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5 Training Tips for Sales People


Companies today should understand the long-term benefits of training more than ever, and this especially applies to your sales personnel. Those people are the primary contact between your business and customers, and a good, helpful sales experience will retain more customers than all of the marketing tricks in the world. Furthermore, a poor sales staff will be unable to teach new employees what to do, creating a negative feedback loop which will eventually destroy your business. Sales training offers tons of benefits and should thus be one of your business’s top priorities.

Training your sales staff is critical, but there are far more effective approaches to training than plonking them down once a year to hear some outside sales guru speak for three hours. Here are a few highly effective tips to consider for how to train the best sales people and how to get them to impart that knowledge to subsequent hires.

  1. Keep Training Constant

When I see businesses who view training as something workers do for a single weekend for four hours, I understand that the business views training not as a means to encourage workers to better themselves, but as a thing to be checked off a list. Excessively long training sessions will just cause workers to stop paying attention halfway through as they get bored, especially with younger workers and their shorter attention spans.

Businesses should thus go with shorter, but more frequent sessions to make sure that sales personnel are constantly getting new knowledge and giveing back popular reviews. A half-hour meeting once every few weeks to talk about better methods to sell will impart more information over the long run than a massive meeting where workers will have plenty of time to forget everything they heard.

  1. Prioritize Details

A major challenge for sales people today is how the overwhelming majority of customers conduct online research and read product reviews on what they want to buy before they head into a store. Nothing will lose a sale faster than a customer realizing that he knows more about the product he wants to buy than the sales person.

This means that now more than ever, sales training must emphasize knowing the company product as much as any sales technique. Conduct a training simulation where you ask the trainees questions such as where they can order it online, why that product is so good, and details about the product which may not be found so easily online.

  1. Pair newbies with veterans

As noted above, a major problem with a poorly trained sales force is that veteran workers are less effective at imparting useful knowledge to new hires. But those new hires are going to gravitate towards your veterans anyways for advice. A business should step in to formalize that process with a mentor or buddy system, and mentoring can be one of the most effective means of learning.

Formalizing a mentorship program means making it more than a newbie following a veteran and aping his sales style. After the mentor gets some idea of the mentee’s skills and weaknesses, have the mentor draw up a formal plan for how to teach him. If the mentor is unsure what to do, consider a mentor training program. Making better mentors will lead to better training and sales people down the road.

  1. Have Training Information readily available

When your business holds a training session, your workers should ideally take notes which they can look back on to spur their mind. But a lot of them will not. They will find themselves in a few months wasting time looking up how to do something which their training already taught.

But there is no reason that a business these days should not have their training information readily available to workers online. While a sales person may not be able to look up such information mid-sale, training information should be able to give tips on how to do a better job should things go wrong. Training is just as much about the business providing sales people with the tools and information they need to succeed as it is about telling them how to help the customer.

  1. Encourage Creativity and Initiative

Your sales people are not order takers. Selling requires creativity, a willingness to take charge and the ability to quickly think on one’s feet. While you already should have hired individuals who have those qualities, training can always help create cleverer sales people.

In order to train for initiative, you have to make the employees take initiative in their training. Gamification and problem solving exercises are more effective training methods compared to listening to someone else speak. Above all else, training must emphasize that for a salesperson, the customer’s problem is their problem. Their job is to take charge, quickly figure out what the problem is, and find a way to resolve that problem. This approach is also empowering, creating a more effective and happier sales force.

One Response

  1. I would add ‘Review
    I would add ‘Review approaches’. Tape calls/interactions with customers and play back/review with the trainee. What did they do/say that was good? Where could their approach be improved and how?
    Bryan – training delivery and off shelf course materials

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