A key part of developing a successful sales team is using sales training techniques that actually work. But for many B2B organizations, making lasting performance improvements through training is surprisingly difficult.
With that in mind, here are four tested and proven training techniques for sales teams—backed by original research—to help your reps reach peak performance and drive lasting behavior change.
Sales Training Techniques to Improve Your Team’s Performance
1. Flexible Sales Training Formats
A survey of 300 B2B companies revealed that nearly four out of five (79 percent) aren’t training the right number of salespeople on the skills they need each year. The top reason, cited by more than half of the organizations, is pressure on managers not to take their salespeople out of the field.
Live classroom workshops and facilitated training has long been heralded as the gold standard of sales skills training. But with more companies moving to flexible work arrangements, ongoing improvements to mobile technology, and remote selling becoming the norm, sales training methodologies need to start adapting to field demands.
The good news? A recent field trial with Fortune 250 software company identified a flexible model for online sales training that gave reps more confidence and resulted in more pipeline creation, compared to live classroom training.
On-demand, flexible training formats allow you to quickly deploy and scale the training your salespeople need to meet the strategic demands of your organization, without taking them out of the field.
2. Personalized Learning Paths
Despite the best efforts of training organizations, most learning paths follow a broken model. The paths are either determined automatically by role or tenure, which by their nature don’t discern differences in the existing skills of the people forced to follow them. Or, the paths are determined by a manager or sales rep’s intuition around what skills the rep needs to work on—an intuition that often fails, because reps and managers don’t know what they don’t know.
The truth is, those used to be the only available options. But nowadays, you can find performance data about your sales reps in the software they use every day. This performance data can show where salespeople don’t have enough pipeline to hit their numbers. It can indicate those reps who seem to have a lot of deals getting stuck at the proposal stage. And, you can find those salespeople who tend to produce the least profitable deals.
Using this data, you can prioritize and train your salespeople based on these performance indicators and support each of their training needs with a customized plan.
Learn more in our State of the Conversation Report, B2B Sales Training Trends Beyond the Classroom.
3. Recorded Practice Assignments
In a typical classroom setting, salespeople seldom get to practice their newly learned skills in front of others. And if they do have the opportunity, there’s usually little time for personalized feedback and improvement. But requiring reps to record and submit practice assignments ensures every individual reaches a standard of proficiency that just isn’t possible during a live classroom training.
A recent field test found that reps who completed these kinds of practice assignments feel twice as confident when talking to executive decision-makers, compared to reps who went through a classroom training event. Why? It comes down to practice, feedback, and accessible peer examples.
On average, we see reps practice an average of six times before submitting a recorded assignment for review. This means your salespeople are able to practice and refine skills more than if they’re simply giving a single presentation in front of their peers. Practice assignments are then reviewed by trained coaches, who provide individualized feedback for improvement. And the very best peer examples are made available for others to watch and learn from.
Learn more about this approach to online training in our State of the Conversation Report, Can Virtual Training Be Better Than the Classroom?
4. Ongoing Coaching Reinforcement
A live training event will help your reps understand and learn new skills, but you can’t expect your reps to walk away from training and immediately feel comfortable applying the new techniques. Refining and improving on those skills is an ongoing effort that requires effective sales coaching and continuous reinforcement. Otherwise, you run the risk of letting the new information fall by the wayside, allowing your reps revert to old habits, and missing the vital step of applying what you set out to learn in the first place.
To make new behaviors stick, set ongoing goals with your salespeople, so they can practice the new skills after the training. With more practice, individual feedback, and positive reinforcement, your reps will gain the confidence needed to apply what they’ve learned in the field.
Build Lasting Proficiency and Confidence
Behavior change takes time. And salespeople need more than just a single event or workshop to gain proficiency and confidence in their newly learned skills. They need more individualized training paths, flexible learning options, and ongoing coaching and skills reinforcement. Only then will your sales team gain the situational fluency needed to successfully navigate even the most challenging selling conversations.
If you found this article helpful, read our collection of research-backed selling techniques to discover even more ways to improve your team’s performance.
Looking for more research-driven sales strategies? B2B organizations around the world use Corporate Visions’ portfolio of solutions to develop and refine sales skills and sales techniques that are proven to work across the entire customer lifecycle. Contact us to learn more.