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As someone who grew up playing sports, I understood the importance of practice and training at a young age. Many of the lessons I learned on the court and field have laid the foundation for what I know now about sales training. A quote from renown Coach Bobby Knight (in Knight: My Story) stands out in my mind.

“The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

The same holds true for modern sellers. While mindset, persistence and grit go a long way in winning a sale, a strong sales training program is the most important element for your organization’s success.

Shockingly, more than half of people in sales don’t have the right skills to be successful.

But making an investment in your sales force now will benefit the bottom line later. According to an ATD report, 84% of organizations felt sales training helped them meet their sales goals.

The Shift to Continuous Sales Training

In the aftermath of the pandemic, a clear sales training trend has emerged. Rather than in-depth “point-in-time” training, I’m seeing a move toward continuous sales training.

Modern selling skills take time and practice to ultimately master. And in the new sales economy, this is also impacted by changing industries and technologies.

Long-term results require long-term investment. As a result, our sales training engagements at Amy Franko Associates now span a year or more, broken down into quarterly increments, rather than simply being on a project basis.

When your organization supports continual learning through sales training, innovation happens, processes transform, and positive change is inspired!

A Successful Sales Training Program Includes These Things

1. Skills Assessments. Successful sales leaders take time to uncover the gaps in their organizations and build sales development processes. Rather than relying on intuition, data-driven assessment as a precursor to your sales training will study your team’s productivity and performance so you can truly understand their competencies. It also gives you the opportunity to stop and consider if you have the right people in the right roles with the right skills to get you where you need to go as a business. By conducting an evaluation before you launch your new sales training initiative, you’ll know what type of sales training to invest in, rather than guessing what might work. For more skills assessments resources, checkout this whitepaper and evaluation from the Objective Management Group.

2. Key Business Success Measures. Stephen Covey said, “begin with the end in mind,” and that’s what you’re doing here. Determine your key business success measures you want to be working toward. Each business outcome will have a sales skill tied to it. For example, relationship building, or closing. As part of this portion of the sales training, have your team bring actual opportunities to table. For example, I capture data up front in a survey tool that can track ROI– that way a sales pro can see if they that if they invest time in the training, it will impact their commission and sales success. Remember, the connection between sales learning activities and the sales process must be there, or the sales process won’t be consistently applied or measured at the individual level. To learn more about shaping the sales career path, listen to this ATD Sales Enablement Podcast.

3. Support from the Top. Leadership support can make or break any training program. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, when bosses are more engaged and actively show clear support of their employees’ development, participants report they get more value from the training. In the case of sales training, I recommend that you ensure there is support at the highest levels of the company—that may be the CEO, Managing Partner, or Chief Growth Officer.

4. Ongoing Coaching & Advisory with Sales Leadership. Did you know the typical sales manager is only in their role 18-24 months? If you consider the average replacement cost of 150-200% of an employee’s annual salary, the impact on the bottom line can be startling. This disruption also can trickle down through the ranks. Poor management is still a top reason people leave jobs. So when you are making decisions about your sales training program, be sure to include a management skill component. I’ve learned that coaching of the sales leader is the biggest missing link in most organizations. Your coaching model should connect the application of required skills from the various learning programs and the sales process. The biggest leverage point is empowering sales leaders to take on a larger coaching role with their teams. When this happens, it helps the sales leader to step out of day-to-day deal managing, and truly helping their team members reach their goals.

5. Hybrid Training Approach. Most sales experts (including me) advocate for a live, interactive component of sales training. But I also recommend you incorporate digital reinforcement—online sales modules, videos, even podcasts. These are resources your team can turn to over and over again. Combine the live training and digital reinforcement with point in time coaching for sales, and you’re setting the stage for sales success!

6. Technology. Having the right tools, most notably a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, is integral to sales enablement strategy, as well. A CRM is the centralized tool where your relationships, opportunities, and metrics are managed. Of course, the tool is pointless if your team isn’t using it. Make sure your training includes specifics regarding your organization’s sales process. (Watch for more information on tools for sales enablement, including a list of recommended tools, in a coming blog post.)

Get Started with Your Sales Training

Don’t let your competition get an advantage. We can help. If you want to know how to get started with a sales training program that ignites sales, let’s talk. Contact us to schedule time for a discovery conversation with Amy.