There are many things to consider when you are looking to modernize your sales training. Your sales training could be teaching sales tactics that are outdated. Even if you are teaching appropriate skills, the way you are going about training your sellers may be a bit too old school.
The sales landscape has been revolutionized. As of 2019, almost half of the sales professionals in the U.S. are inside sales professionals. The percentage of companies using CRMs went from 56% in 2012 to 74% by 2013 alone. The shift in how sales people execute their role and the technology we utilize have given sales leaders more visibility into their teams than ever before.
Sales training techniques need to change in order to take full advantage of the ways in which the sales profession has evolved. Here are three sales training techniques that are totally outdated and what you should be doing instead:
When most sales were conducted by going to the client’s office, there were not that many options for a new seller to get hands on experience. The novice seller had to accompany experienced sales people as they made their calls and hope to pick up on the skills that would also make them successful.
Now you might think, that’s an easy fix; just have the new sellers shadow the inside sales people. It’s not so simple. Shadowing phone calls and going on ride alongs are highly ineffective means of transferring knowledge. First, top sales people are not always the best teachers. They know what to do but don’t necessarily know how to teach that skill. Second, even top performers have bad habits that you don’t want to transfer to your newer sellers.
What to do instead? Listen to recorded calls
Use your call recordings! Chances are, the calls that your reps are conducting are either already being recorded or there is an easy way to get them recorded. Whenever a rep asks an excellent question or makes an outstanding prospecting call, mark those recordings and compile them into a folder. Then use these examples of best practices to train your new or low performing sellers.
This makes your training efforts more scalable. When you shadow a seller, there is no guarantee they will have a spectacular call. If you have recorded examples however, you know that the new reps will be learning from a reliable and outstanding example. You can also use call recordings to pinpoint specific skills you want the new sellers to focus on.
No matter how engaging a training is, it’s difficult to hold participant’s attention for an entire day or two. It’s simply too much information being thrown at an individual in a very condensed time period. Much like the first outdated sales training technique discussed above, this technique is also a product of circumstance.
Most of the sales people a few decades ago were traveling. Pulling people off the field was a very big deal and still is. Therefore, condensing the sales training was the only viable option. The inherent disadvantage to this is that little, if anything, actually gets through to the sales person. When learning a new skill, humans need time to process their new found knowledge and they need time to practice those skills in context before they become habit. 1-2 days of training workshop simply can’t allow for that sort of learning.
What to do instead? Online or hybrid approach
A quick fix to this solution would be to live with the fact that 1-2 days of training will do little more than introduce concepts to the sellers. Then use the time after the training to conduct reinforcement through online platforms and/or webinars. This would be a hybrid approach to training.
Alternatively, you could take your sales training totally online. This way, your team does not have to be pulled off the field in order for them to finish their training. They can take 30-40 minutes out of their day to complete their daily requirements. This way, they get to learn something new and also have ample time before the next lesson to actually use the skills they have learned. Online training allows you to take advantage of modern technology in order to bypass the shortcomings of the 1-2 day training workshops.
“We are hosting a 1 day sales training seminar this week in Chicago!” The promoter for that training seminar might as well say, “Give us your money and let us waste your time!!”. Complex sales are well… complex.
Each company has a unique value proposition and different customer segments. The training you need also depends on the skill level of the sellers and the areas they need to be focused on. It is impossible for seminars to be catered to your needs. The audience for those seminars have different skill levels, experience and solutions. Sales training seminars inherently can only provide a cookie cutter approach to sales training and learning.
What to do instead? Training that is customized to your challenges
You get prescriptions based on the illness you have. If a drug company said come to our free seminar and we will give away our miracle drug to cure your illness, you would be skeptical. It should be no different with sales training seminars. Instead, contact a sales training provider with teachings that are scientifically backed. Ensure that when you talk with them, they are listening to the end goals you have in mind and are properly diagnosing your skills challenges. Only then can a real sales training recommendation be made.
This sort of a process will ensure that the training you put your team through will be relevant to the challenges they face. It will also contextualize the learning around a pain point which gives sellers more motivation to actually engage in the learning process.
A lot of these outdated sales training techniques were adopted because the circumstances forced sales leaders’ hand. The modern state of sales and the technology we use now however, allow for incredible learning to happen at scale.
Instead of shadowing a seller, you can listen to recorded examples of best practices. Instead of squeezing learning into a day or two, you can let your sellers take their time with the new knowledge while still keeping them on the field. There are also enough credible sales training providers out there that you can work with experts to truly customize the training to what your team needs.
Don’t shy away from the benefits offered by today’s sales landscape. Embrace them and ensure that the way your seller’s do their job is just as much a differentiator as the solution or product itself.
Want proven sales prospecting techniques to share with your team? Check out this comprehensive sales prospecting resource, based on our analysis of 100,000 sales calls.