Increasing your sales team’s performance is something everyone talks about, however, few leaders implement sales training techniques effectively.
We all know that growing a business is no easy task. All too often, steps are overlooked and the consequences are dramatic.
Don’t worry though, because in this post I cover what you need to know to create a high-performing sales team. Everything from understanding your team, the best training formats, to actual techniques needed to improve sales.
Let’s dive in!
Understand Your Team’s Strengths And Weaknesses.
Before you can improve, you must understand what needs to be improved.
For instance, you can just leverage your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses.From our experience, it is best to understand your weaknesses and to work on improving them.
Another great practice is looking into what sales training techniques your team has implemented in the past, and how they have worked for you.
Important areas to look into are:
1. Can each team member define the value proposition?
If they can’t, you have a problem.
Now, most of the time it is easy to define the value proposition, but to explain it in a simple way?
Not so easy, but a necessity when persuading others.
Go even further and ask each team member why a customer should select your company instead of the competitors or even not taking action. If they are persuasive in this conversation, then they have a good grasp of your value proposition.
2. What areas in your sales process are strong or weak?
Analyze your metrics to dive deep into what is good and bad about your sales process. Which areas are behind? How can you improve them?
Sometimes you just need to readjust the daily activity goals for each rep. But other times it can be a whole lot more.
What are the main KPIs that you use to determine the impact of your sales team? Are they being tracked effectively?
Make sure your team can access these numbers easily, this helps to guide them in the correct direction.
Also knowing which metrics to track will help you.
3. Let your team reflect on their current performance
Literally sit them down and ask what they think about their performance. If there are salespeople with great performance, examine what is working and what they do differently. If a member of the team is lagging, try and determine where the drop off is and address it on a case by case basis.
Maybe they are performed well historically, but are down on motivation because of the current business environment. Make it a task of yours to keep up to speed with the morale of your team, how they feel because motivation is the heartbeat of your sales team.
Oftentimes you can receive better answers when you ask 1 on 1. This way they feel more inclined to speak their mind without the rest of the team judging them.
Knowing Which Format Is Best For Your Team
Some of the previously asked questions will allow you to better understand which areas of sales need to be improved. This leads to the understanding of which type of training format will provide the best results.
Each and every sales team will benefit from sales training in different ways. A small sales team at a startup company will need a significantly different training format than a massive sales team with a well-defined sales process.
With any training option, be careful about taking your team out of the field for too long.
Training can have diminishing returns, especially when learned material is not implemented in the field. We can only retain so much information.
The point is that spending money on training and taking your team out of the field is a costly action.
Pro tip: Ask each team member what they think the best format will be for them.
If you’re curious, look into the best sales training programs.
Some of the most popular training formats are:
This is a very common option since last March.
An advantage is that team members can take online courses at their own pace and on their own time.
Being in-person with the rest of the team is great for building morale. It enables the team to bond and is an exciting experience.
Most of the time you can give specific topics to the host. This way you can have them focus on what your team is weakest on, and needs the most improvement.
6 Sales Training Techniques
1. Use success stories to train and motivate
All humans resonate with storytelling, simply because we live our lives in the form of a story.
All the training in the world may still not provide for any motivation. That’s why having a story to inspire your sales team during training is a must.
These stories should showcase examples of what has worked, what did not work, and what was learned from the experience. The end goal of a success story is to demonstrate how a team went from X to Y, and what they learned.
After you tell the story (or they read it), you’ll want to discuss what happened and give them all actionable steps to implement the techniques covered into their sales process.
One of my favorite stories is how I grew a team of SDRs that lead to 600%+ growth.
This story starts in a small conference room when our CEO told the rest of the company, “As for the SDR team, they are not going to get close to hitting quota this month.“
So here’s the thing, we had a week left in the month and were significantly behind.
Right after he said that I picked my jaw up from the floor and told everyone in the conference room, "Don't count us out. Does it look like we will hit quota? No. Not even close. But what I can tell you is that if ANY team can do it, it’s this one. Do NOT count us out."
The next morning I assembled my SDR team and discussed what had happened the day before.
After a fired-up discussion, we came to one conclusion………..
We were going to make them eat their words.
What happened next was nothing short of amazing.
The entire team was cheering each other on, laughing together, and booking more meetings than we ever thought possible.
We set our record for most meetings booked in a single day. And if that wasn’t enough, the next day we beat the record again!
When the final bell toll at the end of the month, we were only 1 meeting behind. But it didn’t matter! My SDR team celebrated and was so excited that anyone would have thought that we beat our quota by 200%.
All of this came true because we started getting together each morning for 10 minutes.
Needless to say, I now spend the first 10 minutes of every day with my team to inspire them and set up daily activities.
This story both trains and motivates my current team. It is an example of how they can accomplish anything if they want it enough and implement learnings from training while doing so. Hell, just thinking about it gets me fired-up.
Do you see how much more motivating a 10-minute meeting can be to each rep because of this success story?
2. Help your team listen effectively
Active listening is without a doubt the best way for your sales reps to help their prospects.
Most of the time, if a prospect will talk about their problems - your team can use this to their advantage!
Seriously. Listening will help each and every team member to be able to show interest in their prospect’s problems and understand a way to help them. This is a great way to close deals.
I find the best way to get a team to listen effectively, is to have each member focus on one tactic at a time.
I start with 1 on 1 role-play meetings.
With each team member, I instruct them to focus on one tactic during our role-playing.
This forces them to improve each tactic.
Tactics to become an effective listener:
- Look for non-verbal clues to understand how the prospect feels about things
- Repeat what the other person is saying in your own head
- Ask follow-up questions to clarify what the speaker has said
- Do not multitask! (unless you are taking notes)
- Visualize the words that the speaker is saying
- Summarize what they have said
- Maintain eye contact
- Never ever interrupt
- Provide feedback
After I have gone through one tactic individually with each team member, I have them write the 1 tactic down on a piece of paper at their desk. I instruct them to take this one listening tactic and focus on it during ALL of their sales activities for the entire week.
The next week, I have them select a different tactic, and so on.
All too frequently, we get excited about one thing the speaker says, and then miss other important details they say.
We have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.
3. Provide your team with answers to common objections
Coming into a conversation with answers to possible objections is preparation at its finest.
Odds are, there are likely only a handful of objections that prospects express when talking to your company's salespeople.
I recommend providing your team with templates and examples of answers to common objections. Here’s how:
- Have each member of your team write down the common objections they hear.
- Bring your team together and write out bullet point answers on how to overcome each objection. (Be careful not to write out a detailed response because your reps will sound like a robot reading a script)
Each of your team members has had unique experiences with prospects, giving each team member a different perspective.
Coming together as a team and hearing each other’s perspectives allows the team to think outside of the box and contribute toward a great guide moving forward.
This group activity is the best way to create ready-to-go answers for common objections, allowing each and every salesperson to better address the issues prospects have with your offering.
Not to mention, when your reps understand what an ideal answer looks like, they can produce better results.
4. Use games to train your team
Gamifying your training efforts is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your training.
My favorite game to help better my team’s cold-calling efforts is the objection handling game.
The objection handling game:
- Set your team up in a circle (or Zoom).
- Have one team member at a time give an objection while tossing a ball to someone.
- The person who catches the ball must overcome the objection and the cycle continues.
This builds confidence and decreases the time it takes your salespeople to address objections - making them better at cold calling and overcoming objections during the sales cycle.
And if you want to become really good, implement these cold calling tactics.
But don’t limit yourself to just games around cold calling. Another great game is…...
5. Role-playing for experience
What I like to do with any sales team I am working with is to take each salesperson through role-playing exercises.
(I shaped the example below around closing deals, but you should use role-playing to better ALL areas of your sales team’s performance.)
For most role-playing activities, I like to take sales reps 1 on 1.
I act as the prospect who has a few objections and wants to wait to make a decision. (It’s best to use objections that actual prospects have had)
I force the sales rep to use one of these three methods to persuade me to close:
Now or Never: Give a reason why your prospect can benefit from purchasing today. Or give them a reason why they cannot buy tomorrow.
Takeaway: If a prospect is still not ready to commit after you have explained all of the benefits that your offer can help with, take away one of the features with a reduced price.
Question: Ask questions to better understand why the prospect is not ready to commit. Then provide a better opportunity for the prospect.
There are plenty more role-playing tactics for different skills, but this is the best for training salespeople to close more deals.
Practice role-playing steps:
- Focus on just a single tactic at a time
This allows the salesperson to hone in on that one tactic and become more effective with it. Overwhelming your reps with too many goals in a single role-playing session will only waste time.
- Role-play with your salespeople 1 on 1
This forces each salesperson to rely on themselves and not the team.
- Give background for specific role-playing situations
Reps don’t go into sales calls blind, nor should they when role-playing.
Role-playing is a great exercise to train your reps and should be done on a consistent basis.
6. Assign specific homework to each rep
Teaching a rep a specific tactic is great, but making sure they implement it in their sales calls is even better!
So, give each of your sales reps assignments around a specific tactic that you want them to improve on.
Let’s say during some role-playing you had a rep use the “takeaway” closing tactic.
Give your rep the assignment of using the “takeaway” method in the field. Have your reps record their calls to demonstrate that they are actually using this method.
Assignments pressure each rep to actually implement the new tactics into their life.
Great sales assignment examples for your reps:
- Forwarding you emails that demonstrate the rep used a cold emailing tactic
- Recording a call to demonstrate that the rep used a specific calling tactic
It is best to have your assignments relate to the most recent tactics that you taught to the team member.
That’s a wrap!
I sure hope this post helped you to build a high-performing sales team! These sales training techniques have enabled me time and time again to improve the revenue of different sales teams.
But if you’re looking for even more help making your sales team sell more, then reach out to us.