8 years ago
April 13, 2016

Sales Management: A Guide to Training Salespeople

Training sales people is an integral task that should be an ongoing occurrence in all sales departments.

Rhys Metler

Training sales people is an integral task that should be an ongoing occurrence in all sales departments. However, all too often sales training is deferred due to time constraints, lack of availability, and other reasons. Yet sales managers should be aware that more and more, sales people making a career change are looking for better training and mentoring opportunities. Don’t let a lack of training be a drag on your sales team’s productivity; learn from these tips to guide training for your sales people.

Make Training More Than a Lecture

It is all too easy to rely on training materials and PowerPoint presentations to train your sales people. However, most sales people learn best by doing and applying information themselves rather than assimilating written materials. Learn to engage your sales people in interactive training for better results.

  • Invite participation wherever possible. Participation can be as simple as going around the room for feedback. For instance, if you discuss a sales approach, you can ask your sales people how this approach has worked for them, or for examples of situations in which it can be used.
  • Make time for group work. Group work is sometimes cut from training because it takes additional time, but giving your sales people directed time to apply the training can be more effective than giving training alone.
  • Pay attention to verbal and nonverbal feedback. When training is occurring, make sure you are paying attention to your sales people and looking for verbal as well as nonverbal cues to gage how engaged they are with the material. Even a quick break during training can help sales people who are beginning to tune out re-engage.

Invest in Peer Training

Peer training can be beneficial for you, your sales people, and the sales team as a whole. For one, peer training frequently saves time and cost over large group seminars or even small group meetings that you lead as a sales manager. For another, sales people may find it easier to engage with one another and the material being shared in a peer to peer format, which makes assimilating the training easier. Think about investing in peer training for your sales people in the following situations:

  • New sales person onboarding. Peer training for new sales staff can not only be effective, but a major draw for top sales talent.
  • Cross training. If your sales people take the divide and conquer route to sales, it is crucial that all of your sales people know how to perform the different tasks that need to be performed. Think about asking your top sales people in a given area cross-train others on a regular basis.
  • Minor responsibility shifts. Making time to train promising talent is often easier said than done. Consider having your senior sales people train promising new talent on more advanced sales concepts and techniques to free time and keep your sales people moving forward.

Don’t Neglect Training on the Mechanics of Sales

You might assume that your sales people have an innate understanding of the mechanics of sales, but this might not be the case. It is true that many top sales people exhibit behaviors that demonstrate this understanding, but in a surprising number of sales people this is because of an instinctive grasp of sales rather than a more academic understanding. If you want to train your sales people on advanced principles, make sure that they understand the mechanics first. Mechanics answer questions like:

  • Why does this approach work?
  • When is one type of approach better than another?
  • How can this information be used?
  • How do clients make buying decisions?

Even refresher training on these basics can be extraordinarily helpful to your sales people and their performance, since it gets sales people to think analytically about the decisions they are making out in the field. This can help your sales people make the most of their training and find success.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.