How would you feel if you went to your doctor for an ailment, and without any diagnosis or investigation, your doctor says: “take some aspirin, you’ll be fine”? Most people would be outraged and immediately start looking for a new doctor. Sales training recommendations should be no different.
Be wary of anyone who suggests a generic approach when you are trying to map out your sales training strategy. An effective training game plan can only be determined by a thorough understanding of the challenges your team faces and figuring out the root causes of those problems.
The first step to solidifying a sales training strategy is to examine the state of your current sales funnel. After a sales funnel assessment, you will have a better understanding of your team’s strengths and weaknesses.
A proper sales funnel assessment could reveal problems that sales training simply can not address. However, there are some common challenges for which skills training has proven to be a highly effective solution - given there is proper reinforcement.
Each team is unique so there is no definitive list of challenges. With that in mind, here are three very common challenges and the type of sales training that can help address them:
“Deals get stuck right after the demo stage”
Whether your sellers scheduled the demo through outbound prospecting or if the prospect came to you, turning demo requests into opportunities is an essential part of any sales funnel. However, sales leaders often tell us that right after their sellers give a demo, the prospects go dark and opportunities stall. There are two skill sets you can enhance through training that might address this issue.
The first sales skill that can address this challenge is prospecting skills. Your salespeople may not be reaching the right people who hold the right buying influence. They may be targeting the wrong company or buyer persona. Training your salespeople on prospecting skills will ensure they are reaching out to prospects with the correct buying influence and persona.
The second sales skill that can help resolve this challenge is qualification skills. Just because a person agrees to a demo, does not mean it’s an opportunity. That is true even if the prospect is the right type of decision maker at an ideal account. The prospect needs to be able to articulate a change that is causing them to act and clearly define the scope of the challenges they are actively trying to fix in order for something to be an opportunity.
Sellers need the skills to gain this information and know how to use it to develop the opportunity. This level of qualification ensures only opportunities that belong in the funnel end up there. The result will be less stalled deals and your sellers will now be able to focus on the most winnable opportunities.
“It is like the wild west – all my sellers have their own process and skill level”
This problem is persistent across many sales teams and has wide reaching effects on all aspects of the sales organization. Sellers may have adopted old techniques that they prefer over the ones you currently teach. When you don’t have a standardized sales process and skillset, it leads to more inaccurate forecasts, difficulty in coaching, and an on-boarding process that is lacking a coherent approach to selling your solution.
The best sales training recommendation for this sort of challenge is to embrace a scalable sales methodology that provides a common language for your whole team. Even if you already have this in place, if your sellers are not following the current process or have vastly different skill sets, it’s worth to invest in sales training that everyone can adopt.
By implementing a common sales methodology, it lets you easily discern the discrepancy in skill level within your team members. This is greatly beneficial when determining who needs coaching and where. This will help to close the skill gap between sellers, improve forecasting and make coaching more impactful.
“They discount too much and our close rates are still low”
Discounting hurts business and negatively impacts the bottom line. It’s even more frustrating when sellers consistently discount, and their close rates remain low. The best sales training game plan in this scenario is to train the sellers on sales call execution and planning skills.
Sellers that tend to suffer from this problem usually rely heavily on relationship building skills. While building a relationship with your prospect is good, the buyer is ultimately looking to solve a problem and the seller has to be a guide throughout that process in a consultative manner.
Your sellers need the skills to ask insightful questions and know how to share relevant information so that they are providing value before the deal ever gets signed. The sellers need to know how to plan for a call and execute in a way that provides value to the prospect/customer on every interaction.
Another cause of persistent discounting is that sellers don't know the customer decision process. The buyer may not be ready for a proposal or not ready to buy, however, the seller will try to entice them with a steep discount.
Having your sellers trained on the buyer’s decision journey and the skills associated with call planning and execution will lead to value being created before a purchase is made hence, less discounting and higher close rates.
The Best Sales Training Game Plan
When mapping out the best sales training game plan for your team, start with a sales funnel assessment to get a thorough understanding of your challenges. That will let you know what sort of sales training is the best solution. After you’ve determined your major challenges and solution, don’t forget to ensure the sales training has a reinforcement plan, tailored for your different sales roles and is delivered in a way that aligns with your teams culture.