends and strategies in sales. Look for a program that offers a mix of roundtable discussions, keynotes, and workshops.
5. Create Custom Resources on Your Company’s Sales Training Techniques
As your team grows, you need a go-to place for them to get answers to their sales questions. That way, they can self-serve their training, and you won't lose sales because a rep is waiting for a meeting with you or a sales manager to get the answers they need. This doesn't mean you should be unavailable, but repeat questions are more efficient to answer with an internal company wiki or training documents.
What Are the Best Sales Techniques?
There’s a misconception that sales involve trickery, like a magic show that attempts to “pull one over” on the audience. Or that sales is a robotic equation with repeated scripts: “Input X here, Y comes out there.”
In truth, the right attitude, honest intentions, and empathy will get you farther than tricks and hacks. In that vein, here are some techniques to practice:
Identify and focus on the prospect’s pain points. Your offer must be a "need to have.” Otherwise, there's no reason for the prospect to buy NOW instead of later (or never). Train your salespeople to keep digging until they find the real pain point, e.g., fear the prospect's company will go under if they don't fix this problem now.
Handle objections immediately. The most effective way to handle objections is proactively addressing them before the prospect even raises them. So have your sales reps memorize every common objection and the ideal response (in their own words).
Show why the prospect needs your offer NOW. Help your salespeople learn how to show their prospects why things need to change now — and the negative impacts of keeping things the same.
Mirroring. Your salespeople need to show they understand the prospect’s unique pain points. Train them to mirror what the prospect says by listening closely and replying with an empathetic summary, using as many of the prospect’s words as possible. Maya Angelou’s adage is relevant here: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
How Do You Train Sales Skills?
In essence, you train sales skills by focusing on these areas:
Teach listening skills. Despite the word "sales" conjuring up an image of a fast-talking salesman, sales is more about listening than talking. But if your reps only listen long enough to jump in with a script, the prospect won't feel heard. Train your reps on close listening and getting comfortable with silence that gives leads space to talk.
Teach empathy. Active listening builds empathy. To become A-players, your sales reps need to understand your prospects on a deep level: their pain points, frustrations, and hopes.
Provide mentorship. All the books and courses in the world can’t replace real, live mentorship. Whether that’s a person, group program, or a committed team like The Sales Connection, make sure to get your salespeople mentorship.
Train on scripts. While you don't want salespeople to robotically repeat scripts word-for-word, you do want to drill them on overcoming objections until it becomes muscle memory. Then they can make it their own so it sounds natural.
Role-play. This is a vital part of any sales training. Do it during onboarding training and on an ongoing basis so your team can articulate your USP in their sleep.
How Do You Structure a Sales Training Schedule?
To structure the best sales training programs, ensure that the daily schedule provides a mix of information intake, shadowing, role-play, and feedback for trainees. Here’s what a schedule could look like:
9-10:30 a.m.: Watch training videos.
10:30-noon: Shadow an experienced sales rep who is making follow-up calls.
Noon-1 p.m.: Lunch
1-2:30 p.m.: Shadow someone making cold calls.
2:30-4 p.m.: Shadow someone who’s doing email and text follow-ups and updating a CRM.
4-5 p.m.: Role play followed by constructive feedback. Make sure to include objection handling for the top 10 most common objections your sales reps receive.
Seven Questions to Assess Your Sales Team's Strengths and Weaknesses
Run through the seven questions below to assess the areas your team needs to work on:
Can your sales team articulate your company's unique selling proposition (USP)? It's often surprisingly difficult for companies to explain how they're different from their competitors — and why that means clients should buy from them. Your sales team should be able to do this in their sleep.
Can sales reps clearly define your sales process? Your sales team should be able to explain the sales process from A to Z. If you get wildly different answers from different salespeople or there are gaps in their knowledge, it's time to sit down and write out the process. Then ensure everyone understands it.
How much do your sales cost? Are your sales costing you so much that they're barely leaving any profits? Where can you cut down sales costs?
What are your key performance indicators (KPIs) for sales? Ensure you have specific, measurable KPIs and that you're measuring them on a dashboard your salespeople can access.
Where are the holes in your sales funnel, and what are you doing to close them? Sales reps should know where to go to prospect for new leads. They should also have a systematic process for staying on top of their follow-ups — 8% of sales reps close 80% of sales due to the number of times they follow up.
Are the sales incentives producing ideal behaviors? Are the financial incentives for your sales team high enough? Is there anything in the structure that encourages sales reps to cut corners? Focus on these areas.
Do your reps fold when they getsales objections? Your sales team should be able to answer objections confidently and without hesitation.
Choose an Appropriate Format for Your Sales Training Program
If you're a startup with a small sales team, pre-made sales courses combined with short, in-house roleplaying practice sessions may be ideal. As you grow, paying an outside consultant to come in or sending your team to conferences will make more sense.
Standardize Your Sales Team Training Process
As part of onboarding, every sales rep should go through training on your company's sales process. Additionally, you should have regular refreshers and updates when you make changes.
Your sales process should clearly describe your sales team's steps, tactics, and strategies to find, qualify, nurture, follow up with, and close leads.
Standardizing your sales process will ensure that every salesperson follows the process correctly and doesn’t stray off course. Lack of standardization can lead to problems down the line, like sales reps overpromising what your company can deliver and landing you angry clients.
Ensure the training for your sales teams includes the following:
Each stage in your sales funnel.
Detailed buyer profiles.
What activities should sales professionals be doing to move people from one stage of the funnel to the next?
How to generate leads.
How to qualify leads, so your reps aren't wasting time on leads who don't fit your buyer profiles.
Methods to schedule meetings with prospects.
How to empathize with prospects and identify their pain points.
Followup tracking: reps should have a defined method for tracking their follow-ups.
How to make an offer and send a proposal.
How to close the deal: does the rep handle the contract signing, or do they hand that off to someone else at your company?
What does the salesperson do to ensure the new client isn't left hanging but quickly moves to onboarding and delivery of services?
What upselling and cross-selling opportunities do the reps have?
Invest in Professional Development
Failing to provide ongoing sales training is one of the top mistakes companies make, resulting in lower performance and higher turnover as time goes on. Therefore, it's critical to provide continuous training so your team can keep honing their skills and become expert salespeople.
You don't necessarily have to spend tens of thousands of dollars if you're in the beginning stages of building your sales organization. You can take advantage of free sales training like The Art of Sales by Northwestern or HubSpot Academy.
If you have a budget, consider some of the following options:
Professional training online or in person
Corporate training programs
Try to find a way to provide training in different formats, e.g., text, audio, and video.
Customize Sales Training for Each Sales Role
Make sure to teach your salespeople strategies that relate directly to their roles. Here are some examples:
Cold callers need training on getting past gatekeepers so they can speak to decision-makers.
High-ticket closers require extensive training in overcoming objections.
Anyone doing video sales meetings needs training on looking confident and professional on video.
Salespeople who nurture leads via SMS and email need copywriting training.
Account/sales managers require training on effective upselling and cross-selling.
To create effective, role-specific training, ensure every role has clearly defined responsibilities. For every responsibility, develop a piece of training that addresses it.
Building Your Own Sales Training
The ideal sales training combines the time-tested strategies that work with the specific tactics YOUR business needs to close more sales.
That’s what The Sales Connection specializes in. Our Seven-Figure Closer Sales Training System streamlines your sales team’s training, removes outdated, pushy tactics, and levels up the performance of all your team members.
Learn more about how we train the world's top 1.3% of sales talent.
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