How to Build an Engaging Sales Training

June 6, 2024

The 10 commandments you should apply to really get things off the ground

Nowadays a multitude of companies are struggling with getting their teams productive and committed towards winning new business and moving into new territories. Many organisations are even undergoing a pivot as COVID has changed the game rigorously. Hearing the feedback of several sales reps in my industry, young and talented people in the spring of their lives, makes me worry a bit, they feel like a squeezed lemon as there is in general too little focus on training and guidance which is a shame. It will only lead to reduced performance and increase the gap between the true workfloor and the business leaders.

So if you are an inspiring founder, committed sales leader or value added investor, please pay attention to the 10 commandments you should have on your priority list if you want to grow your business. Yes, also in these times it pays off.

1. Insights from the trenches: Talk about losses

Wins are not so interesting, focus on the stuff that went wrong. A prospect that went dark after being engaged for weeks in a row. A competitor winning the deal unexpectedly. A lot can happen. Make a list with your team and talk through every loss in detail. So, the frustration can be ventilated and taken out of the heads of the team. Set clear goals on what you want to improve as a team. Not many just one or two to keep focus. That’s what creates resiliency.

2. Actionable: roll up your sleeves & put the learnings directly in practice

Get directly to work in your training with your team. Make calls, talk to prospects who just signed up for a demo, speak with customers about their experience. Make scripts and define your questions. If needed, develop a methodology to make your business more predictable.

3. No Powerpoint but storytelling

Experience matters, some have it some don’t from previous jobs. But everyone has gained some experience within your team with your software, products and services. Don’t start with a Powerpoint, but pay attention to personal stories that your team has. Discussing examples from the field really matter and connect them to the challenges. 

Setting up an experiment can be a great way to test new ideas: whether it may be an email script or a demo improvement.

4. Define your dream customers and write them on your whiteboard

I learned already in the beginning of my career in banking that it pays off to visualise your prospective customers. Write them down during the training, not in an excel sheet, but on your whiteboard. Which prospects are you going to win this quarter and why. Run through them at least everyday with a cup of coffee. It just takes a few minutes.

Mindset is everything and the law of attraction will do the rest.

5. Relate to the overall objectives of your company

Providing the big picture will help your team to understand the context and objectives of your company. Split the growth numbers of your company into specific objective key results (OKRs) for every team, varying from new business to customer success. Don’t forget to align with marketing. They have a critical role in this exercise as they have data in their hands. What do you need in terms of conversions? Is it realistic to expect the growth numbers from your board to really happen? Often these questions are not asked directly, but are carried along between the ears of a rep.

6. Take time for questions and personal attention

A winner for sales leaders is to take a walk with your team outside the office. Grab a coffee or have lunch. No politics there, just freedom and fresh air. Taking the time to do this is rewarding and you will hear if you have done your job properly. And it’s good for social bonding too.

7. Enhance Training with Direct Customer Feedback

Invite your customers to come to your office to speak about their experience with your product and why they decided to do business with you. Integrate it in your training. Having organised several Q&A sessions with customers in recent years, I learned this is a really valuable way of boosting the impact of a training. It’s personal and relaxed, you will hear a lot about the competition and their offering and why you have won. But also, why you have to be on guard. Some example questions:

  • Who is the person(s) behind your customer, what do they value in life and in their work?
  • What was the trigger to work with you?
  • Which feature helped them the most?
  • What can we improve to make you even better?

8. Record your sales training, no cell phones

Make use of a concrete agenda, make notes about the training and make sure not just the to-do’s are written down. Just record the session from head to tail. Share them internally and for instance for your new hires. Your training has become scalable now.

9. Deliver ownership

Ownership starts at the very beginning in the journey of a sales rep. Give responsibility and freedom instead of putting your colleagues on a treadmill. How do you onboard them? How you delegate tasks that will make your colleagues learn. Whilst growing a company at triple digits per year, I learned that delivering ownership makes your company truly scalable. 

Example. Organising a  breakfast event or a digital seminar by your sales reps is something that has proven to be valuable many times. They work together with multiple colleagues from different departments and do understand others better within your company.

10. Get marketing onboard in your meetings, let the data work for you

Data is key and start to use it as soon as you can in the training. Having a marketeer joining the training is great for alignment and making the mechanics work. Spending time to talk through their input, the traffic, conversions, marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads. What can be improved and when. This data is a goldmine and a fundament to further grow your business.

Well, that’s quite a list right, but remember many of those commandments are just about giving attention to your team in the training, knowing what’s going on and being human and to the point at the same time.

Of course a decent sales methodology is also a major point to include in your sales training to make your business more predictable, but If you don’t invest in your people, you will miss as we Dutch say, the boat!