As a result of all the sales training I have developed and delivered, I have learned a lot of things. Depending on the product or service, the training period will vary, as well as how much classroom time is needed versus on-the-job training. Even if an organization only has one location/office, I feel the best approach is a consistent training program. Every organization’s goal should be to get to know each student, in each class, and have all students and classes receive the same information no matter who is facilitating the class.
Two critical reasons exist for why an organization should build their training this way:
- Predictable results that hold all parties accountable. When management knows exactly what was taught, then it allows for better management once trainees are in their roles because they can be held to the desired results explained during training.
- The more an organization can build structure and systems into the training program, the less the trainees’ success is reliant on the trainer’s skills.
An in-person element should exist in every training program, and it should be in the form of a facilitator more than a hard-core trainer. Management/ownership must always be prepared to ask, “What if my trainer quits tomorrow?” If that happened, who would teach your trainees?
Seek balance between the knowledge the trainer imparts to the new hires, and systems that do the teaching. Training tools should include the right combination of recorded videos, recorded audio, slide presentations, exercises, hands-on training/practice, and testing.
Ongoing education is the other key part of sales training. New employees can only retain so much. The initial goal should be to give them enough information to make it out of the nest. Once they are out and flying, you can give them more information at the right pace to facilitate their long-term success. Depending on your organization’s product or service, that information could be given in daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly training sessions, or some combination of these.
Continuing education should be a company’s primary responsibility if its goal is to have the most effective sales staff possible. After fourteen-plus years in sales, I constantly discover new sales and personality-related topics. Ongoing training, in any form, should include testing to confirm the information retention among team members. Topics should be taught with the team’s goal being to apply what they learn.
Sales Training Tip
Testing throughout the training program is the key to accurate measurement of trainees’ progress and information retention. Each module/section of training should conclude with a quiz. I recommend using a Learning Management System (LMS) that allows tracking and reporting on results. Passing grades should be set so if reps fail, they do not move to the sales floor. Also, build in performance requirements for the trainer that a certain percentage of trainees must pass the testing portions.