Salespeople like to joke that sales training is like Teflon. Why? Because it never sticks. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tactics for getting employees motivated and engaged in sales training and for making sure what they learn actually sticks.
Make Sure They Want to Change
The No. 1 reason training programs fail is because salespeople refuse to embrace them. They attend classes and feign interest for one simple reason: It could be held against them if they don’t. If salespeople aren’t motivated to improve performance, your training programs are destined to fail. You must carefully evaluate the true intentions of your salespeople before engaging in costly training efforts. The first step is honesty. If salespeople are honest about their intentions and what they hope to achieve, training classes can be a catalyst for real change.
Adapt to Your Sales Culture
Taking a cookie-cutter approach to sales training is a recipe for disaster. The training has to resonate with employees and it has to be applicable to their day-to-day work. That’s why it’s important to tailor training exercises to fit the culture of the sales team. Try customizing training to each person by focusing on their individual weak areas and leveraging their strengths. Also, encourage your team to brainstorm ways that training could be applied to their unique situations and distinct work styles.
Practice What You Preach
Most sales training programs happen in a classroom. But unfortunately they never seem to make it out of the classroom and into the real world. That’s because salespeople aren’t given a chance to practice what they learn. Sending employees to a course that teaches them to improve sales through better communication is great. But if salespeople are under constant pressure to make endless cold calls, they’ll never have a chance to put that new skill to work.
Have a Long-Term Mindset
You must take a long-term approach to sales training, otherwise salespeople will likely slip back into old habits. This means taking the time to develop a strategic training program based on detailed analysis, such as what customers are buying, how their industries are evolving, and where your own sales gaps and missed forecasts are appearing. There really are no shortcuts when it comes to creating and implementing an effective sales training program.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
People learn through repetition; it’s that simple. But most sales training programs don’t fully incorporate repetition into the learning process. Instead, sales managers send their people to a one-day seminar or workshop and expect to see immediate results, without bothering to invest in reinforcement or follow-up.
Research shows that people exposed to new information will retain 50 percent after 24 hours, 25 percent after 48 hours, and just 2 percent after 16 days. So how do you make your training investment pay off? You need constant reinforcement and repetition, including exercises and activities that will enhance the learning experience. By scheduling ongoing training sessions that range from 15 minutes to one hour each, you’ll soon see a dramatic improvement in the ability of your salespeople to retain what they’ve learned.