April 26, 2016

Getting Sales Training to Stick – Three Ideas

I once sat through a lecture where the teacher explained that people only retain about 20% of what they hear from a class. I can’t remember the rest of his talk, so his story checks out. One of the biggest headaches sales leaders face is how to get sales training to stick with their sales reps. After making real investments in sales training, it’s frustrating to watch 80% of the material vanish after your team walks out of the classroom.

But there’s some good news here. You can get a sales training methodology to stick. Here are three ways to do it:

1) Understand the difference between a sales methodology and a sales process and then unite them.

If your team uses a CRM, gets leads from various sources, has sales stages, etc., That is your process. If your sales team follows a repeatable set of behaviors and has a specific philosophy as to why they are selling, then you have a methodology.

 Most sales training promotes a methodology – strategies, tactics and approaches towards being a better sales person. The existing sales process gets ignored.

A common mistake is that the sales process and sales methodology aren’t matched together.

 For example, if a sales trainer describes a set of steps to find a qualified lead, but your CRM forces you to enter it based on different criteria, your process and methodology are not aligned. There’s no better way to send confusing signals to your sales team. If this is happening, the training won’t stick.

 For smaller companies, it isn’t very hard to make this change. For larger companies it can be more complicated but well worth the effort.

2) You knew this one was coming: Practice.

The most impressive outbound call center I’ve ever seen had a team of 12 inside sales reps who were selling engine parts and related services. They were MONSTERS on the phones. They did almost everything right. They weren’t pushy, they built rapport with prospects, their process was aligned to their methodology (point 1) and they practiced.

 What was their practice routine that made them so good? 30 minutes a week doing role plays. That’s it. A half an hour before work started once a week as a team. This isn’t rocket science, even if they were selling rocket parts.

3) The Managers need to be on board with the methodology.

There’s a lot of bad sales behavior out there and it eats up time. Good sales methodologies are more time management tools than anything else. For sales teams especially, time really is money, and bad behaviors need to be fixed.

 Changing behaviors is not easy and this is why improving sales performance requires strong managers who are willing to drive incremental day-to-day changes. There’s a little bit of art and little bit of science here. They key is to have the managers buy-in and commitment to lead the change. If they aren’t using the sales methodology, it won’t stick.

With growing uncertainty in the markets, a strong sales team becomes more important than ever. Get them trained and put a plan together to make it stick.

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