As technology advances, consumers have become more enlightened and thirsty for authentic information about products and services. As a result, using traditional sales methods to convert today’s consumers is becoming increasingly difficult. In fact, statistics confirm that sales is getting harder, with most salespersons failing to meet quota.
While pitching still has its place in sales, many top performers concentrate on effective sales training by focusing on building relationships with existing customers and asking them for referrals instead. To succeed in sales today, it pays to identify the good fits and hone your relationship-building skills to get those leads to convert and bring in more referrals.
Traditionally, people are wary of salespeople and marketers. Many consumers still envision them as pushy, annoying, untrustworthy, etc., making it harder for them to get in front of their prospects than half a decade ago. Owing to this challenge, the importance of effective sales training in equipping your team to surmount the obstacles cannot be overemphasized.
What Is Sales Training?
Sales training is a program that empowers salespeople to attain sales success for themselves and their employers. An effective sales training program should equip salespeople with skills to identify sales opportunities, pitch cold leads effectively, nurture them, and close deals while building mutually beneficial long-term relationships. Besides nurturing their selling skills, training motivates sales teams and boosts their job satisfaction.
Benefits of Effective Sales Training
As Avast puts it, trained salespeople = more sales. By training your team, you empower them to overcome the apparent sales obstacles by adopting forward-thinking strategies to continue delivering value for your business. On the same note, it can help you stay competitive, improve the customer experience, and ultimately win more business.
In a nutshell, effective sales training can help you;
- Foster forward-thinking strategies
- Attract top-tier talent
- Create a pool of empowered and engaged employees
- Add value to the company
- Improve the customer experience
- Maximize sales performance
What Should Sales Training Focus on?
Begin by assessing the effectiveness of your current sales before designing your sales training. For instance, you should evaluate your value proposition, sales process, sales performance evaluation methods, etc. Then look at your sales team and consider their strengths and weaknesses and how they fit into your sales structure.
Once you have figured out your sales structure, strengths, and weaknesses, it becomes easier to customize sales training to meet your specific needs. According to Indeed’s career guide, here are some of the essential things the training should cover.
- Building rapport and maintaining customer relationships
- Refining listening skills
- Dealing with objections and rejections
- Assessing competition and industry trends
- Developing and asking specific questions to articulate your value proposition
- Boosting social media presence
- Identifying and prioritizing good leads
- Understanding the basics of cold pitching and calling and practicing sales pitches and presentations
- Collaborating with different personalities
- Understanding how to close a sale
Generally, a sales training program should equip your sales team with proven selling strategies to increase their effectiveness in closing new leads and establishing solid customer relationships for long-term success.
How Recent World Events Have Impacted Sales
When the pandemic hit us a couple of years ago, there was so much uncertainty for businesses and the economy as lockdowns ensued. However, the setbacks became a blessing in disguise for the e-commerce industry, especially retail trade.
According to reports, U.S. e-commerce witnessed a 43% increase, rising to $815.4 billion from $571.2 billion in 2019. However, some sectors within retail, as with many other industries, didn’t experience the boom. For instance, the clothing and clothing accessories stores, electronics and appliance stores, gasoline stations, furniture and home furnishings stores, etc., were some of the most affected players.
Even with the return to normalcy in 2021 and 2022, the fortunes of digital sales continue to soar. In fact, a survey by McKinsey & Company highlighted some sales-boosting consumer trends such as revved up spending and shattering of brand loyalty which started in 2020 as consumers shifted shopping behaviors.
Given the changing trends, it’s imperative to re-align your training to ensure it accommodates today’s changing preferences.
Measuring Sales Performance
As with any business function, measuring sales performance is essential. However, you need to look beyond metrics and examine the process. Undoubtedly, metrics are still crucial – be it lead generation, sales productivity, average deal size, etc. But to measure the true success of your sales team, you should look beyond the quotas. This is because someone can meet their quota and still be underperforming.
Examples of non-quota metrics to focus on may include;
- Number of customer touchpoints
- Pipeline, e.g., total customers, profit per month or account, newly acquired logos
- Average response time to customer requests
- Time spent listening to customers
- Consistency of attainment
- Time spent selling
- Lead response time
- Deal process
What Skills Should You Focus on?
Often the most critical skills are overlooked in sales training. You should identify those skills gaps and train your sales team based on their needs. Some good examples of the skills to focus on include;
- How to be a driver – If ‘ambitious, optimistic, and competitive’ does not describe some of your team members, meaning they don’t have a natural drive, you can equip them with the skill through training. For instance, you could train them to be assertive, communicate directly, and be problem-solvers.
- Effective communication – A salesperson should be an excellent communicator to sell effectively–they should master key skills in the four quadrants of human connection, such as:
- Audience perception – Trustiworthiness, confidence, and authenticity
- Visual delivery – Eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures
- Message content – Storytelling, persuasion, and clarity
- Vocal delivery – Tone & emotion, pitch, articulation, and use of pauses
- Digital sales – Digital space provides a ripe opportunity for salespersons to stage promotional campaigns and convert leads easily. The training should cover the basics of digital selling, such as advertising, creating content, social media strategies, and building a network.
- Relationship building – As mentioned earlier, building relationships with customers is crucial to successful selling. Your training program should equip them with the skill to empower them to connect with customers, build trust, and nurture rewarding relationships.
- Creating engaging presentations – A sales training program should train your team to develop and deliver engaging presentations. According to Science of People, examples of subskills they should learn include structure, delivery, presentation design, and stage presence.
- Time management – This is another skill you should focus on training your sales team. To succeed in sales, they must be diligent time managers, including prioritizing tasks, setting deadlines, and tracking time.
- Problem-solving – Besides closing deals, your sales team should be proficient problem solvers. As customers seek your products or services to resolve their problems, equipping the sales team with this skill empowers them to craft pitches that appeal to the relevant customers by addressing their pain points.
- Collaborating – According to HubSpot, as much as each team member may have their quota, sales is a team effort, and collaborating helps create a smooth process. As such, you should train them to hone their collaboration skills.
- Active listening – Learning the skill of active listening is immensely beneficial. For example, a salesperson who is an active listener can clearly understand what the customer is saying, thereby creating a sense of connection.
- Adaptability – Finally, you should equip your team with the skill of adapting to different situations that may arise during their duties. They should be flexible and ready to respond to challenges and opportunities appropriately.
How Can Salespersons Build Stronger Relationships with Prospects?
Building strong customer relationships is essential for a successful sales process. Statistics show that acquiring new customers costs five times more than retaining an existing customer. By building strong relationships, your team can easily upsell or cross-sell customers, closing more sales without necessarily reaching out to new customers. On the same note, loyal customers refer others, consequently expanding your customer base.
Here are some tips to help your sales team build stronger relationships with prospects.
- Build rapport and cultivate trust
- Understand what the customers value and personalize the interaction
- Establish a communication structure
- Have an onboarding process
- Be empathetic rather than defensive
- Share your concerns early
Generally, establishing long-term customer relationships requires a holistic approach, balancing traditional selling strategies and soft skills (trustworthiness, clarity, tone and emotion, and so forth) to cultivate their trust and create an overall positive customer experience.
Enhance Your Training with Quantified AI and Empower Your Sales Reps to Win
Effective training is the secret to a motivated sales team that can navigate prejudices and bring a constant flow of qualified leads. To start empowering your team to win more customers and increase conversions, try Quantified’s AI-powered coaching.
Quantified captures communications, analyzes behaviors, and provides unbiased feedback and insights for personalized and effective coaching. When you use Quantified to deliver your sales training, you can automate the process of analyzing your team members’ skill sets and provide them with immediate feedback, potentially driving skill improvement up to 28% in a year.
Overall, Quantified can help you;
- Identify and replicate winning behaviors
- Capture and analyze performance at scale
- Optimize selling behaviors
- Upskill your team with experiential learning
- Onboard new reps faster
Ready to take the plunge? Request a demo to see how you can empower your salespeople to harness their potential and reach peak performance levels.