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Blake Beus


Director of Learning Solutions

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3 ways to increase the quality of sales training


When salespeople finish employee onboarding and enter the field, mistakes will be made – that’s a given. While these mistakes are part of the overall learning process, training that is effective and efficient can help those individuals address and learn from those mistakes in a timely manner.

So how can we organize training that helps new salespeople hit the ground running? How can we guide our sales reps through training that provides them with tools and processes that will help them in the field in addition to building valuable skills?

Pre-Assessment or Prior Knowledge

The first step is to gauge your learners’ prior knowledge to see what they’re bringing to the training, which can be accomplished by giving them a pre-assessment. A pre-assessment is important because your learners will come into the training with varying levels of background knowledge, and acknowledging that knowledge while building upon it is an effective way for learners to buy in to the early stages of a training course.

One of the most effective types of pre-assessment is a hypothetical scenario that the learners may encounter on the job. Basically, the learners are asked a set of multiple choice questions or a set of specific real-world scenarios with potential solutions. In essence, your pre-assessment will let you gauge the different levels of each learner, which can help you adapt training content as needed.

A pre-assessment is effective because it lets you meet the needs of different levels of learners. Instead of a one-size-fits all informative training, you can set a different pace for each learner depending on how they perform in the pre-assessment.

This article provides some tips on building an effective pre-assessment experience for your learners.

Guided Problem-Solving

Adult learners are more likely to engage with a training program if it explicitly shows them how this new knowledge will help them do their jobs better. Guided problem-solving provides learners with simulated real-world situations that illustrate a specific problem that the learner has to solve.

In fact, this ties directly into an important aspect of Malcolm Knowles’s Adult Learning Theory:

“Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance and impact to their job or personal life.”

Guided problem-solving is not just about providing information and facts. It is more about presenting the real-world situations salespeople may encounter, so they can produce solutions based on the nuances of those situations. Instead of bogging learners down with loads of information to recall, it’s much more effective to guide their training to relevant topics based on specific scenarios.

Assessment Scenarios

Every training course needs an assessment, and adding a scenario structure to the final sections of a training course has clear advantages.  

At the end of the training, the learners will be presented with a real-world situation in the sales realm and they will have to come up with their own answer to the problem using the information that they’ve learned along with their own critical problem-solving techniques.

This is effective because it holds the learners accountable for coming up with their own answers, while also providing them with a sense of autonomy. It also provides a sense of empowerment because they will use critical problem-solving skills to solve real-world situations, generating and applying their own, workable answers on the spot. 

When Allen Communication built a sales training program for one of our clients, we wanted to help them cut down on employee ramp up time by applying these principles to the course.

Our training course focused on providing scenario-based assessments and a searchable resource library that was readily available after the course’s conclusion. When we applied these strategies to our program, our client saw an overall decrease in ramp-up time, which helped new salespeople transition out of their trainee bubble much faster.

We found that the resource library was an important addition because it helped learners find any information they may want to go over again. Serious professionals are always learning, so it is a good idea to have a resource library as a continual resource for your learners.

When building out your training content and tools, applying these three things will provide your sales reps with the real-world, situational, and targeted knowledge they need to be effective and hit the ground running in the sales world.

Author Profile Picture
Blake Beus

Director of Learning Solutions

Read more from Blake Beus

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