We’ve all been there. Clicking mindlessly through an agonizingly slow video presentation or sitting in a hot, stuffy conference room with dozens of other people listening to a presenter drone on about things you already know.
Sales training programs are often like that — but they don’t have to be. When done right, they can improve your team’s performance and help you move closer to your sales goals. The trick is knowing what training program and techniques to use.
In this guide, we’ll dive deep into sales training and give you the information you need to choose an impactful course for your team, including:
- What is sales training?
- Why sales training is important
- The different types of sales training programs
- The 15 best sales training programs
- How much do sales training courses cost?
- Top 6 sales training techniques
What Is Sales Training?
Sales training is the process of developing and fine-tuning the skills of sales professionals and managers by increasing their understanding of their buyers, modernizing their approach to the sales process, and equipping them with strategies, techniques, and technology that top performers use to achieve sales success.
This includes teaching them how to best engage with prospects, build relationships with customers, close deals, upsell and cross-sell, and much more. And when conducted on an ongoing basis, training continually improves your sellers’ approach to both new leads and qualified SQLs.
Why Sales Training Is Important
We could take paragraphs to discuss the importance of sales training. But it can just as easily be summed up in a few statistics:
- Per a survey conducted by the Association of Talent Development (ATD) in 2021, over a quarter (28%) of median salespeople didn’t meet their company’s sales goals during the last fiscal year. (And notably, when the median salesperson fails to reach the goal, at least 50% of the sales team doesn’t either.)
- On the flip side, Accenture found that every dollar invested in training yields about $4.53 or a 353% ROI.
- And according to LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report for 2020, top-performing sales reps are up to 33% more likely to spend time training with their managers and up to 46% more likely to receive outside training from other sales experts.
In other words, effective sales training boosts your bottom line and helps you reach your company’s quarterly and annual sales goals by turning average sales reps into top performers.
But the need for high-quality training runs much deeper than that. Now that more sales teams are working remotely, more sales conversations are happening online via video chat, email, and social media. The market is evolving faster than ever, and sales reps need high-quality ongoing training to keep up.
The Different Types of Sales Training Programs
All that being said, training is only helpful if you choose the right program. Let’s look at three of the most common buckets for sales training courses and discuss who they’re right for.
Sales Management Training Programs
Training your sales managers and leadership is very different from training junior- and senior-level sales reps. Besides having a much bigger knowledge base and skill set than the average salesperson, their job is unique.
They need to support and manage a team, set and measure KPIs, develop strategies, coach and mentor team members, and more. As a result, sales leadership training courses focus more heavily on these topics, rather than basic sales concepts and techniques.
Training Programs for Sales Representatives
When it comes to ongoing training for sales reps, there are dozens and dozens of options available. Programs can be categorized by industry, job responsibility, skill, or sales methodology. Here are a few you might recognize:
- B2B or business-to-business sales: Designed for B2B-style businesses that target their sales pitch toward key business decision makers (typically C-suite level leadership or managers) who are responsible for purchasing products, services, and software for their company.
- B2C or business-to-consumer sales: Built for B2C-style businesses that market their products directly to consumers. This will likely involve training in multi or omnichannel sales, as businesses now have to embrace social media, live chat, email, texting, video chat, phone calls, and more to reach leads and customers.
- Inside sales: Courses created for inside sales representatives that cover topics like email marketing, cold calling, and other telesales strategies to help them communicate successfully with prospects.
- Outside or field sales: These training programs are catered to sales reps who spend the bulk of their time meeting with leads and customers face-to-face. The material often deals with topics like relationship building, consultative selling, technology, remote communication with management, and more.
But regardless of their focus, programs designed for junior- and senior-level salespeople will target the same things: the sales cycle and buyers’ journey, engagement strategies, negotiation, and tips and tricks for closing deals.
Sales Training Programs for Beginners
Onboarding new hires should involve some level of training to ensure all members of the sales team have the same baseline knowledge and skills.
Luckily, there are courses made for entry-level positions, internships, and career pivots. These programs cover basic topics like the sales process, popular sales software, frequently asked questions, and strategies for communicating with prospects.
The 15 Best Sales Training Programs
While there are lots of training options out there that can help you keep your sales team’s skills fresh, we decided to focus on online sales training programs this time around.
To give you a better idea of why each program is on this list, here are the core criteria we used:
- Comprehensiveness: The training courses on this list cover their topics in depth and walk trainees through valuable strategies.
- Interactivity: The programs on this list use a mixture of instruction, real-world activities, and coaching.
- Flexibility: These courses offer remote and self-paced options to make training easier.
Without further ado, let’s dig into our picks for the best sales training programs available today. (Note: this list is organized alphabetically, not by ranking.)
From workshops to full-fledged programs, ASLAN offers a wide variety of options. Courses are tailored to inside sales, field sales, and call center sales teams, and several are designed specifically for managers.
While the programs give concrete examples and strategies, much of the training is focused on developing the right mindset. Under this model, reps are empowered to think more independently and apply what they learn, even when faced with a new challenge.
Here are a few courses that ASLAN offers:
- INTelligence™ – Inbound Selling Skills: How to change inbound sales calls into collaborative, consultative conversations
- Other-Centered® Selling for Business Development (Field and Inside Sales): How to navigate emotional resistance to sales pitches and earn trust
- QuadCoaching™: A brief workshop to help managers refine their coaching technique
The Brooks Group
From individual to team training, there are several ways you can give your team ongoing professional development opportunities when using Brooks Group’s interactive sales training programs.
Following the award-winning IMPACT Selling® model, entry level e-learning courses show trainees how to navigate the sales process smoothly. And, from there, trainees can jump into workshops, known as labs, to refine specific skill sets even further. With multiple assessment options available, testing your team members’ proficiency is easy too.
Here are some unique training programs offered by Brooks Group:
- Digital Selling Skills Lab: Includes four workshops on holding successful virtual meetings
- IMPACT-U: How to move through the sales process, from prospecting to relationship building, seamlessly
- Personality Style Training: How to tailor your sales pitch and communicate with different buyer personalities (DISC)
Offering both a self-paced eLearning solution and instructor-led training, Challenger is a program that any type of workforce can use. All courses and workshops follow the Challenger model and include a wide variety of topics like storytelling, deal innovation, and pipeline acceleration. Challenger even provides certification courses and assessments to those interested in making their training more official.
Here’s a small sampling of their courses:
- Activating Customer Mobilizers: How to recognize, communicate with, and win over key stakeholders
- Challenger™ Negotiations: How to negotiate using the Challenger™ Selling model
- Level Up Workshops: Shorter instructor-led sessions to refine your outreach, discovery calls, demos, and more
Corporate Visions has partnered with leading academic experts from Warwick Business School, Florida State University, and the University of Alabama to offer training that’s backed by science. The courses cover topics ranging from sales to marketing, customer service, and coaching. And each one leans on the findings of modern research in neuroscience, behavioral economics, and social psychology.
Programs are offered in virtual instructor training, instructor-led classroom training, and on-demand online methods, which means your team can refine their skills and techniques from anywhere, anytime.
Here’s a high-level breakdown of some of their available sales programs:
- Capture Value™: A “counterintuitive” way to negotiate with buyers and close deals
- Elevate Value™: How to generate a sense of urgency from C-suite level decision-makers to make a purchase
- Expand Value™: How to protect and strengthen your customer relationships against your competitors
Highspot is a sales enablement platform designed to help you create interactive training courses on everything from writing winning proposals to negotiating, building sales pipelines, growing strategic accounts, and much more. But that isn’t the best part.
With Highspot, you aren’t limited to one sales training program. Instead, you can mix and match virtual instructor-led and self-paced courses from industry experts like RAIN Group, Sandler Training, ValueSelling Associates, and Challenger to create custom learning pathways for onboarding your new sellers, upskilling your existing team members, and improving manager-led coaching.
You can also plug your own sales content into the programs to guide your sales reps in using it and add real-world exercises to help your team practice what they learned. Once you share your program with your sales reps, you can sit back and analyze their progress with the program and highlight areas that need improvement.
Visit Highspot Marketplace to explore complimentary packages from leading sales training companies.
Using interactive learning maps™, sales simulations, and peer-to-peer learning, Ignite Selling flips the traditional sales training model on its head. Rather than sitting trainees in front of a generic PowerPoint presentation, each program carefully pinpoints the weaknesses of your team through customized, gamified simulations. Once discovered, the program focuses on improving those skills in targeted workshops.
The gamification style of Ignite’s training not only makes it more engaging for trainees, but also allows them to participate in programs as a group. This opens the door to more constructive peer feedback and mentorship, as team members think through scenarios together.
Courses are customized to the team and organization, but an overview of their options can be found on Ignite Selling’s website.
Janek Performance Group
Janek offers three different tracks for their sales training programs. Their Core Skills courses cover basic sales techniques and strategies. Meanwhile, their Advanced Skills courses are built to help your teams navigate high-stakes situations like negotiations and interactions with C-suite decision-makers. The third track helps managers coach their sales reps and reinforce the training their team received.
Like the other programs on this list, Janek uses an interactive training approach, known as ATLAS, to increase learning retention in real life sales situations.
The courses can be delivered via on-site instructor-led sessions, online instructor-led training, or in a blended environment. Janek Performance Group also offers a train-the-trainer option for each course, which gives your managers and leadership the freedom to handle in-house training themselves.
Here’s what some of their courses look like:
- Trade Show Selling™: The planning, execution, and follow-up of a successful trade show attendance
- Selling to the C-suite: How to approach, engage, build rapport with, and sell to executive leadership
- Critical TeleSelling Skills®: All about selling your products and services over the phone
RAIN Group is a great option for sales training. The award-winning company offers dozens of different programs and will even mix and match its 70 modules to build a curriculum to fit your needs.
The company offers onsite and virtual training options. And by following their interactive process from the pre-work and classroom sessions to application activities and simulations, your sales reps will be able to retain and use learning more easily. RAIN Group even partners with sales enablement platforms like Highspot, which allows you to increase their interactivity and customization.
RAIN Group’s training programs start with foundational knowledge, walk you step-by-step through successful strategies, and address common roadblocks and buyer personas to give your reps complete end-to-end guidance.
Here are are just a few of RAIN Group’s options:
- Strategic Account Management: Tactics to help you manage and grow your accounts
- RAIN Sales Negotiation: Rules for success and tips for navigating high-stakes negotiations with buyers
- Virtual Selling: How to communicate with buyers online and technology that will elevate your sales pitch
Richardson Sales Performance
Richardson Sales Performance has a large and well-organized library of training courses available. Programs can be viewed by job description, including those of sales professionals, managers, and leadership.
Since the courses cover both foundational sales training and fresh approaches and mindsets, you have the flexibility to train your employees at a high level or drill down to specific techniques and strategies you’d like to implement.
These courses are also woven seamlessly into Richardson’s Connected Selling Curriculum which makes up four distinct stages: creating your pipeline, winning opportunities, growing your accounts, and managing sales. This makes it easier to select a course that will actually help your sales reps meet their KPIs.
Here are just a few courses that Richardson Sales Performance offers:
- Sprint Prospecting™: How to engage and build relationships with new prospects
- Consultative Selling: How to dialog with prospects naturally and tailor a pitch to the buyers’ needs
- Storytelling: The value of storytelling in your sales pitch and advice on how to do it well
Sales Enablement PRO
Sales Enablement PRO offers individual courses and accredited certifications for sales enablement professionals of all skill levels. Each course includes four 20-30 minute lessons created by industry experts with various reading assignments, videos, worksheets, and assessments included. And at the completion of a full sales certification, trainees receive an official certificate that they can share with their network.
For those who are interested in ongoing training, Sales Enablement PRO also offers an all-access pass to their programs, which allows you to take all of their online courses available (including new ones released) for an entire year. If that’s not enough to convince the decision makers in your organization, though, Sales Enablement PRO does provide a free justification letter template to give your pitch a little more oomph.
Here are a few of the certifications available:
- Sales Enablement Professional: Foundational training for sales enablement
- Sales Readiness Initiative: Onboarding, training, and coaching best practices and tips for success
- Sales Guidance Initiative: All about building and executing sales plays
Following the Sandler sales methodology, Sandler’s library of courses has something for everyone. Each program uses an interactive four-step approach — Awareness and Knowledge, Application, Skill-Building, and Mastery-Level Habits — to make sure the concepts sink in. And many of Sandler’s courses are self-enroll, which means you can get your team started quickly. If you’re leaning toward an instructor-led course or full sales certification, they have options for you as well.
Regardless of the program you decide on, Sandler uses a similar structure in all of its programs. Starting with foundational material, the modules create a logical flow where trainees can explore strategies, habits, and mindsets that will help them succeed.
Here’s what a few of their courses look like at a high level:
- Dealing with Difficult People: Strategies for preventing and de-escalating conflict when dealing with angry customers or dicey situations
- Sandler Sales Foundations: Full-service sales training course that covers all the basics
- Sales Management Training: How managers should approach hiring, change management, meetings, and more
Udemy is an online learning platform where professionals in virtually any industry can publish training content and offer certifications. It’s widely known as a place where newbies and career pivoters can go to get the skills they need to land a job.
But not all of their sales training is entry-level (though they do have plenty of those). In fact, there are courses designed for all sorts of skill levels and specific needs (like B2B startup sales).
Here are some of their most popular options:
- Lead Generation Machine: Cold Email B2B Master Course
- Cold Calling for B2B Sales: How to Prospect Over the Phone
- Sales Training: Practical Sales Techniques
ValueSelling Associates (VSA) doesn’t just work with the “traditional” sales team. Their ValueSelling framework is suited to just about everyone that influences or touches sales projects. This includes marketers, customer service, channel sales, implementation consultants, and more.
But this isn’t the only factor that makes VSA a top pick in our book. The programs are also offered in a variety of formats: instructor-led (virtual and in-person) and on-demand (online). More importantly, VSA is focused on deep, lasting learning, which they facilitate by handing off the process to managers and leadership once the initial training sessions conclude.
Programs are completely customizable, so contact ValueSelling Associates for more information.
While VantagePoint (VP) has a much smaller library than most training program providers, its content packs a punch. Rather than giving trainees a rigid “if this, then that” chart to follow in their sales conversations, the programs teach salespeople to think on their feet by following what VantagePoint calls the “Sales Agility Code®.”
Inside this methodology, sales teams learn how to assess situations, select an appropriate sales strategy, and use the resources available to them to communicate value to the buyer. Combined with VP’s AgileEdge® solution, sales managers and teams can drill into customers’ situations to pinpoint the best approach for every buyer that they encounter.
Here are their programs:
- Sales Agility Code® Training: Helps reps pick the best sales approach for every customer and situation on their own
- Sales Management Code® Training: How to coach sales reps effectively and efficiently
- Pipeline Coaching Training: How to assess pipeline health and improve it via targeted sales rep coaching
Vengreso offers nine different online training tracks for sales professionals. Covering topics from LinkedIn selling to video sales, the courses tackle training in a unique way, combining instructor-led micro sessions with on-demand training, interactive tools, assessments and live coaching.
But their ten-step approach doesn’t just involve sit-down training. Since the courses are designed to change behavior long-term, Vengreso’s process also includes several preparation steps and customized materials to set your team up for success.
Here are a few programs on Vengreso’s list:
- Selling with LinkedIn®: Teaches large teams how to use platforms like LinkedIn to sell products and services
- Video Sales Mastery: For B2B teams to learn the ins-and-outs of using video in their sales pitches
- Prospecting Basics: Free training that covers the core strategies and theory behind successful prospecting
How Much Do Sales Training Courses Cost?
As much as we all hate the answer “it depends,” it really does. Some program providers charge monthly subscription fees to access their materials, while others require you to pay by the event and seat.
At the same time, pricing for courses targeted at sales reps and sales managers is generally unavailable unless you request a custom quote. What we can say for certain is this: If you’re looking for entry-level courses, the price is generally very low. You can even find free sales training courses and videos offered by platforms like Coursera, Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning, and HubSpot Academy if you’re looking for a 101 breakdown.
Top 6 Sales Training Techniques
Ultimately, selecting a course is only half the battle. Once you’ve found one, you need to make sure you implement it effectively. Here are a few best practices you can use to do that.
1. Empower Reps to Self-Identify Areas of Improvement
You don’t have to task your sales leaders with the responsibility of building a unique sales training program for every employee. Instead, show your salespeople how to review their own sales performance metrics like deals closed, average deal size, and emails opened.
This will empower them to find areas that need improvement on their own, and give reps more control over their learning.
2. Make the Content Easy to Navigate
The last thing you want your team to do is spend hours digging through files and folders to find a module, lesson, or recording.
By making courses, sales materials, and activities (like quizzes and training exercises) easy to search and access, your team can jump into new sales training programs faster and review important tidbits of information more effortlessly.
3. Customize Learning Pathways
Each of your sales reps has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. So naturally, they don’t need the same coaching and support to be successful.
Rather than requiring everyone to complete a generic training that only a few of them need, provide a wide variety of courses and activities and let them chart their own learning pathway. Or build customized programs that fit their needs and interests by pairing modules and activities together.
4. Build Sales Content Into Training
The more familiar your sales reps are with your content, the better able they are to use it. By building your sales content into your training courses, you give your sales teams valuable exposure to the materials and enable them to practice their actual pitches in guided activities.
5. Offer Real-World Training Exercises
Reading manuals and watching training videos, while good, is insufficient. Your reps need to practice and get real-world experience too.
By creating real-world activities for your sales reps to complete at the end of every module, you can reinforce the concepts and techniques they’ve learned without hurting your bottom line. Your reps can record themselves making a sales pitch, or they can draft cold emails and inbound replies. So long as the activity gives them a natural way to use the knowledge they gained during the training, you’re on the right track.
6. Track Training Impact
No matter what type of sales training program you set up, it’s critical to track your team’s progress and the overall impact (ROI) of the course. Not just because you want to avoid wasting money, though. When it comes to sales training, it’s critical that you make an investment that has a positive effect on your performance and sales goals.
The truth is, when it comes to sales training programs, we’re still only scratching the surface. There are hundreds of options out there to choose from. And many have their own unique approach and methodology.
But if you do your due diligence and choose a program that’s customized, interactive, and relevant to your reps, you’re bound to get a big ROI.