Sales executives are often considered smooth talkers who are quick to respond to questions even before they are asked. However, like any other skill, even the most gifted salespersons need regular training. Here are some tips to enhance employee training:
1.) Use Technology To Deliver Training:
Your sales team must completely know the product you are selling. If their product knowledge is limited, they will be unable to close sales. A deep understanding of your products enhances their confidence when they are selling to customers, particularly when they are new to the business. You need to invest in training to deepen their understanding of product details well. Then they will be able to pick specific issues that clients have and position your product as a perfect solution to those issues.
While the face-to-face training approach is effective in getting your team to this point, it is time consuming and you need your team to start selling soon. At the same time, frequent client calls and travels make it impossible to have your entire sales team in a training room for long. This is why you need a proper training software tool for employees. With an e-learning platform, your sales team will learn about your product on the go via online modules and videos. Using education technology, you can track their progress and ensure each person has gone through the learning material.
2.) Adopt Microlearning Approach:
A report by the Sales Performance International indicates that employees lose about 50% of the content they receive through classroom-based, instructor-led training in just five weeks. Within three months, training participants would have forgotten 84% of the content. The paradox is that 80% of companies still use this classroom training approach as per CSO Insights. Managers who want to develop highly effective sales teams must note salespersons, like anyone else, cannot retain huge amounts of information at any given time. This means investing in training events that run for several days, which would be a waste of resources.
Instead of investing in full-blown instructor-led trainings, you could consider adopting the microlearning concept. This emerging learning approach enables you to train your sales teams using spaced-out bite-sized formats. It enables them to engage in training on specific content and gives them appropriate product knowledge when they need it. What makes microlearning a win-win for companies and employees is the fact that it exposes sales teams to knowledge more times over a short period of time, as compared to traditional training approaches. Research shows that employees who are exposed to ideas at least three times in 30 days have a retention rate of up to 90% as compared to those who get a single exposure over the same period. So, instead of overtraining your sales teams, consider sending email reminders or encouragements through smartphones.
3.) Reward Achievements:
Sales teams are more motivated by goals as compared to employees in other departments. This means result-based trainings suit them, but the trick is to put specific targets to make their success meaningful. Generalizing success of the entire team will not increase the team’s productivity nor retain them in the company.
As such, the most effective training technique for sales teams is to let them know they did a great job. After that, take a step further and demonstrate the extent to which they do this by using percentages. You could also appreciate their performance by highlighting difficult calls that they managed to pull off. This tip worked for Best Buy’s Path to Excellence Initiative when the company’s management awarded badges to its sales teams. Using the badges, the company developed four different recognition levels, which resulted in Best Buy’s outlets with high levels of recognition performing much better than those with less recognition.
4.) Use Real-World Training:
Development of sales talent happens in the field. However, it is the detailed feedback that salespeople receive after spending time in the field that resonates with their experience. While providing feedback, supervisors can highlight the need to listen to clients for understanding their needs. Managers are expected to put effort in identifying the gaps that each sales person has for providing specific and timely feedback. For instance, they need to invest time in listening to sales calls that sales teams make and analyzing individual performance. By highlighting real situations, managers can help sales teams shift focus from pushing products on to clients to understanding their needs more.
It is important that managers provide feedback to individuals in their sales teams within hours of experience when things are still fresh in the mind so they can reflect on it. Walgreens is one of the companies that successfully used real-world training elements to enhance employee training. Its field training program, ‘Well Experience’ provides hands-on experience to employees within a simulated environment. The company used games to familiarize employee teams with job shadowing and store layouts. At the end of the training, among the 13,000 employees who went through the training program, confidence levels increased from 42% to 90%.
5.) Celebrate Successes:
Employee attitude determines the level of customer satisfaction in any business. Data from the National Business Research Institute shows that employee attitude at workplace affects between 40-80% of customer satisfaction. One way of improving employee attitude, particularly sales people, is sharing successes. By celebrating successes mutually, your instill a sense of community in the team and encourage them to work harder. When it comes to celebrating success, companies can get as creative as possible. For instance, some companies choose to use song and dance to celebrate the achievement of goals, others give trophies for individual excellence.
Most people see salespersons as people who are capable of selling anything to customers, even products they will never use. But this is often found to be false since the best salespersons are not necessarily slick talkers. On the contrary, they are effective listeners. Rather than ignoring clients, salespersons who are highly effective listen to them carefully to understand their needs. The best way to get your sales team to do this effectively is by training them.