Sales training programs are not the easiest to create, deliver or sustain, especially considering the rapidly evolving corporate and consumer landscapes. A younger and more diverse workforce, as well as a globalized economy, have dramatically impacted the best practices of sales and customer service in a relatively short period of time.
However, businesses can improve their ability to reach, convert and retain new customers despite increased competition and complexity by honing in on sales training basics. Some of the most traditional and simplistic strategies to develop strong professional salespeople continue to be the most effective today.
What to include
Although these training initiatives should be highly customized according to the needs of the business, the preferences of employees who will participate and the amount of budget allocated to the task, several common aspects must always be included.
Here is a list of several basic and more complex functions that needs to be considered when creating a sales training program:
- Alignment: Without cohesion and alignment between the sales training process and corporate objectives, it will be impossible to achieve the desired performance improvements with such investments. By aligning all objectives with specific areas in need of support, businesses will also be able to more efficiently measure returns on investment.
- Breadth: Sales training efforts should not only cater to short-term needs, but should also have comprehension and foresight built in. While retention in this department tends to be more difficult, companies that commit to extensive professional development of all sales staff will be better positioned to decrease employee churn.
- Strategic skills: Communication skills are among the most important for salespeople, though critical thinking and strategic planning acumen weigh heavily on the soft skills. As such, businesses should consider incorporating lessons related to problem-solving and strategy.
- Teamwork: Sales training programs should always ensure that the sales team can accurately articulate value propositions and work as a unit to achieve corporate objectives and financial goals.
- Technology: As technology continues to play a bigger role in sales and client management, employees in these departments will also need instructions on how to use new tools. Many organizations have started to use online eLearning portals to quickly develop salespeople's knowledge of new technology.
Once the broader and more intricate aspects of sales training programs have been ironed out, the business needs to keep up with evaluations and assessments. Long-term performance improvements will only be enjoyed when development initiatives remain relevant and engaging.