Making sales training stick
In our last blog, Customer retention is king, we shared with you some hints and tips in relation to keeping those hard earned customers long term and the impacts it can have on your business.
We briefly touched on customer service training and the direct correlation between that and customer service. We all understand that well trained staff are successful staff, but when it comes to sales people in particular, it can seem really hard to make sales training stick.
You spend a fortune on the latest training with vendors and sales gurus, which have a positive impact on your sales team for a few days or weeks, but then the renewed energy seems to fizzle out and your sales team falls back into the same routine with the same old habits. Sound familiar?
So how do you make sales training stick?
First let’s look at why it doesn’t stick.
In a 2015 study, only 24.4 percent of sales managers who responded had a formal coaching programme they were expected to use. Almost half (45.8 percent) said they spent less than 30 minutes per week, per rep coaching.
Throughout my blogs I have harped on about the importance of customer engagement and personalisation, and the fact that it needs to be consistent and ongoing. The truth is that this is equally as important when it comes to your sales staff. Too often businesses assume that by sending their sales team on a sales skills course, they will all be permanently reinvented as the best sales people ever and they will no longer have bad habits or a skill set deficiency. The truth is that changing your team’s selling skills for the better is an ongoing investment in the processes and the team. It is not a single event!
The reality is that if you want improved sales performance, then traditional training on its own isn’t going to cut the mustard. That is because when it comes to changing people’s attitudes and behaviours, sales training too often misses the mark.
Think of the last training course that you attended – how much of it did you immediately apply at your work? More important still, how much of it were you still applying one, two, or three months later?
Below are some of the key tips to help your sales training stick permanently:
- Hire people who are coachable, open to change and willing to train – We have all had that one person who thinks they know it all and aren’t willing to learn. The truth is that these individuals can be like rot – they will grow throughout your team and bring others down with them
- Avoid marathon training sessions – We all know that generally sales people have extremely short attention spans. Most of them just want to get on with their job and earn money, that’s why they are in sales. So spending hours in a classroom will not work. Think about it… did you spend the whole day doing your GCSE maths exam? No, it was done in manageable bitesize chunks.
- Continuous reinforcement is critical – Think about it, if you want to lose half a stone, you wouldn’t diet for a day and visit the gym once to get the results. You would keep having short regular visits until you reach your goal, and then you would keep going further to maintain it.
- Real Life, Real results – Sales people naturally don’t respect anyone who hasn’t walked a mile in their shoes. If you are going to deploy training, make sure the trainer is someone who understands what it is like to do the job and has real life experience. Your reps will then naturally believe that what the trainer is training works.
- Accountability – If you don’t reinforce the systems and processes learned and make the reps accountable, then your sales team will just put it away, never to be used again. Sales people work best when something is measured and there is a consequence for non-performance, so be sure to incorporate the results you expect to see as a result of the training into their targets.