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How to Build an Effective Sales Training Program

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management, Sales Training, Coaching, and Onboarding

If you want your sales team to efficiently and consistently close deals, you need to arm them with the resources and materials they need to be successful. Sales training programs that educate and prepare your team to anticipate rather than react to challenging sales situations is key.

Every business needs to present what it’s selling as standing apart from the competition, but differentiating how you sell it is equally important. To do this, you need to have a high-impact and effective sales training program to help your salespeople excel.

The Importance of Building Sales Skills

The sales landscape has dramatically shifted: 44% of B2B buyers said they don’t want to speak to a sales rep. This can seem daunting, but it’s clear that cold calling or sending targeted emails isn’t the most effective way to reach your target buyer. Because of this, it’s important to focus your efforts on building a learning management system (LMS) in a sales enablement platform to help your sales team connect with buyers in a way that will help them close deals.

“Enablement is the key to unlocking sales productivity.”
— Adam Gilberd, VP Commercial Sales, Salesforce

Market dynamics are constantly shifting, which means your sales processes and tactics also need to evolve. Businesses need to adapt and adjust their sales training programs to meet the changing needs of their sellers — there is no one-and-done solution — this means it’s best to approach your training and coaching efforts with the mindset of ever-evolving change management.

Let’s examine some best practices to give your team learning resources that are easy for them to digest — and retain.

Why Sales Training Programs Fail

Most organizations use some type of LMS for onboarding new hires or retraining current staff. These systems often have inherent flaws, mainly because it’s difficult to adequately measure if salespeople are putting what they learn into practice. A lot of learning programs also fail because there’s no way to reinforce the knowledge sales reps need to retain on the job. Sales managers will train and certify sellers on new selling skills, yet find that these skills aren’t being used when engaging with customers. If your sales reps are unable to bridge the gap between practice and execution, any training program will have limited effect.

Another issue that plagues these programs is that training materials aren’t unified to create a coherent and sequential learning journey. Building or maintaining these programs in-house also can be labor intensive. If it takes too much effort to keep your program up to date, materials can become stale and irrelevant. Sales managers also need to be closely attuned to what’s happening in the market to understand any headwinds their sales reps are facing.

A problem many businesses face today is that the approach to sales training is stuck in the past. Although sales technology has advanced rapidly in response to buyer demands, few businesses are utilizing these technological advances. There are numerous factors that may cause ineffective sales training, but ultimately it comes down to two things: technology and timing. With hybrid workforces, in-person training isn’t always feasible. This creates a reliance on online sales training processes, which means you need to leverage technology to your advantage to build and maintain an efficient, effective and integrated program that gives your sellers what they need when they need it.

How to Launch the Most Effective Sales Training Program

Effective sales training means arming sales reps with essential sales techniques and transforming new skills into daily habits and winning behaviors. Below are four ways you can start creating repeatable sales success.

1. Helping Sellers Retain What They Learn

It’s important to make sure your sellers retain what they’re learning as 87% of sellers forget their training within 30 days.

Here are some tips:

  • Create self-paced and personalized sales training courses, lessons and assessments. Allow your sales reps to find answers to their questions. Learning at their own pace creates a relevancy to them that will help with retention.
  • Surface related training content in your sales plays and CRM. This holistic approach to learning will help increase adoption and impact.
  • Learn by doing. Let your sellers practice sales pitches and real-world scenarios with role-playing video assessments where they can receive immediate, one-on-one feedback from their teammates or sales manager.
  • Make it easy to understand. Create intuitive modules based on what your sales team members are struggling with. Be specific about what they need to know, what they should say to a customer, and what next steps they need to take. This matters.

2. Build Efficient Programs that can Scale

Don’t waste time or money on inefficient training programs that are inflexible and can’t scale to your needs. Your sales reps need to be ready to address any changes in the market and you can help them stay on top of this with a program where you can:

  • Manage your course content with an LMS or sales training tool that takes minimal effort to maintain.
  • Create role-specific courses so that your sellers can dive into what matters most to them.
  • Create guided learning experiences that infuse your organization’s sales methodologies.
  • Build a robust, customizable sales content and training library for your sellers to easily find case studies, playbooks, and templates that address their specific needs.
  • Connect your CRM and training courses to sales performance to monitor the value of your program and identify where skill gaps exist.

To help you get started, download the Definitive Guide to Sales Training and Coaching.

3. Build the Best Sales Training Program for your Unique Sales Goals

Before you start building your new sales training program, it’s important to understand your differentiated sales strategies and the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’re trying to achieve.

“I always like to start with the end in mind, whether it’s a training program or any kind of enablement program,” Michelle Cox, revenue enablement tools and technology manager at Sailpoint, said. “What is the business outcome that you’re looking at? You want to work with your leaders first and foremost, to find out those initiatives and help drive those outcomes.”

Other things to consider include:

  • Identify the best type of sales tool to meet your training needs.
  • Set goals and objectives for your program. Consider metrics like course ratings, completion rate, and net promoter score.
  • Experiment with different formats to see what works with your team.
  • Offer sellers interactive learning experiences that provide real-life scenarios to help keep them engaged.
  • Incorporate a variety of training focus areas that range from consultative selling, prospecting and negotiating to sales management and selling on social media like LinkedIn.
  • Set a regular cadence of gathering feedback from your sellers to keep a pulse on how the program is working.
  • Make sure your overall training program and individualized sales coaching efforts are working in tandem.

4. Enable your Sales Reps and Sales Managers to Continuously Learn

Everyone has different ways of learning and Mary Rose Debor, who has an extensive background in education as well as building learning programs for adults, has some tips to follow:

  • Create task-oriented or behavior-oriented training modules relevant to specific roles. Sales professionals learn and retain information better when they understand the “why” behind something.
  • Develop repetitive learning opportunities. Consistent reinforcement helps people learn new skills and information.
  • Add templates that include scripts for sales calls, emails, and follow-up interactions. Be sure to include guidance on how to engage and respond to customer inquiries.
  • Build content that is learner-focused rather than instructor-led.
  • Sellers don’t need more hours of training — they need more effective training sessions. A focus on the quality of your training modules, and not the quantity, should be the priority.
  • Provide a sales management training program that gives sales leaders the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to motivate sellers and improve sales techniques.
  • Celebrate your successes. Share success stories and create a positive environment that motivates everyone to do their best.

Improve Sales Cycle Time, Win Rates, and Increase Revenue

Organizations spend a lot of money on sales training, which means it’s essential to get a return on this investment. Let’s look at some ways a great sales training program can help you increase your sales team’s win rates and boost the business’ bottom line.

  • Sales enablement and sales teams that effectively manage sales content reduce the struggle to achieve their goals by 27%.
  • Organizations with data-driven sales enablement tools improve win rates by 9%.
  • Using sales plays with sellers reduces friction with seller engagement by 32%.
  • Enablement teams that streamline sales processes to unify buyer experiences see 12% higher win rates.

Investing in Sales Training Pays Off

For every dollar a company invests in training, it receives about $4.53 in return, which is the equivalent to a 353% ROI.

It can be a rub between asking for money for sales training when sales are tasked with bringing in money. But here’s the thing — a great sales training strategy is a worthwhile, long-term investment.

  • Well-trained sales reps not only close deals but deliver top-notch customer service, which turns into customer retention that helps your bottom line and builds loyalty with your brand.
  • Successful sales reps stay with the company longer, reducing churn and the costs involved with replacing employees.
  • Effective sales training can help you turn average sales reps into top sales performers.
  • You can minimize costs of your training program over the long term because you can gauge effectiveness and monitor ROI through sales success, like closed deals on an ongoing basis.
  • Building a seller’s sales skills helps them sell more effectively. This enables you to drive higher performance and create a culture of learning in your workplace.

How Highspot Helps you Build the Right Sales Training Program

At Highspot, we understand the need to maximize your sales teams’ productivity to be able to drive more revenue, increase win rates, effectively engage with customers, and stay on top of shifting market demands. That’s why we’ve built a sales enablement platform that reduces friction, provides an intuitive training program structure, and allows you to scale.

Our approach to training and coaching shortens the ramp time for new reps by 19%. And we’ve reduced the complexity of finding and personalizing content for every seller by saving them over 500 hours each, every year.

Other ways we help you build a program that benefits your sales reps — and your business:

  • We guide sellers with contextual learning content by using AI-driven sales playbooks. This helps them have successful conversations and improves go-to-market initiatives by 50%.
  • Our approach integrates sales training and enablement to drive retention and adoption of sales methodologies 95% faster.
  • The flexibility of our platform supports managers and sellers by identifying what’s working and what’s not.
  • The data-driven sales coaching we offer increases the number of sellers that hit their quota by 19%.
  • We intentionally built easy-to-use technology so that when it comes to developing or updating your training program it only takes hours to create courses with the drag-and-drop functionality of Highspot’s Smart Pages™.
  • We’ve created the most robust sales training and coaching program to help you accelerate your business. To help you meet your goals, we offer access to our industry-leading content in the Highspot Marketplace to set you on the path to success.

It’s time to uplevel your training program with the leading sales enablement platform. To get started, contact us today.