Training your sales team is an investment with a clear ROI – but only if your training initiatives measurably improve sales performance. With post-pandemic changes and constant marketplace disruptions, is your sales training still getting results?
B2B customer preferences are continuing to shift from in-person interactions to digital channels. According to Gartner, B2B buyers are now spending only 17% of their entire purchasing journey with sales reps, and 44% of B2B millennial customers prefer no sales rep interaction at all.
Sales training needs a revamp to fit these new realities of selling.
It’s also a massive opportunity to improve training effectiveness. Gartner research indicates that B2B reps will forget 70% of the information they learn within a week of sales training – and 87% will forget what they’ve learned within a month.
By supplementing (or replacing) outdated sales training with new tools and techniques, you can empower reps to learn and improve continuously.
Here are 10 ways to boost performance with better sales training, built for the way modern sales teams work and learn.
1. Strengthen soft skills for consultative selling
With more of the buying process happening online, without direct involvement from a sales rep, it’s more important than ever for sales reps to become trusted advisors.
B2B buyers are put off by aggressive sales tactics. When they do interact with sales reps, they are choosing to deal with sellers who listen, understand their needs, and guide them to the best solution.
This approach is called consultative selling. Instead of jumping straight into pitching products, it’s a customer-centric strategy that requires a deep understanding of the customer’s pain points.
Emphasize empathy and listening skills in your sales training, so reps can craft personalized pitches that meet customers’ specific requirements. Teach them to ask questions, do their research, and listen closely to prospects before recommending specific products.
It may be a longer-term approach, but consultative sales techniques allow reps to truly add value for modern customers.
2. Boost conversions and productivity with guided selling
As the buying journey continues to evolve away from meetings and phone calls, personalized digital content is essential – sales teams need to know how to leverage it.
Guided selling is an AI-driven sales approach that uses data like sales records, market trends, and customer behavior to help salespeople provide personalized content and product recommendations.
You can boost productivity by making it easy for sales reps to send up-to-date, compliant digital materials that are a perfect fit for each particular customer. It reduces time spent on tracking down and customizing materials, so reps can focus on revenue-generating activities.
Training sales teams to use guided selling also improves conversions with less decision-making required of individual reps. Machine learning adapts to buyer preferences, history, and stages in the buying journey to make sure the most effective content is delivered at the right time.
AI-based training is on the rise as companies look to provide the outstanding digital experiences buyers demand. Gartner predicts that 75% of B2B sales organizations will augment traditional sales methods with guided selling solutions by 2025.
Build guided selling into your sales training and ensure sales reps know how to use recommendations and best practices to connect with buyers and drive conversions.
3. Offer data-driven, individualized sales coaching
If you are already applying insights from sales data to develop training materials – are you looking deep enough? Take full advantage of sales tech stack data to offer individualized coaching – developing reps’ strengths and identifying opportunities for growth.
Determine which selling activities are most valuable for conversions (e.g. phone calls, virtual meetings, and emails), and how well individual sales reps are performing those tasks.
Effective sales coaching is an ongoing effort, and it works best when reps have a personalized path to improve performance. Use each rep’s individual performing data for high-value tasks to help them evaluate their performance, identify areas for improvement, and set appropriate goals.
4. Modernize your sales playbooks
Most sales training already includes resources like scripts and sales plays – but you can make these basics much more effective with the right tools.
Instead of simply asking reps to study sales plays, make them accessible and useful to reps on the job. Organize the collective wisdom and proven tactics of your entire sales team into an easy-to-implement digital format.
Modern sales playbooks compile all the resources reps need to connect with buyers in one place. All buyer personas, scripts, custom sales plays, email templates, product pitches, presentations, and more should be up-to-date and easy to follow.
This will drastically improve the onboarding and training experience for new reps, while boosting productivity and training effectiveness across the board.
5. Build reps’ virtual selling skills
Even though today’s B2B buyers show a strong preference for virtual interactions, only 23% of B2B sales reps feel they are equally effective at selling virtually as they are in face-to-face, on-site settings.
Include training on meeting prospects using video calls, interacting via virtual channels, and delivering online demos.
This process is drastically improved when you equip your salespeople with the best possible remote sales tools and equipment. Top-quality microphones, cameras, and conferencing platforms are essential, but digital sales rooms take virtual selling to the next level.
Digital sales rooms are centralized, secure microsites where reps and buyers can access content throughout the buying journey. Training reps to use this powerful tool helps them deliver relevant assets quickly, while they build relationships more effectively through virtual channels.
6. Enable micro-training
When your sales reps learn large amounts of information all at one time – as they would in a traditional lengthy training course – their knowledge retention naturally degrades over time, particularly if they’re not using the information every day.
Microlearning, or breaking up learning into small chunks, can improve productivity by increasing knowledge retention.
Build real-time microlearning into your training strategy by offering sales reps just-in-time information that is relevant to the customer they’re working with.
For example, you can build microcopy prompts – short, contextual messages to help users learn – into your sales enablement tools.
Also consider offering short, focused videos designed to meet specific learning outcomes. This helps reps find the exact information they need without having to wade through a long training video to find a specific learning takeaway.
7. Personalize training for each sales role
Your team most likely includes a number of different sales roles, so it’s important to train your reps with strategies that are relevant to their responsibilities.
For example, sales reps who make cold calls need training on handling rejections and getting around gatekeepers, while lead generation professionals may need support around communicating effectively via online channels.
Account managers also need to know how to find opportunities to upsell products or services, as well as effectively onboard new clients.
Marketing professionals are also a critical part of your sales team. Provide sales training to marketing team members to help them understand the sales process, so your departments can collaborate and work together to achieve better results.
8. Listen in on recorded sales calls or sales meetings
Listening to call or meeting recordings can be a critical piece of your sales team training. When your reps listen to real conversations with customers, they can stay current with changing buyer needs and adapt their sales approach appropriately.
You can use recorded calls or meetings as a way to create scripts to deal with objections, and develop a playbook for handling similar conversations effectively.
Don’t just listen to winning calls, though – your reps can also learn a lot from failures and missed opportunities.
9. Provide multiple formats for training
There are many styles of learning, and you must ensure all your reps can gain access to training and benefit equally from the information you share.
Provide multiple options for learning, instead of sticking to a single format, like sending an entire sales team to a large group training.
Online training is convenient and accessible at different times and on multiple devices, and the training can also be self-paced to fit even the busiest of schedules. Videos, email newsletters, and podcasts are also great ways to deliver information in small, manageable bites.
In-field training allows sales reps the opportunity to get feedback on their sales calls or face-to-face meetings. They can apply what they learn during in-person or online training, and sales leaders will be able to observe their interactions with prospects and share insights on how reps can improve their performance.
10. Implement a sales enablement solution
Sales enablement solutions capture information about the content top sellers share during the sales process, so sales leaders can spot trends and identify best practices.
Top-performing content can be automatically collected and shared across your sales organization. The AI-enabled recommendation engine of your sales enablement platform can serve up the best content or offers to use in various selling scenarios.
Effective sales training provides reps with the information they need, when they need it. With Pitcher’s sales enablement tools, you can empower continuous learning, leveraging expert seller knowledge to improve the performance of your entire team.
Get more strategies for effective sales training
You can use these 10 best practices for sales team training to help you drive business growth, onboard new reps faster, and engage with team members to help them thrive.
For a deep dive into the research behind modern sales training – and the tech solutions that can help you train a top-performing sales team, download our ebook.
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