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Every year, usually at the sales kickoff meeting, a sales organization will provide training. If they provided negotiation training last year, this year they might focus on discovery. There are several reasons to use a different approach, especially if you want to improve your win rates. Not every salesperson needs training on discovery, even though there is nothing wrong with a refresher. Other people may need training in another topic more.

Let’s imagine there are 12 major topics a salesperson must master. Training one topic a year will have your sales force being provided the training they need at the end of 12 years. That is, if they are still selling for you. The following list of competencies make up a modern sales approach, so if you haven’t touched on some of these, it might mean you are using an older, outdated approach.

  1. Value creation strategies
  2. Information disparity
  3. Building insights
  4. Executive briefing
  5. Consultative prospecting
  6. Gaining commitments
  7. Resolving concerns
  8. Advanced discovery
  9. Professional differentiation
  10. Building consensus
  11. Presentation and proposals
  12. Negotiation

We call this list, the Revenue Growth Blueprint. We could easily add a set of eight sales techniques you could add to this list.

  1. Time management
  2. Intrinsic motivation
  3. Emotional intelligence
  4. Goal setting
  5. Business acumen
  6. Building relationships
  7. Handling uncertainty
  8. Communication

This brings us to 20 areas of improvement. One training day a year will mean that each salesperson will have had 20 birthdays before they are provided with the sales training and development they need. It also means that the sales organization will not have a sales force using its full potential.

A sales leader might look at this list and believe their sales force knows how to sell, but a peek at win rates and quota attainment might suggest that there is latent potential not being unleashed. Every sales organization has the potential, yet few will provide the sales training, a development plan, and the coaching that salespeople want from their sales managers.

What to Do With a Year

You can constantly improve your results. You have 52 weeks in a year and 20 topics you need to master over that time. To succeed, you will need to address the topics in a way that doesn’t take your sales force out of the field for long periods. You also need to do this in a way that is affordable.

One way to improve your sales force’s effectiveness is to train one competency at a time by providing a short training module and require your sales force to practice it for two weeks, with sales managers holding them accountable for executing what they learned.

The key to better sales results is not training. Instead, it is the behavioral changes in how salespeople sell. It might take two weeks to dial in a new behavior. Even if it takes four or eight weeks to acquire the skill and the competency, that is much faster than training one topic a year.

This approach also allows you to prioritize the competencies based on what your sales team needs to hit their sales targets. Because some people need a skill that others have mastered, you can build cohorts based on what individuals need to improve their win rates. Later, you can return the cohort to the larger group of your sales force.

Too Fast or Too Slow

You can go too fast, blasting through the content. An approach that is too fast will all but ensure the sales force won’t be able to execute the behavioral changes. One group tried to train five concepts in a week, only to discover no one executed the topics.

It is possible you can train too slow, the best example of which is a single training each year, something we describe as checkbox training. A sales force constantly improving their ability to win deals will improve net new revenue and achieve their goals.

You don’t want to go too fast or too slow. Give yourself and your team the time they need to master a skill set or some important character trait, like discipline or optimism. What’s most important is the salesperson’s ability to execute in the field.

The Need for a Development Plan

When surveys show win rate averages of 17 percent, and quota attainment at 27 percent, there is more than enough evidence that sales organizations need to rethink sales enablement and training. It would be difficult to hit the humblest of goals with these numbers.

By using a competency model to assess your sales force and as individuals, you can identify your priorities and start providing guidance on who needs coaching and in what area they need help. While you are assessing your sales force and designing a program that will improve your results, most of your competitors are not doing anything to improve their sales force’s win rate.

Development and the improvement in sales effectiveness will provide you with a sustainable strategic advantage. This should be every sales leader’s number-one priority. Should you take advantage of the opportunity to build an effective sales force, know that many of your competitors are pursuing transactional approaches that lead to buyers looking for a different level of help.

How Long to Train Your Sales Force

If you want better sales results, you need better sales results from your team. Your buyers need your team to help them by creating value in the sales conversation and providing a sales experience that causes the client to prefer to buy from your salespeople.

Better salespeople with better skills leads to better sales results, greater win rates, higher quota attainment, better and more desirable clients, and better retention of the sales force. It also means you have increased your ability to achieve your sales goals and sales objectives.

If you need help and a competency model, contact us here and pick up a copy of Leading Growth: The Proven Formula for Consistently Increasing Revenue.


Post by Anthony Iannarino on September 15, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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