A Step-by-Step Guide for Optimizing Sales Training Efforts

By Christie Nelson

A Step-by-Step Guide for Optimizing Sales Training Efforts

Sales training is one of the most important aspects of a Sales Enablement Strategy – and when done right, can be one of the most effective. Use this step-by-step guide to increase the success of your sales training efforts and improve the performance of your sales team.

Step 1: Establish Clear Objectives and Outcomes

Determine what problems you are trying to solve. Establish clear objectives and outcomes of the training.  Document what these objectives are and the outcomes you hope to achieve once the training is complete. Don’t forget to include how you plan on measuring success. There are many occasions when “training” is the answer to the problem and sales enablement practitioners develop and train to a specific topic, but the results fall flat.  When you are asked to train the reps on a certain topic, STOP and ask these questions first:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • How will this affect sales process or methodology?
  • How do you expect the sales reps to change their selling process after the training?
  • What end results are you expecting, i.e. increase in close rate or deal velocity?

Step 2: Create Alignment with Sales Leadership

This is a must! Does sales leadership believe this training will improve the performance of their sales team? If they don’t see the value in the training, they will not be compelled to support it after the event / session. And if sales leadership is asking for the training, make sure you are aligned on the objectives and outcomes of the training. Gain agreement on how your leaders are going to “pull through” the training into everyday interactions. Consider the following questions:

  • Do your sales leaders agree with the objectives and desired outcomes of the training curriculum?
  • Did you train the front-line sales managers prior to the training event?
  • Did you involve the sales managers in the development of the curriculum?
  • What is the role for sales managers in the training event?

Step 3: Engage with your Sales Team

Consider how previous training sessions have been received by reps and engage your sales team while creating the curriculum. Do you have a sales team that consistently has low engagement in training sessions? Do you hear crickets when presenting and attempting to get them to engage? Consider switching up your training medium, and ask everyone to join with their web cam. Another tactic is to get top performers to participate in the development and presentation of the content. Sales reps love to learn from top performing peers. Make sure to take the following questions into consideration:

  • How open is your sales team to training?
  • What engagement level do you have in your training sessions?
  • What is the performance of the sales team?

Step 4: Develop a Coaching Strategy

Now you need to develop a solid coaching strategy that will support your training objectives and the outcomes your sales leadership desires. Without this in place, the training session will be just an event, and you will be relying on the reps to be disciplined in adopting the new learning on their own. Immerse your sales leaders in the outcomes and develop a framework for them to easily coach to this new skill. Also be sure to offer suggestions on how to incorporate learnings into their team meetings and one-on-one sessions.

  • What is the plan for your front-line sales managers to pull through the training objectives in the field?
  • How will you consistently enforce this coaching strategy throughout the year?

Step 5: Monitor your Results

This is how you will measure the effectiveness of the training and thus the success of the program. Develop a cadence of measuring the desired outcomes. Work with your sales leaders on what and how to measure. Once that is defined, set a cadence of reporting the results to the team. Consider stack ranking your sales reps in their adoption of the new skill or material.

  • How are you going to measure the success of the training?
  • How will you share performance measures throughout the year?

Sales Enablement practitioners strive to increase productivity and efficiencies of the sales team they support.  Training sales people is a key pillar to achieving that. Being thoughtful, strategic, and disciplined in your training efforts will result in greater success. Good luck in your sales training endeavors!

Christie Nelson

Christie Nelson has spent 17 years in Sales, Sales Management, and Sales Enablement in both healthcare and software. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Christie is currently the Principal Sale Enablement Manager at SAVO, where she is dedicated to enabling her sales team by increasing their productivity.

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