Summary: If you haven’t created a sales training program, you may not be getting the best out of your sales team. While certain personality traits can make somebody a natural for sales, that’s not enough. Access to sales training and development helps salespeople better overcome the challenges they face on the job. Selling ability is as much of a learned skill as it is inherent.
Here's our proven 10-step process for developing a successful sales training program:
- Step 1: Define sales training objectives
- Step 2: Create learning objectives for salespeople
- Step 3: Identify possible sales training challenges
- Step 4: Determine the most effective sales training method
- Step 5: Use modern sales training technology
- Step 6: Build out sales training content
- Step 7: Develop sales training assessments
- Step 8: Deliver the sales training program
- Step 9: Collect and analyze training feedback
- Step 10: Refine the sales training process
Step 1: Define sales training objectives
For any training program to succeed, you'll first need to define clear training objectives. If you can’t identify what salespeople need to learn, you can’t develop an effective sales training program or measure its success.
You have to gather information on your current sales team's needs such as the required skills and knowledge for them to do their jobs effectively and how they align to business goals.
Then, identify the shortcomings between those goals and the skills of each sales team member through a skill gap analysis. After that, you can select or create the curriculum that will drive success.
As long as you have done your research and have a clear understanding of the needs of each sales team member, you should be able to create your list of sales training objectives.
Step 2: Create learning objectives for salespeople
Learning objectives will help you better communicate your expectations to participants, assess their mastery after training, and ensure that they can apply what they have learned.
Here are some learning objectives you might create for your sales objection training. Trainees will be able to:
- Ask appropriate questions and better understand customer objections
- Identify when an objection is due to a lack of information
- Reframe objections as needs, then communicate how they will be addressed
- Create genuine rapport with customers
- Differentiate between genuine complaints and excuses
- Master techniques to predict and address objections proactively
- The transition from customer objections to product benefits
- Increase the rate at which objections are overcome and lead to approvals
The sales learning objectives you create will help you identify how to approach the training process.
Step 3: Identify possible sales training challenges
What are the major challenges to your sales training program? If you can articulate these clearly, you may take some steps to mitigate them.
You'll need to account for all the possible roadblocks you, your trainees, and instructors can come across during the sales training process. Then figure out the solutions to each challenge. That way you can create and deliver effective sales training no matter what comes your way.
For example, trainers frequently encounter struggles with scheduling and logistics. They may be trying to deliver training to remote sales teams, working with sales professionals who travel, or live and work in various time zones. By identifying this potential roadblock, they can design the training to work around it.
Step 4: Determine the most effective sales training method
Which sales training methodologies are most appropriate, will help trainers be as effective as possible, and ensure that trainees achieve their learning goals? Ideally, you will choose the best methodology for the subject matter, the needs of the trainees, and available resources.
Some of the most common training methodologies include:
- Self-directed learning
- Instructor-led training (ILT)
- On-the-job training
- Group discussion
- Case studies
You may find that it helps to combine a few different methodologies to deliver sales training. This will allow you to better accommodate differences in learning styles and support employees who may not access training that you provide using one methodology.
Step 5: Use modern sales training technology
How will you use technology to implement the training methodologies you select?
For example, it may not be possible to deliver instructor-led training in person. You may need to incorporate a sales training tool (like Continu) so that workers may be able to participate via Zoom or other communication software.
You may also need to select and implement a learning management system that helps training participants access training as well as track their progress.
Step 6: Build out sales training content
To provide sales training in any format, you have to have a curriculum to deliver. Depending on your specific sales training needs, you might create that in-house, bring in a professional sales trainer, purchase sales training software, or choose a hybrid solution.
If you do choose to create your curriculum in-house, there are resources available to help you with instructional design.
You can use these instructional models to build your sales training curriculum within an organized framework. The ADDIE model of instructional design is one of the most popular frameworks for providing business training.
This is another part of the sales training development process where technology can be a real lifesaver. Training professionals can use a tool such as Continu to create training materials that they can deliver in a variety of formats.
Additionally, a quality learning management tool will include a course authoring model. It also provides a centralized location where you can store course materials and other learning assets.
Step 7: Develop sales training assessments
Creating the assessments you need to determine whether your training is effective can be challenging. You will want to assess understanding at various stages for most sales training courses.
These assessments and criteria include:
- Trainees understand the delivered material during the sales training process
- Testing overall mastery immediately after training
- Evaluating retention after trainees have returned to work
It’s helpful to have a plan that you will implement if you aren’t getting the results you want from your assessments.
Making improvements to your sales training program is a critical part of keeping your sales team motivated, engaged, and successful.
Step 8: Deliver the sales training program
Once you’ve taken all of the steps here, you can deliver the sales training program you’ve built. Depending on the scope of that training and costs, you might decide to offer training to a smaller subset of your sales team.
Offering training to smaller subsets will give you the opportunity to “beta test” your training before investing in the resources required to implement training across the organization.
Then, once you've calculated the ROI of this training program you can deliver the training to the intended salespeople.
BONUS: Make sales training resources available 24/7
This is the part of the sales training development process that is not necessarily linear. Successful sales team members need access to educational resources outside of instructional settings.
Making these knowledge-based items available in a centralized location empowers workers to pursue the education and information they need to become better salespeople.
These resources might include self-directed learning modules, wikis, best practices, frequently asked questions, case studies, policy manuals, and procedure documents.
Step 9: Collect and analyze training feedback
Even if your trainees pass their assessments with flying colors, it’s important that you collect meaningful feedback about the sales training.
Here, your goal is to learn more about the experiences trainees have had, their suggestions for improvement, and whether they perceive the training they received helped them achieve their sales goals.
Many organizations use the Kirkpatrick Model for instructional design evaluation. This evaluation methodology evaluates the impacts of training at four distinct levels:
- Reaction to the training
- The amount and quality of learning that took place
- Behavior changes (i.e., determining whether the training led to changes in relevant behaviors)
- Results (i.e., did the sales training lead to changes that helped the organization?)
In addition to involving trainees in these evaluations, it is often helpful to get feedback from managers, customer service reps, and even customers to see if they notice positive outcomes or not.
Step 10: Refine the sales training process
Developing sales training is an ongoing process. You’ll have to refine it based on the outcomes of your assessments and evaluations.
Additionally, you may have to change sales training over time as your organizational goals shift. You’ll also want to change your program when you offer new products or begin to target new customer groups.
This includes tweaking learning content, adding mixed media like training videos, and using feedback to improve the overall learning experience.
Measuring the effects of your sales training program
Here are the steps to take to measure the impact of your sales training initiative:
- Identify key training and development metrics
- Establish a baseline such as closed leads in an average month
- Set a reasonable goal for improvement
- Measure for improvement after training and in the future
Ideally, the measurements you collect will show that your sales team is improving satisfactorily.
Sales training program FAQs
What is a sales training program?
A sales training program is a course designed for sales employees to build and improve the necessary skills to be effective salespeople. This course can be training videos on sales techniques, product knowledge resources, slides, presentations, and exercises on practicing sales calls through role-playing.
Why is a sales training program important?
Sales training programs are important because it provides salespeople with the necessary techniques, skills, and information they need to close deals and generate revenue.
What is a sales training plan?
A sales training plan outlines the strategic approach to developing sales teams' skills and knowledge. It typically includes identifying training needs, setting objectives, selecting appropriate training methods, creating a training curriculum, scheduling sessions, and assessing the effectiveness of the training. A well-designed sales training plan aims to enhance sales techniques, product knowledge, customer engagement, and overall sales performance.
What is a sales training process?
The sales training process includes needs assessment, content development, training sessions, role-playing, coaching, performance evaluation, and reinforcement. It aims to enhance sales techniques, product knowledge, communication, and customer relationship-building skills for improved sales team effectiveness.
How do you measure a sales training program?
Measuring a sales training program requires a modern learning management system that doubles as an employee training tracking tool. By capturing feedback and assessment scores from trainees after they've completed the program, you can directly measure the impact that sales training initiatives had on their job performance.
Who should deliver the sales training program?
Sales training can be delivered by a variety of professionals in and outside of your company. Depending on the type and format of training, you might choose the corporate trainers within your company, sales team managers, experienced sales staff, or professionals from outside firms.
Build meaningful sales training programs with an LMS
Successful sales training programs often look very different from one organization to the next.
However, there is usually one element in common. Companies have successful sales teams with reliable tools to drive training and development.
When you combine the power of a modern learning management system (like Continu) with your understanding of your sales team’s needs, you can create training that is virtually unbeatable.