If you do any research on sales training, most of what you will find is focused on sales approaches and methods and not how people actually, like, learn selling skills. In other words, there are plenty of good — even great — sales methodologies and schools of thought, but a surprising dearth of practical, applicable training methods. Moreover, if you investigated this list of the top 20 sales training companies, you'll find they put a lot more emphasis selling their “proven” methodology, rather than on the specific techniques used to ensure your sales team actually learns and develops life-long, invaluable skills.
Here are just a few of those learning techniques that have worked for me:
Practice Whatever It Is You Preach
So if you are a small to medium-sized business owner or sales leader who wants to ensure your sales team can apply what they have learned in a sales training class, you should spend more time focusing on how sales people learn. For starters, make sure that in whatever sales training you do, you include an element of practice in it. I don't just mean a role play activity after an exercise on handling objections. I am talking about multiple practice sessions that include calling on real prospects during the training process. Your sales people should complete training having demonstrated the selling techniques they learned by talking with real prospects.
Keep It Simple
Sales training programs can be quite elaborate and expensive. Therefore, you may not have the money to hire one of the top sales training companies to swoop in and out of your organization for a three-day training program. If this is the case, one simple and effective way you can improve the way your sales team learns is to schedule weekly team meetings in which you cover a specific sales technique. Each week, put one of your sales people on the spot and act like one of your prospects. Have that sales person practice the sales technique of the week. You and all of the other sales people in the meet will learn from this exchange, and can provide feedback as to how that person could improve what they are doing.
Keep It Small
This kind of training does not require an instructional designer, classrooms, e-learning technology, or a learning management system. However, it requires organization and well-defined sales techniques that you can practice with your team. If you are stuggling with whether you need sales training for your team, ask a subtle question: Do I need sales training or do I need to help my sales people learn specific selling techniques that I know work?
Bill Cushard, Chief Learning Officer at The Knowland Group, is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at well-known companies like E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable.