This blog has been updated with the latest sales information and to incorporate recent trends and best practices in sales.
Chances are, your sales team could be performing better.
A combination of information-savvy customers and outdated selling techniques has inhibited the effectiveness of many sales teams. In a healthy and efficient sales team, you should have 80% of sales employees hitting their quota. But in 2022 that only 55% to 65% of sales reps hit their quota, and even that number may be inflated.
Not only that, but sales have changed significantly in recent years. More sales are handled remotely, and buyers' expectations have changed. Simply put, many sales teams aren't ready to face the new market reality, and they're struggling to adapt.
The good news is, there is a solution that is almost guaranteed to make a difference: effective sales training.
Where sales training goes wrong
Generally, for every dollar a company spends in training, it receives about $4.53 in return — a 353% ROI. If you’ve implemented programs in the past that have fallen short of these ideal numbers, it may be due to these common sales training shortcomings:
- Outdated methods – Most customers complete 50% – 90% of the buying process without engaging with a salesperson and many complete purchases online without interacting with another human being at all. In this environment, traditional sales tactics simply don’t work. There are some sales philosophies that stand the test of time but they need to be augmented with tactics developed for the digital age.
- Lack of practical application – Adult learners remember about 20% of what they hear, 40% of what they read, and 80% of what they do. We all know what happens when plans meet reality, but many sales training sessions provide knowledge in a vacuum without giving participants the opportunity to test their knowledge in life-like scenarios.
- Lack of follow up – New sales habits are not easy to develop. After new concepts are introduced, they need to be consistently reinforced in order to truly become part of your sales team’s routine. Make sure your training is an always-on effort with regular coaching, monthly formal training, weekly check-ins, and programs that reward success.
4 steps to better sales training
Designing an effective sales training program really boils down to one question: Does it create long-term change in the behavior of the salespeople?
Training is a smart investment and critical to the success of your business. Follow these steps to make sure your sales training is effective for your team and supports your business goals.
- Evaluate your current sales situation
Simply looking at sales numbers doesn’t offer enough insight on where training is needed most. Sales enablement tools provide information about every step of your selling process including conversion rates, sales funnel leaks, frequency of follow-ups, daily behaviors, communication tactics, and much more. This information gathering period could also include a survey of your team and their clients to discover what strategies are resonating with them. Once you have an accurate picture of your team in the present, you can develop your goals for the future.
- Tailor the training to your business
Whether you’re developing training in-house or partnering with a training agency, it is important to take into account your industry, your competition, your business, and your people. Relevance is critical. Sales reps already spend too little time selling, so if you’re pulling them out of the field for training, the content should be tailored, engaging, and immediately applicable. It’s not just about disseminating information on the latest sales techniques, it’s about helping sales reps to understand how and why they should put that information to work in their everyday lives.
- Incorporate skills application
The end of the PowerPoint presentation should be just the beginning of the sales training. Skills development requires active engagement by learners and this is especially true for sales reps. The job of sales is to talk to people, so that’s what they should be doing — practicing their pitches and working on their newly acquired selling skills. This may require some individuals to step outside their comfort zones with activities like quizzes, discussions, and role-playing scenarios, but the results will be worth it.
- Provide continual reinforcement and accountability
Sales mastery is not a destination, but an ongoing journey. That’s why it’s important to make training an integrated part of your company culture. Ongoing training requires a commitment from coaches, managers and leadership to keep skills sharp and to keep reps from falling back into their old routines. Make sure to touch base with reps on a regular basis to ensure the new skills are being applied and to offer additional training if not.
An investment in your people is one of the most important investments your business can make. Make sure your sales people are reaching their full potential by providing the training they need to improve their skills and exceed their quotas.