Almost three-quarters of Americans consider themselves lifelong learners. Still, in most sales teams, the words “training initiative” elicit groans rather than excitement. Why is that? Maybe you’re just not selecting the right sales training topics for your team.
Imagine this: You are an entry-level sales professional. You’re already behind on your call numbers for the month and you learn you’re going to be dragged away from your desk to sit through a two-hour training PowerPoint presentation in the conference room. Of those two hours, you feel like maybe 15 to 30 minutes apply to your job duties, and you can’t see how the rest of the topics connect.
You wouldn’t exactly be excited for the opportunity to attend this training, would you? To get your staff engaged and excited about sales training, you need to cover relevant topics with applicable examples they can use in their day-to-day life on the job.
When you develop a sales training initiative, you’re going to want to include these subjects. Let’s go over my top seven sales training topics for teams.
Selecting Sales Training Topics For Your Team
When designing a sales training program, it’s tempting to select targeted training for specific problems. For example, if your cold calling numbers are low, you might be tempted to book a speaker to come in and talk about cold calling specifically. That’s a great step, but if that’s your entire training initiative, it can be a lot like taking an aspirin for a broken leg: It might take the edge off, but it’s not going to fix your problem.
For training to be valuable for your sales force, it needs to be practical, tactical, and actionable. For this to be true, the training needs to speak to the problems, challenges, and obstacles that prevent the sales force from being able to produce the outcomes they need. In short, it must be relevant.
Relevance isn’t enough by itself. Your training must also be credible. As a speaker, I often get to see other speakers, the motivational types that have climbed mountains or accomplished something incredible. But when they try to teach the sales force some lesson as it applies to sales, they falter. Salespeople know if someone teaching or training them has ever “carried a bag.” They need to have worked and succeeded in sales to provide strategies and tactics and talk tracks. The lack of talk tracks is a dead giveaway the training isn’t going to resonate.
The right mindset is vital to the sales professional. Why is that? While a positive, optimistic, empowered mindset is important for anyone, I doubt the accounting leader has to talk to their people about rejection or recovering after transposing two numbers on a spreadsheet. Because salespeople are required to lead their clients, their attitude is a variable when it comes to sales success. They need to be positive, optimistic and empowered.
In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, the second chapter is on Optimism. You should cover the need to maintain a positive attitude, something enabled by framing experiences in a way that removes their power to cause a poor mindset. The client doesn’t reject the salesperson; they reject the value proposition for a meeting or a deal. Losses should be treated like losing a game, as you can continue to play after a loss.
The best way to teach mindset is to model it and to help your team to put things in perspective. You want a team with an indomitable mindset, one that enables them to succeed.
2. Basics & Fundamentals
Regardless of how experienced your sales staff is, you should always target basics and sales fundamentals in your training program.
In our program, Sales Accelerator, we find two different categories of salespeople. The first category is made up of relatively new salespeople. This group immediately searches out “advanced concepts.” The second category is experienced salespeople. This group goes right to fundamentals, knowing that their success is found in executing the fundamentals.
You might start by training your team to plan their week, plan their sales calls, make a cold call, resolve a client’s concerns, ask for commitments, present and tell a story, do good discovery, negotiate, and acquire business acumen.
The best way to teach these things is to use a workshop approach where the individuals on your team have to do the work and practice. By having your team experience what they need to master, you speed their competency.
3. Nurturing & Targeting
In B2B sales, it’s common to pursue large clients that are working with one of your competitors. These companies are the best targets for your team, but they are not going to change just because a salesperson makes a phone call. Instead, your team needs to nurture the contacts within that company, helping them understand why they might need to change. Nurturing these contacts allows the salesforce to be professionally persistent over time.
When training on nurturing and targeting, you should cover the need to persist, to stay top of mind, to always provide something of value to the contact in every interaction, and most of all, to help them understand why they must change.
The best way to teach this is to have your team do the work of building their own nurture sequence, one that will require them to discover what content might help them persist until they gain a meeting and an opportunity to displace your competitor.
Prospecting is vital to train because you can never close a deal that wasn’t first opened. We describe this as the primacy of prospecting. No one generates net new revenue or new logos without prospecting. The lifeblood of a sales organization is opportunities, something that requires salespeople to reach out to their prospects, gain a meeting, and engage in a conversation that leads to an opportunity.
When training how to prospect, you should cover how to make a cold call. How to deal with objections to a meeting. How to craft an email. How to leave a voicemail. How to craft a prospecting sequence. How to trade enough value to command a meeting. How to manage their time.
The best way to teach people to prospect is to role-play the different conversations, providing them with confidence and competence. After that, the best learning comes from experience. You can also improve results by providing scripts.
There may not be anyone in the sales improvement industry that doesn’t believe that you win or lose deals in discovery. This is true because this stage of the sales conversation provides the greatest opportunity to create differentiated value for the client. When the conversation doesn’t help the client understand their world in the nature of their poor results, it isn’t likely they will buy from the salesperson.
RELATED READ: Weak and Strong Discovery Signals
Because we focus on the strategies and tactics that work in the current environment, the sales force needs an insight-based approach that not only allows them to learn from their prospective clients but also teaches the client something that is valuable to their decision-making and their future results.
How can you teach sales teams to crush their discovery process? You would do well to use a guide to the conversation with talk tracks that are proven to create value for the client. This is also rich territory for role-playing.
One of the most critical skills of any salesperson is the ability to tell stories and present. But the current sales environment isn’t friendly to the idea of being dragged through 18 slides about the salesperson’s company. Instead, they have to be able to present an executive briefing, an understanding of the client’s current state, their future state, and what changes they need to make to improve their results.
When training your team in presentation skills, you should cover how to build a presentation, how to communicate ideas, how to measure the value of the message, and how to read a room.
The best way to teach presentation skills is to require each person to practice using a real presentation they will deliver to a client.
Your team can expect their prospective clients to ask them to “sharpen their pencil.” Most salespeople, however, don’t negotiate with their clients. Instead, they negotiate the concession with their sales manager. They would do better to negotiate with the client.
In negotiation training, cover how to ask for something valuable in trade for any price reduction, how to set an anchor, how to maintain control of their emotions, how to address whether or not they have been chosen before negotiating, and how to negotiate only once.
There are ten primary strategies for negotiating in B2B sales. You need to first teach your team to understand the strategies, many of which need to be deployed before the negotiation even starts. You should require your team to prepare for negotiations, using case studies.
Sales Training Topics for Massive Success
Targeted, standalone sales training sessions can only get you so far. To turn your sales team into a motivated group of talented, confident professionals ready to close any deal, you’ll need to take a holistic approach to sales training, focusing on all seven of these areas with regular training sessions, reinforcement, coaching, and more.
I intentionally devised the Sales Accelerator to cover all of these topics and subjects. When you work with me and my team, you’ll get a tailored sales training program guaranteed to shift your team’s mindset and give you all the tools you need to hit even the most aggressive of sales targets. Get started by joining the Sales Accelerator today.