To stay competitive in today’s B2B environment, you need an effective sales training program with a clear ROI. But you can’t equip your sales team with the skills and strategies they need to excel if you’re using outdated training techniques.
Although U.S. companies are spending approximately $20 billion per year on sales training — an average of $1,459 per salesperson — those training programs often yield low to no improvements in revenue.
The results are clear: Using yesterday’s sales training methods could lead to a lot of wasted time, money, and effort. If you want a different result, you need a new approach.
In this article, you’ll learn about the latest cutting-edge sales training trends, and find out how you can use them to empower your team and drive long-lasting results.
The biggest trends affecting sales training
Here are a few of the key trends currently shaping sales training, and how they might be impacting your organization.
Advancements in technology
Emerging technologies continue to revolutionize how sales teams engage with clients and close deals. These include:
- Sales enablement platforms
- AI-powered analytics
- Integrated CRM systems
The right tech solutions can help you streamline selling processes and deliver valuable insights for making data-driven decisions. It’s essential to incorporate these tools into your sales training programs to ensure your team is well-equipped to leverage them effectively.
Remote work and distributed teams
The rise of remote selling has created a new landscape for sales training. With teams becoming increasingly distributed, it’s vital to develop training programs that can accommodate remote employees and foster a sense of unity. This may include leveraging advanced collaboration tools to create interactive and engaging training experiences that bridge the distance.
Data-driven decision making
Sales teams now have access to a wealth of data to inform their strategies, from customer behavior patterns to market trends. As a result, data-driven decision-making has become a key factor in creating effective training programs.
Encourage your sales team to use data insights to make informed choices and tailor their approach to each client. Incorporate data analysis skills into your training programs so your salespeople can capitalize on these valuable insights.
Increased focus on personalization and customization
Customers today expect personalized experiences, and your sales team should be prepared for that. During training, reps should learn how to personalize content and experiences based on customers’ needs and preferences.
Similarly, you should also tailor training programs to each sales rep’s individual strengths and weaknesses, so you can maximize their potential. Consider incorporating personalized learning paths to make training more effective and relevant for each team member.
The downside of traditional sales training
Traditional sales training often involves lengthy, in-person, classroom-based learning where sales reps passively absorb information. Studies have shown that this type of training is not particularly effective. Gartner research indicates that B2B sales reps will forget 80% of the information they learn within a week of a training session.
Using a one-size-fits-all approach is also ineffective. Traditional training programs often deliver standardized content to all participants, regardless of their prior knowledge, strengths, or weaknesses. This can lead to disengagement and training that doesn’t stick.
Many businesses also rely on periodic training sessions delivered only at annual conferences, team meetings, or onboarding sessions. This inconsistent scheduling can result in knowledge gaps and reduced retention.
Building an effective, modern sales training program
It’s time to leave outdated sales training methods behind and embrace the future.
Let’s take a look at some groundbreaking training approaches that can transform your sales training and empower your reps.
Replace lengthy, time-consuming sessions with bite-sized lessons
Instead of relying on traditional classroom-based or online learning, consider offering bite-sized, easily-digestible, in-the-moment lessons that trainees can access on demand.
Microlearning — a training method comprised of small, interactive, easily-searchable lessons that speak to a more immediate relevance — has been shown to improve focus and produce 50% better knowledge retention than traditional e-learning tools.
This approach is a better fit for busy sales teams because it allows reps to squeeze in training when it’s convenient, and learn at their own pace. By incorporating microlearning into your sales training programs, you’ll promote retention and encourage reps to immediately apply their training to real-world situations.
To keep microlearning engaging, use a mix of formats like videos, articles, quizzes, and interactive activities. This will cater to different learning preferences and encourage active participation.
Make sales education relevant and practical
Most salespeople dread uncomfortable, unrealistic role-playing exercises during training sessions. Despite the fact that these exercises often don’t represent real-world scenarios, they continue to be a mainstay during many sales training sessions.
Why not pivot to something that works better?
Contextual training emphasizes real-world examples and simulations, so sales reps get practical experience tackling unique challenges they’ll actually encounter when talking to customers. This approach not only improves knowledge transfer and retention, but also helps you create a cohesive team that shares a common understanding of what success looks like — and how to achieve it.
With Pitcher’s just-in-time (JIT) training, you can deliver learning materials when they are most needed and relevant. JIT training is particularly advantageous for sales teams, as it aligns the learning process with real-world scenarios, so sales reps can apply their knowledge to practical situations right away. JIT training also increases information retention and can help you eliminate awkward role-playing exercises that sales reps dread.
Banish one-size-fits-all training with customized training plans
It’s not just customers that are demanding personalized experiences in today’s B2B world — sales reps need them, too!
Modern sales teams can leverage data from their CRM, performance reviews, and other sources to create personalized training paths that address each sales rep’s strengths and weaknesses. This boosts motivation and engagement while maximizing each rep’s individual potential.
You can also empower your sales team to take ownership of their professional development by engaging in self-assessment and reflection activities. This fosters a growth mindset and helps them identify areas for improvement.
Use data to boost sales performance
With sales enablement solutions, you can harness the power of data to design transformative training programs for your team.
Sales enablement platforms like Pitcher provide valuable insights into the performance, strengths, and weaknesses of your sales reps. You can use sales enablement to collect and analyze data from multiple sources like CRM systems, customer interactions, and sales rep performance metrics. With these insights, you can identify knowledge gaps, skill deficiencies, and areas where your reps need additional training.
Using a sales enablement platform, you can track the progress and performance of your sales reps as they undergo training, which gives you real-time feedback and enables continuous improvement. Sales managers can use enablement to monitor rep competencies and ensure they are implementing the skills they learn during training, and incorporating those skills during conversations with buyers.
Taking a data-driven approach to training helps make informed decisions about the learning materials and strategies that work best for your team, so your sales training program remains relevant, engaging, and effective.
Take an innovative approach to sales training to get better results
Creating effective sales training programs requires constant adaptation and innovation. To equip your reps with the best possible selling skills, it’s critical to stay on top of the latest sales trends and use innovative approaches to training.
By adopting microlearning, contextual training, customized training, and a data-driven approach to development, you’ll be able to unlock each sales rep’s full potential and drive revenue for your organization.
To learn more about how to optimize your sales training, download our free whitepaper, How Sellers Learn Best. This valuable resource will give you practical strategies for transforming your sales training to give your reps an edge in today’s competitive marketplace.