Many people think the traits of a good salesperson are fixed — either you have them or you don’t. Although there are salespeople who are naturally skilled in this role, some of the best sales professionals have diligently developed their skill set over time. Whether you’re the most charismatic person in the room or just doing your best to close each deal, sales training programs offer the ability to improve the way you cultivate leads, communicate with prospects and, ultimately, make sales.
Sales is about people — understanding their problems and providing solutions that improve their lives in some way. But how people interact is constantly changing, so even the most seasoned sales veterans should update their skills regularly. A sales training program is designed to improve your sales team members’ skills by teaching them new sales techniques, new software tools, novel approaches to selling, or a combination of those skills.
Sales training is as much about coordinating the efforts of a team as it is about coaching the individuals within it. Implementing a sales training plan can unite your team as it pursues your company’s mission and strategy.
“Aligning to a sales training program’s methodology and framework helps everyone within the sales function align to one North Star and a common gold standard,” said Silvia Li, founder and CEO of Intranovation. “Without a common definition of what ‘great,’ or even ‘good,’ looks like, deviations, and thus duplications, start to occur. As a result, this decreases the velocity and volume of deals won, which is what most sales professionals and leaders get most motivated by as well as measured by.”
How can you tell if a sales training program will help your sales team and the company as a whole? First, identify opportunities for improvement using these resources:
Once you’ve gathered some feedback, you can identify your sales team’s weakest areas. Then, you can seek out a sales training program designed specifically to improve your sales process by leveling up the areas where your team is lacking. Whether your team needs to improve people skills, close more deals, upsell more frequently or generate more leads, there’s a sales training program out there that can focus on these gaps.
If you have a software tool with advanced features, it can show you what customer interactions and deals look like. For example, the best CRM software can capture customer interactions via phone, web meetings and email, and deliver insights that will help you and your team close more deals.
The CRM software features your sales team uses may also benefit the marketing department. Making the most of your CRM tools and applying the data across departments can make your entire business more effective.
Once you’ve identified the areas you’d like your sales team to improve, you can begin evaluating sales training programs that fit the bill. Look for some of the following elements in a sales training program, keeping in mind that the best programs may include all of these benefits.
If your company does not have formal sales processes in place, lessons on sales processes will be crucial in helping your sales team stay focused and on track. Establishing a clear, defined workflow for your sales team can help ensure they’re sticking to the script, logging data in a way that is accessible to other team members, and operating at their most efficient.
“What I often advise businesses to look for in sales training is … how well the training will build up the sales reps’ ability and consistency to rigorously execute the sales process that their organization has designed and committed to,” Li said. “There should be a clear fit between what the training focuses on and how the concepts and tools fit into the overall sales strategy and also the reps’ workflow.”
Sales prospecting involves outbound calling or emailing to gain business. If your company has a strong inbound marketing program from which the sales team gets their leads but outbound communications are ineffective or lacking, you aren’t making the most of your opportunities.
Certain sales training programs may offer insight into the best ways to reach out to qualified leads. These programs also may include an overview of new tools and software that could support your outbound communications and sales efforts. Giving your team the insight and tools needed to better engage prospects and nurture them along the sales funnel could be transformative in converting leads into customers.
Your sales team is the physical representation of your company, and it’s imperative that they portray a positive image. A sales training program can teach employees about brand image and public relations while providing guidance on how sales reps should act to make a good impression on prospects and customers.
Even when it’s looking like the sale might not be closed, it’s important for your salespeople to uphold your brand values and messaging in everything they do. Sales training programs that educate salespeople about the importance of marketing and branding and how they dovetail with day-to-day sales roles can help your sales team think more holistically about where they fit in the overall organization.
Marketing teams and sales teams sometimes find themselves at odds, but they need to be aligned to produce results. Salespeople should understand marketing and branding, while marketers should know what salespeople need to succeed. Encourage relationship building and education between the two departments.
There’s a wide range of philosophies for how sales teams should operate and a long-standing history and evolution of sales tactics. Find a sales training program that aligns with your business’s sales philosophy and educates salespeople about its importance. While philosophy may not seem as practical as sales tactics, it can help salespeople approach their role with more consistency and strategy.
“It’s my opinion that the best sales training programs are ones that support individual style and methodology,” said Diane Helbig, founder of business and leadership advisory firm Helbig Enterprises. “They marry what has to be done in sales to who the salesperson is and how they communicate. The programs to avoid are the ones that try to get the salespeople to engage in behaviors that are uncomfortable and unnatural.”
Some sales training programs are offered in person, whereas others are virtual. These four types of sales are commonly covered in popular sales training programs throughout many industries:
Consider how your sales team operates, and try to choose a sales training program that resonates with their existing workflow. The goal shouldn’t be to reinvent the wheel but to improve upon what they already do well.
The following sales training programs have a reputation for being helpful. Before you invest in these courses, though, contact a program facilitator to learn more.
Helbig credits the Dale Carnegie Sales Training program with helping to boost her early career. From one in-person training session, students can learn the following skills:
Grant Cardone Sales Training University offers a wide variety of sales training courses. Here are some courses you may want to consider:
All courses are available online, and new courses are added often.
Harvard Extension School’s Strategic Sales Management course is designed for sales managers who work in business-to-consumer or business-to-business companies. It includes these course topics:
Eric Rittmeyer, a former U.S. Marine, developed a type of sales training he calls “psychological performance training.” Rittmeyer’s sales program, Mental Toughness Boot Camp, uses psychological performance training to help sales teams improve bottom-line company profits. This course is delivered in person (a three-hour session) and via Zoom (a two-hour session).
Sales training programs can quickly help your sales team close more deals and deliver more revenue to the business, but that’s not their only benefit. Extending sales training programs to your salespeople shows that you’re willing to invest in their professional development, which can improve employee morale and boost your retention rate. In the end, providing sales training programs to your team is a win-win for both employers and employees.
Jacob Bierer-Nielsen contributed to this article.