Sales training is useless. At least that’s a common myth we’ve heard from salespeople who have experienced outdated and ineffective sales training. It’s safe to say that sales training gets a bad rap. The common complaints are that it’s a waste of time and it doesn’t deliver lasting results. Is this really true? Unfortunately, for a lot of sales training courses, it is.
Let me paint a picture for you: You’re ready to get started with work for the day… only to arrive and learn that today is the day of the annual Sales Seminar. And so, instead of knocking out items on your to-do list, you trudge down to the conference room to listen to a speaker for several hours.
When you return to your desk after the training session… do you change your behavior, or do you just get back to work using the methods you’ve always used? Has there been any valuable competency transfer?
We’ve all seen the ways sales training courses don’t work, but what about the ones that do? I promise you, they exist! Let’s take a look at eight types of sales training courses that will actually deliver lasting results to your team.
Effective Types of Sales Training Courses
Before we dive into the specifics of my list of the most effective sales training courses, let’s talk a little about delivery methods.
RELATED READING: Why Check Box Sales Training Doesn’t Work
In our example above, we’re referencing an in-person training seminar, but this is far from the only type of training course offered on the market today. Sales training courses are typically delivered in 4 formats:
- In-Person Seminar
- Online On-Demand
- Live Web Training
- A combination of the above three formats
Which of these formats is optimum for delivering lasting results? We could easily prosecute every form of sales training listed above and we could just as easily defend any and all of the choices. We believe deeply that all of the different formats are valuable for different reasons, making a carefully considered blend of the three formats to be the most effective.
The best experience of sales training is in-person, but only if you have a way to support the behavioral changes over time—otherwise, your training is doomed to fail. Online on-demand training provides the sales force with the content they need, when they need it, while also allowing different people to take different courses based on their needs. Virtual live training provides a great experience while also reducing the cost by eliminating travel expenses, something that works for sales organizations with salespeople who live in their territory.
We find that the best way to deliver is to combine as many of these choices as possible, and we built our Sales Accelerator to do just that.
The first type of sales training course you’ll need to pursue is mindset training. When we’re discussing mindset training, the most important thing is to help your team become resilient self-starters. In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, I spent the first half of the book describing the mindset necessary to succeed in sales. The very nature of sales requires that one possess a certain set of beliefs and behaviors.
Another aspect of mindset training is building thick skin and making your team immune to rejection. Salespeople need to understand that they are not being rejected. Instead, their prospective client is rejecting a request for a meeting. When they lose a deal, it’s because the client believes someone else is a better fit for that initiative.
Help your team think on their feet quickly to advance a sale. The mindset required to advance a sale is that the salesperson needs to create enough value in a meeting that they can obtain the next meeting by promising their contacts they will create even greater value.
Mindset training can also help salespeople create meaningful connections through conversation. It is more important than ever that salespeople be “other-oriented,” making certain the conversation is one that is designed to help the client understand their world, their challenges, and the opportunities that would improve their results.
Develop a culture of accountability in your organization. Chapter 11 of The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need ends the section on mindset by explaining why salespeople must be accountable for their results–and the results they promised their clients.
Fundamental Sales Skills Training
Another effective sales training course will center around fundamental sales skills training. One key skill is learning to establish weekly planning skills. No one should start their week by looking through their inbox, looking for their priorities, as they won’t be found there. You should never start your week without a plan, even if you have to adjust the plan on the fly.
This type of sales training course will also teach the philosophy of selling. What is critically important and often missing from training is a philosophy of sales, something like “Selling isn’t something you do to someone; it’s something you do with someone and for someone.” It’s an other-oriented endeavor built on helping people and companies improve their results.
Establish methods of understanding the numbers to help meet quotas. Salespeople who understand their numbers are more likely to hit their targets. Knowing how the math plays out provides a blueprint for goal attainment.
You can use fundamental sales skills training courses to walk through the sales process. Even though we now recognize that the sales process is now nonlinear, there is still every reason to break the stages down and understand where you are in the conversation and be agile enough to pivot when necessary.
Lastly, a fundamental sales skills course will lay out the basics of a buying cycle. For decades we believed the buying cycle started when a client became “dissatisfied.” We now know that people and companies often live with a status quo that no longer serves them, making it important to start the cycle by helping them recognize they can address their challenges and improve their results.
Above the Funnel Skills Training
In above the funnel sales skills training courses, your salespeople will learn how to identify important targets and prospects. Starting your prospecting and outreach with a territory and account plan allows you and your salespeople to identify the companies most likely to buy what you sell, ensuring you don’t waste time on companies that are not going to be a fit for what you sell.
This type of training course helps sales professionals learn to nurture relationships and lay the groundwork for amazing partnerships. The reason we like prospecting sequences is that they allow the salesperson to provide touchpoints designed to nurture relationships over time, creating the kind of value that positions the salesperson as someone who might be able to help them improve their results.
Help salespeople learn how to inspire commitments from prospects by offering prospecting training courses. There is only one reason decision-makers say no to a meeting request: The pitch didn’t convey the idea that the meeting is going to be valuable for the client. Not a lot of people want to listen to a salesperson provide them with a history lesson on their company and their “solutions.”
This type of training also helps to build on cold calling basics. Because we have so many channels to communicate with our clients, we can vary our approach, going beyond cold calls using social channels, video messaging, and a host of other mediums that lead to new meetings and new opportunities.
Your prospecting training courses will help establish rules of thumb for targeting, research, methods, and cadence. In other words, your salespeople will learn how much prospecting is enough and more!
With discovery training courses you can establish the importance of planning a sales call before getting on the phone or a face-to-face meeting. When a prospect agrees to give you the gift of their time, the last thing you should do is waste that time. By planning your sales call ahead of time, you make certain you are prepared with a meeting agenda that you believe will be valuable to your client. By creating value in the first meeting, you massively increase your chances of gaining a second meeting.
This type of training teaches methods for in-depth, effective discovery and diagnosis. Few salespeople need to be told to find their prospective client’s problems, pain points, and hot buttons. Now, however, it’s important that the salesperson teaches the client something, allowing them to discover something themselves. The best discovery will cause the client to realize the root cause of their problems, not the superficial presenting problem.
RELATED READING: Improving Your Discovery Call
Your team can learn sample language and scripts for propelling a conversation forward. There is good and effective language and not-so-good and ineffective language. When there are already strong choices available, ensuring your team can effectively use those talk tracks improves their ability to move the sales forward.
If you want to be an incredible salesperson, you’ll need to learn incredible presentation skills. The “why us” that most sales organizations use is all played out. The best presentations start with “why change,” followed by the client's desired “future state,” followed by the changes the client needs to make to improve their results. The last two pieces include the investment and “why us,” as a way to explain what the sales organization will do to ensure the client achieved their goals.
Presentation training courses will help your team understand that the best presentation meeting is a dialogue. No one wants to be dragged through 90 slides in 90 minutes. The whole presentation should be a conversation.
You can also provide tools for salespeople to use in providing proof of value to prospects. One of the ways you help clients resolve their concerns is by providing them with proof providers, including testimonials, references, ROI analysis, or something else that would address a client’s concerns.
If you want to prevent your salespeople from offering discounts as a default to close, you’ll need to offer negotiation training. The best way to avoid discounting later is to believe and behave as if the negotiation starts in the first meeting by explaining how your slightly higher price improves your client’s results. By starting early, you give yourself the time to justify your higher price by explaining how it is necessary for the results the client needs.
Negotiation training helps sales professionals learn how to close deals without using tricks or losing client trust. In The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments that Drive Sales, the Commitment to Decide is the ninth commitment. If you have created value for your prospective client throughout the sales conversation, there is no reason to do anything other than ask the client to sign a contract so you and your team can get started. Don’t use any close out of a book that is decades old.
If you want to establish leadership and coaching skills in your team members, you’ll want to offer advanced selling training courses. Our view is that development is a process, and training is only part of that process. The growth of the sales force and the individuals that make up that force require “development,” including good leadership and good coaching.
Advanced selling courses help sales staff learn how to strategize for account management. One of the keys to revenue growth is to create net new opportunities for your existing clients. The best retention strategy is a growth strategy.
This type of training teaches staff how to be flexible with necessary change and growth. There has never been a better time to create a sales force with the agility that would allow them to adjust to their circumstances and address whatever comes their way.
The Sales Accelerator: A Sales Training Course That Actually Works
The key to sales training courses that actually get results is that they cannot be one-off training sessions. Hiring a speaker to come into your office for a day-long seminar is not enough to move the needle. In order to make real change in your organization and your sales team, you’ll need consistent training that is customized to your team’s challenges, works to change culture as well as leveling up skills, and provides real-world usability and value to your team.
The Sales Accelerator offers sales training courses that go beyond checkbox training. Check out the Sales Accelerator for Sales Managers and Teams to see how we can help your team meet even the most aggressive sales targets.