Optimize remote sales team training. Uncover effective strategies to equip your team with the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to excel from anywhere.
You've been working hard to build and expand your remote sales team. Now everyone's hired, and it's time to train them. If your sales team has gone remote, by mandate or by choice, you're joining the thousands of companies facing the challenge of training remote teams this year. Many businesses have taken their sales teams remote to reduce costs and relieve some of the burdens of having too many in-house resources. Other companies believe it will help them focus on product development or other mission-critical elements.
With the right team and a good sales enablement strategy, you'll quickly see positive results. However, those results depend heavily on your training.
When you start to think about training your remote sales team, it's important to remember you have a team full of skilled salespeople. While this is true, there are still learning gaps that you must fill in. If you train them successfully, your team will have everything it needs to get the job done. A well-trained team will share knowledge, nail down processes, and hit goals with little oversight. This guide will go over what you need to cover to train your remote sales team effectively.
Why is Training Your Remote Sales Team So Important?
Even though your remote team should come with top-tier sales capabilities, there are still things you need to teach them. After all, they may know how to generate leads and close sales, but they're not yet familiar with your product, mission, and processes.
When you design a training program for your remote sales team, you're providing them with the tools they need to achieve their best results. As you create that training, focus on critical goals.
Start with training objectives
There are two reasons to create training objectives. For starters, objectives help you keep your course focused on your goals and desired outcomes and help you develop criteria. Additionally, when you have clear goals, you can communicate those to your trainees. Crystal clear communication will keep everyone on the same page and help you avoid missteps. It will also empower your team members to know what is going on and take the initiative as they progress through their training.
Every objective you establish should include the competency you want each trainee to achieve, how you'll measure that competency, and how they will apply that skill in the future.
10 Benefits of Virtual Training for Your Sales Team
In one sense, traditionalists are correct. Sales trainees benefit from walking through various scenarios and interactions in real-time. However, when you consider some of the benefits of virtual training, it's clear that taking your training online is a winning choice.
1. Virtual sales training fits multiple learning styles
For training to be efficient, it must work for every participant. That can be challenging when trainees may have different learning styles. Unfortunately, there are limited ways to accommodate learning differences in live training. However, you can much more easily customize virtual training to reach various learners.
Incorporating videos and graphics can help visual learners, and recorded instruction will also help auditory learners.
Even kinesthetic learners can benefit from virtual training. Since learners can go through training at their own pace, they can take frequent movement breaks and work in the environment most conducive to their learning style.
2. Virtual training instruction is more thorough
Virtual sales training allows learners to take a deeper dive into essential subjects and learn things more thoroughly. For example, trainees commonly work through exercises and assessments multiple times before submitting their work.
This extra practice helps them understand the subject matter better, especially when compared to classroom training, where time constraints limit how long participants can spend on a particular activity.
3. It's easier to scale and customize online training
You can scale virtual sales instruction to train as few or as many people at once as you need, and you can use it to train people in multiple locations at once. That's not something you can do with classroom training or even job shadowing.
Your team can also customize virtual sales training to meet ever-changing needs, strategies, and organizational goals—this flexibility comes from creating online training in modules.
Each module can be combined with other modules to create the training you need at any point in time. This approach is instrumental in organizations with large or distributed sales teams with varying training needs.
4. Progress tracking is automated
How do you know if one of your sales team members has finished a live training seminar? You may be able to confirm attendance and completion, but other details may be more challenging for you to verify.
For example, you'd have to dig through classroom papers to determine whether they completed assignments or see the results of any assessments they completed. Managers can log on and check anything they want with a virtual learning platform. They can view trainees' progress through the training they've been assigned.
Trainees also benefit from this. When sales training is part of an overall professional development plan, team members will naturally want to track their progress. This tracking will help them see how much progress they're making and map out future courses they wish to take.
5. Learners incorporate information quickly in virtual training
Combining practical training with a proven online learning management platform can create engaging activities and drive fast results. One of the most beneficial features of virtual sales training is incorporating video.
Video has been proven to be exceptionally engaging and can help trainees learn concepts faster. Video also leads to improved retention. This improvement is likely because visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than words.
Virtual sales training is also particularly effective with Millennials and Zoomers. This advantage stems from the fact that you can incorporate corporate features into virtual learning that help keep people engaged.
Some of these advantages are gamification features, like avatars, scores, leaderboards, levels, badges, certifications, and other elements that you may also see in gaming. These elements motivate and engage adult learners while increasing retention.
Virtual learning is also social learning. A great learning platform will allow you to incorporate chat, file sharing, screen sharing, and other features that let learners get feedback from one another.
Micro assessments are a great advantage to virtual sales training when it comes to feedback. Instructors and managers can check the information they receive from these assessments to provide meaningful and timely feedback while trainees are still learning. This way, instructors can incorporate the results as quickly as possible.
6. Virtual sales training is cost-effective
Virtually sales training is undeniably more cost-effective than live training. When you take the training online, you eliminate the need for a live instructor each time the training is delivered.
There are also no travel and lodging costs associated with online sales training and no need to print out deliverables. You also eliminate the need to reserve classroom or auditorium space in most instances.
If you use a third party for live sales training, they may charge a fee for each trainee. That means your costs go up as more people decide to attend. There are no limits to virtual training. You can even retain access to all materials for as long as you need them.
Finally, it's essential to consider the impact of lost opportunity. When sales professionals are pulled into live training sessions, they aren't on the phone or in the field. They could be missing out on potential leads and other opportunities to convert customers.
7. Virtual sales training offers built-in flexibility
Live sales training does have some potential for flexibility. For example, video conferencing can allow trainees to attend training sessions remotely. However, that approach is limited. Also, the impact of live training often goes down when trainees aren't present in the classroom.
One of the benefits of virtual training is that it's flexible by design. There are so many possible delivery configurations that online training platforms can meet any training need. Here are just a few examples:
- The right platform can deliver virtual training on multiple devices
- Training is available to everyone who needs it
- There are no time zone restrictions for virtual training
- Self-guided training allows trainees can skip over or repeat modules
- Online training may be taken independently or in groups
Thanks to this flexibility, sales professionals can pursue training in ways that work for them. This freedom will increase overall participation in many cases. More importantly, it helps sales teams incorporate valuable training in ways that aren't disruptive to their daily activities and workflow.
8. Assignments are self-paced
"Sorry, folks! We're out of time. Hopefully, everyone has picked up a few things that will help them reach their goals!"
That's an unfortunately common way to end live sales training sessions. The sad fact is that there is seldom enough time for every participant in an in-person environment to complete every assignment or participate in every activity.
Worse, at times, the strongest personalities in the classroom tend to dominate engagement with the instructor. Alternatively, the trainer may monopolize instruction time with one or two participants who struggle with an activity or concept.
The result is that employees often leave these sessions feeling as if the training didn't address their needs. This upset becomes even more frustrating when managers presume that everyone who attended received the same quality of instruction and assessment.
Trainees may not have gotten the instruction they needed to improve, and then management expects them to perform as if they have. Virtual training eliminates this obstacle.
9. Instructors handpick the best examples
Imagine sitting in a sales training classroom. You are watching different groups of trainees play out different scenarios and interactions with one another. Of course, you want to take notes to learn as much as possible.
Unfortunately, many role-playing activities are mediocre at best. Perhaps they are just not relevant.
This confusion is one of the weak points of live sales training. Employees sit through activities and examples that may not be of any help to them. That isn't the case with virtual training.
When training happens online, you can design and refine it to perfectly meet the needs of the people attending. For example, trainers can handpick video examples of cold-calling methods they know will resonate with their teams.
Additionally, virtual training materials can be improved and refined over time, adding and removing instructions and examples to create a better product.
10. It's easier to revisit virtual sales training
Live sales training ends when the session is over. Yes, attendees may have some handouts or guides, but they have no dynamic resources to use in the future. Essentially, they walk away with what they were able to retain during the classroom session or seminar.
One of the key benefits of virtual sales training is that so many more resources are available to trainees, even after they complete the course. This access significantly increases sales training ROI.
For example, if a sales professional wants to refresh their knowledge of a particular technique, they can simply watch the relevant video until they feel confident in their understanding.
Additionally, sales managers can review assessment data and sales performance metrics and then decide whether any of their team members need to be "recycled" through any virtual training they received. This overview helps ensure sales teams are at peak performance at all times.
Sales Training Goal 1: Understanding the Customer
Nobody can sell effectively without understanding who they're selling to. Your remote sales team won't understand your target customer from the start. It's up to you to teach them about your target audience's demographics, values, needs, and pain points.
Fortunately, you should be able to build your training around the resources you already have. To understand and convey the details of your target customer, you can use:
- Customer personas
- Customer journey maps
- CRM data
Build your sales training information around these assets to help your remote team deeply know and understand your customers.
Sales Training Goal 2: Learning the Product
Your remote sales team will need to answer a wide range of questions about your products and services. They'll also need to fluently demonstrate the product to help move customers through the sales funnel. A great product sales training program can go a long way. Just make sure it addresses:
- Product features and benefits
- Common questions
- Challenges and roadblocks
- Case studies
Without this training, even the most skilled sales professionals won't have the tools to succeed.
Sales Training Goal 3: Understanding Sales Processes
If you choose a hybrid approach to your sales team, you'll want to educate your remote team members about your current sales processes and methodologies. Even if they decide to use their expertise to make adjustments, they should know how your sales process unfolds. Your training should include:
- How you generate leads
- What steps you take to qualify prospects
- Methods and best practices for following up on leads
- How to nurture existing accounts
- Moving customers through the sales process
- The methodology used to upsell and cross-sell products
Finally, don't forget about the tools you use to communicate, collaborate, and automate processes. Tools are only as effective as the person using them, so set your team up for success by making sure they understand the suite available to them.
Eventually, you could refine this training until you have a robust sales enablement program. Creating a program like this will help everyone inside and outside your organization work to the best of their ability while ensuring better continuity, retention, and profit.
Sales Outsourcing Goal 4: Setting Goals and KPIs
If you don't have clear sales goals and KPIs, there's no way to hold your sales team accountable for their performance. More importantly, you can't effectively measure their progress towards those goals, and neither can they.
Where should you start? Chances are you'll want your initial training to focus on bringing the remote sales team up to speed. Begin by introducing them to your current sales goals and the KPIs you are using to measure progress. If you haven't already, you'll need to have those goals and KPIs in writing and communicate them clearly to a team of individuals who are entirely new to your sales team and methodologies.
Conclude every training course or Learning Track with an assessment that effectively measures each participant's progress. Then you can measure each team member's mastery of the topics you have covered. These assessments should relate directly back to your training objectives.
Build a knowledge base
If you haven't created one already, this is the perfect time to review all of your existing knowledge assets and work towards creating a knowledge base. It would help if you made this guide available to sales team members to have the information and resources to apply best practices and proven processes.
- Training videos
- Product demonstration videos
- Guidelines and procedures docs
- Manuals for using tools and software for sales and customer support
Remember that the best knowledge base will always be a work in progress. As you create yours, make sure to establish procedures for updating it with valuable new information.
It's important to foster close collaboration between your remote teams and departments. Otherwise, you may undermine any benefits you get from taking your sales team remote. For example, you may need to change some of your processes to align with what will work best for your existing teams. This may require company-wide training in those new processes.
For instance, if your sales team can't fully use the leads generated by your marketing team, that's wasted time and money. Consider designing some of your training to use blended learning as a way to accommodate cross-functional departments. This will get everyone on the same page and working together as a team.
Make the Best Framework for a Successful Remote Sales Training Initiative
It's well worth the effort to create a sales training program that helps your remote team understand your customers, product, sales process, and goals. However, the overall success of this training will depend very much on your ability to deliver it effectively. To do that, you must choose a proven learning platform.
The best learning management software will allow you to:
- Easily create courses and learning tracks
- Support both in-person and virtual learning
- Provide tools for creating practical assessments
- Allow you to create a comprehensive knowledge base for remote, hybrid and in-person teams
- Include multimedia tools and support
- Enable document storage and sharing
Fortunately, you don't have to go far to find the platform you need to support your remote sales training. With the right resources, training, and enablement, your team can completely transform your sales funnel.
Are You Ready to Get Started with Online Sales Training?
Now that you've seen just a few of the benefits of adopting virtual training for your sales team, are you ready to make the jump? Ask yourself the following questions, which will give you important insights into whether your team is prepared to adopt virtual training to increase your sales effectiveness.
Is Your Current Sales Training Engaging?
Are your sales team members eager to take part in the training you offer? Are they reporting back good results or learning strategies that they can apply on a daily basis?
When training isn't engaging or rewarding, it feels like one more obligation. If your current system doesn't seem relevant or interesting to your team, it may be time for an upgrade.
Can You Easily Customize and Improve Your Current Sales Training?
What if one of your sales managers came to you with a new training need, or you realized that some of your examples and scenarios were outdated? Could you quickly add and remove new training materials and coursework? These things are much easier to do with online training than classroom or hybrid training.
Are You Offering Training Materials that Reflect Current Methods and Messaging?
Training manuals often have scenarios that are outdated and irrelevant. Additionally, if it hasn't been updated in quite some time, your instructional material could lack diversity and be culturally insensitive.
Review your current training materials within the context of your current organizational values. Then, determine how much effort it will be to update those materials. If that seems like an intensive effort, think about having to do the same thing again in a few years.
Can Your Sales Team Access Training Materials and Assets on Demand?
When you deliver sales training virtually, you provide easy online access to videos, written materials, graphics, frequently asked questions, guides, and more. Even better, that access isn't limited by time or location. You can make that information available on-demand to anyone who would benefit from it.
Your answers to these questions should help you better understand how your current training delivery methods are working for you. More importantly, they can provide you with insights to help you determine your readiness to switch to virtual sales training.