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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Schneider

How to Create Sales Training

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Facts about Sales Training:

  • Sales Training has an average ROI of 353% for companies that use it regularly

  • Companies that use Sales Training are 57% more effective at making sales than their competitors

  • Ongoing Sales Training results in 50% more sales per Sales Rep on average

  • Only 17% of companies claim to have an effective sales training program in place

  • 84% of sales training material is forgotten within three months if there is no ongoing program or follow-up to reinforce the knowledge


The sales environment has become a very challenging environment for those who make a living from it. There is disruptive digital technology, long buying cycles, price pressure from overseas competitors, pressures from management to make better numbers, and on and on. In short, a job in sales is not for the faint-hearted anymore. Instead, it needs highly skilled professionals these days who can build relationships and generate demand where none existed before. Your team will need all the support they can get to achieve these goals, and the better prepared they are, the better your overall sales performance will be.

While sales training is often well intended, the practical results and implications for salespeople are in many cases tiny, if any. Many of these trainings rely on old-school methods or are overloading people with too much information all at once. 

But for those who make correct use of it, their sales training is the key to achieving outstanding growth potential as a business. In this article, we will show you how exactly you can create your own sales training and make it the top-tier training in the industry. Furthermore, we will also cover what it takes to make sure that your team will also receive a real impact from it and put the learned theory into action.

What is Sales Training?

Some of us are more naturally gifted or talented than others. Especially in sales, some members of our team will just have a better feeling for engaging people in conversation and making new connections. But even those very rare and talented superstars on your team will not have all the skills and knowledge they need in a sales environment from the start.

Additionally, every product and every market works differently. Meaning even if someone was a superstar salesperson at their previous job, they might turn into a mediocre employee at best when they are switching jobs. This can be especially frustrating for sales managers, who believe that if they hire the best people from other companies their sales team will automatically consist of high-performers. Interestingly, this tactic often backfires.

Experienced sales reps from other industries combined with newly hired reps make an unpredictable and wildly unstable mixture for the performance of any sales team. But as sales managers, it is our job to bring predictable results on a repeatable basis. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by providing proper training and support for our sales team - with well-designed sales training.

For sales training to make an impact and improve the numbers in your bottom line, it has to take place regularly and be integrated into the monthly or weekly routine of your team.

The reason is simply that to become really good at any task, we as humans have to hear, do, and see things over and over again until they become almost automated for us in certain situations. Repeated knowledge becomes applied knowledge, and only applied knowledge will bring us results - not some fancy theories during a presentation. 

What exactly goes into sales training will depend on what exactly the business wants to improve about the sales process. The right training can thus take on many forms. Ideally, you will want to look for the “biggest domino” in your sales process - the one thing, that if you could improve it, the overall results in your bottom line will vastly increase. 

Here are some common topics that you could include in sales training to improve your sales performance:

  • Onboarding leads and bringing them into the sales pipeline

  • Moving from one step of the sales pipeline to the next

  • Closing the sale

  • Handling objections

  • Presenting our product

  • Different sales channels and how to use them

  • Sales Scripts

  • Finding new customers

  • Best Practices of the most successful sales reps

  • Skills on the phone

  • How to use certain Sales Tools

  • Cold-calling techniques

  • Do’s & Don’ts in a Conversation

  • Competitive situation and how to respond to it

  • etc.

What exactly your team should learn has to be decided and guided by the sales management or executives of the company. Alternatively, you can also ask your sales reps directly if they have specific things they would like to learn more about. In any case, it should be made sure that the time, money, and energy invested in sales training will bring the desired results. Therefore we also need a way to measure those results afterward and determine if the team made the desired progress or not. 

Sales training has to be an active part of the job and should also be adjusted in the way it will be needed. Be sure to also update the information as the program continues such as a new competitor entering the market, a new regulation, and what it means for us, etc.

Why do companies invest in Sales Training?

Sales Training Exercise
Sales is just like sports - the more you exercise, the better you become.

The most important thing to understand is that proper training is not an expense or something where lots of your employees hang around and watch the day go by. Instead, solid training is one of the best investments you can make in a business. It helps to improve the numbers for your business, it builds up your team’s confidence and focus and it also aligns your sales team to follow the same procedures and systems that will make them successful. 

Of course, the methods and practices that you plan to teach have to be real-world tested and optimized before you begin to invest in such a training program. But if you have already made sure that your sales process is highly effective and all you need are people to follow it with discipline, then sales training can become one of the best investments you have ever made.

However, keep in mind we are dealing with a learning process. This means that seeing the desired results will take some time. Ideally, your sales training also gets adjusted and optimized as you go along the way. Meaning if some tactics don’t improve the performance, it is time to try something different. Hence when you plan to introduce sales training in your organization, you also have to include a clear way to measure the results derived from it. 

Here are some of the most common benefits companies see from sales training:

  • Improvements in employee morale

  • Improvement of sales numbers

  • Improving the sales process

  • Reducing weak spots in the sales process

  • Improving customer experience

  • Improvement of the workplace, as a business invests in employees

  • Highly skilled workforce

  • Increasing revenue

  • Optimizing daily tasks & procedures

  • etc.

After a few months, a well-performing training schedule for your team should show clear improvements in at least one of these areas. Don’t rush things to get results faster. Even if you set up a daily training schedule it will take weeks at least before real results will be visible, not to mention that this would use up a significant amount of time from your sales team. You can’t get a baby in a month by making 9 women pregnant. Changing habits and installing new behavior in your team can and will take a certain time.

However, once these results gradually become visible, the time and money invested in sales training will create much bigger rewards compared to the costs for it. Just look at the above list and think what just improving 3 of these factors could mean for your business in the long term. Thus if you do it right, sales training will be one of the best investments a business can spend its money on.

Is your Business ready for Sales Training?

Too many executives think of sales training as a fast solution for major problems in the business or for a fundamentally weak performance of a sales team. Similar to digitizing a sales process, a training program will first of all reinforce what is already present. If you have fundamental flaws in your sales process, can’t generate leads predictably or your sales pipeline is losing customers where it should keep them, then even the world’s best training won’t help much for these fundamental tasks.

Therefore, before focusing too much on training procedures, lectures, and modules, we first have to make sure our sales process is optimized. 

Not many executives want to hear this, but sales training is not a quick fix to weak performance! Training can help onboard your team on your systems and procedures, but it is up to the management to make sure these systems will also bring results. If the daily procedures and processes in your business are failing you may first want to consider some sales consulting instead of sales training to set the stage for a training program. Even the best training won’t help at all if the daily tasks are filled with unproductive work, burdensome tasks, or if we sell our products to the wrong customers. Thus we have defined 4 steps to prepare our sales environment properly before you invest time and money in sales training.

Step 1: Get your sales pipeline optimized

Before starting to create a training program, make sure that your overall sales process is optimized and perfectly working. The sales process starts with marketing and lead generation to ultimately closing the sale and involves all the steps in between. If there are flaws in the current process and you start training people on a broken process, you might risk emphasizing these weaknesses. If you are moving in the wrong direction and decide to move faster, well… you will be moving faster in the wrong direction.

Our articles such as Creating a Sales Pipeline will guide you through setting up this process to make sure you have every detail optimized for the best possible sales output before you implement sales training programs. 

Step 2: Analyze your Internal Procedures

After we know our sales process is working smoothly and contains all the necessary steps, it is time to look at your internal organization and reporting structure. Communication is often a major problem in organizations, and this can cause turmoil even for a high-performing sales team. Hierarchical structures can also contradict each other, or the compensation plan might be unfair to those involved. Consider these points and check in your mind if your team is really fulfilling them at 100%:

  • Does everybody know their daily objectives? 

  • Is everybody aware of their responsibility? 

  • Is there a clear system for accountability and communication? 

  • Who is reporting to whom and when?

  • How are goals measured?

  • What system is in place to make sure people don’t miss their objectives?

  • What countermeasures do we have if objectives are missed?

  • How will our reps be rewarded?

  • Who is responsible for success?

  • Who is responsible when things go wrong

  • etc.

Thus make sure that communication structures and operating procedures within your team are set and effective, that schedules and meetings work like a finely oiled machine, and that the sales process is optimized. If you get these steps right you will already achieve better sales results than 90% of comparative companies, and we have not even started to talk about sales training yet!

Step 3: Remove Coincidence from Sales Activities

In many companies, the sales process often relies on the personality of the individual sales rep

This makes planning and guiding a sales team unpredictable as we can never know if our people have the right skills for the job. And even if we have one or two superstar sales reps in our team, this will mean the performance of the rest of our team will be abysmal. Plus we can’t control if those rare superstars will change jobs or get sick one day. There is also no quick fix to replacing rare talent. This is why we need a system to guide our processes and not coincidence

In sales there will always be numerous situations you can prepare for and at the same time those you can never prepare for. Sales can be so complex because every business is different, every product is different, every customer thinks and acts differently to different things, etc.

In all this myriad of possibilities, you will want to find the few evergreen tactics that will help you to optimize your output and that will bring results consistently. The complexity of a sales conversation is therefore enormous. You will never know how the other person reacts to your presentation, what situation they are currently in, who or what is influencing them, etc. Hence it is necessary to have a well-planned, systematic approach that will help you to get as many of the odds on your side as you can.

In many companies, such coincidences multiply as there is no clear procedure or structure in place on how to predictably make a certain number of sales. This series of events where pure coincidence determines outcomes already starts when a new employee is onboarded without a clear structure and just follows a more “senior” colleague through the day. In particular successful individuals on your team who have been with the company for decades “know how things get done here” and add their own twist to everything they do.

If a new salesperson gets hired, they often are sent to watch and observe the old veterans for a few days.

By shadowing the old, successful employee, the new hire is supposed to learn his or her new role. This caveman-like style of learning comes with a few downsides which we will analyze in an example:

Let’s call our new sales rep Mike and the veteran Bob.

If Bob has any bad habits in his daily activities, Mike will observe them and very likely put those same bad habits into place in his own work. This should not come as a surprise, since Mike did only get his information from this one single source named Bob. The new hire has no idea how to judge these activities, or if some of them are outdated and ineffective. 

Or if Bob engages with customers “his way” and it works for him, Mike might try to imitate the same behavior but he can’t do it because their characters are fundamentally different. Without realizing it, Mike might be set up for failure right away. 

The process is doomed and leaves no room for individual skill development. Mike also never has a chance to find the most effective ways to get things done, because all he sees will be how Bob does it. 

Even worse, what if Bob and Mike are good employees individually but somehow can't really work together? Bob might be a great salesperson on his own and with your company for years. But that does not qualify him to train other people.

If this situation or similar ones sound like your company, consider it as good news because then you have a huge potential for growth and improvement. When a new sales rep is onboarded, there have to be systems in place that will guarantee a certain output and make things like onboarding a new sales rep predictable. If you have not yet achieved this level of operational performance in your sales team, you first have to work on these issues before investing time and money in sales training.

Step 4: Set Goals and Define how to Achieve them

Sales Training itself can take on many forms. The big question will be, what your organization wants to achieve with it. Before setting up a training program you first have to find the most important objectives that need fixing within your sales process. If you just pick some random topic out of the dozens of things a training could cover, then results will be minimal - even with the best training in the world. Consider for example goals such as:

  • Do you want better closing ratios?

  • Do you want your team to have more appointments?

  • Do you want to improve productivity?

  • Do you want to improve your team’s skills on the phone?

  • Are you looking to bring in bigger clients?

  • Do you want to expand into new markets?

  • Do you want to improve prospecting activities?

  • etc.

Depending on what exactly you want to achieve, your sales training will have to be set up differently. If the goal is unclear, the results from sales training will be slim to nonexistent. Starting with your desired goal, you will next have to choose the right format for reaching that goal. Some methods or formats will be better suited than others to achieve a certain outcome. For example:

  • Is video training best suited for reaching your goals? 

  • Are classroom sessions better for improving performance in your desired area? 

  • How long should the training take place to see results?

  • Or should you invest in interactive learning programs?

If the outcome is unclear, selecting the best method is impossible because there just is no best method for anything. According to the Sales Management Association, however, sales training programs are more than 57% effective if they are supported by at least some form of technology.

What will also be important is a feedback cycle that measures performance and the following results after introducing sales training. You must have some kind of numbers or customer responses to track so you can also be sure that your program is working, or at least have a clear signal that what you do sends the team moving in the right direction.

Once you have completed these 4 steps you will have a well-oiled sales system in place that generates results predictably. This alone will already put you ahead of most businesses in the market. However, if you detect weak points in your pipeline or the potential to improve ratios and patterns, you can further reinforce these points with the right sales training.

Start your Sales Training by onboarding new Sales Reps

Onboarding for sales training
Help your new hires. Start your training programs with their needs.

Proper sales training starts with the first day a new sales rep starts working in your business

In most businesses, there is a lack of skills or knowledge in the sales force because certain fundamentals have never been shown properly when these people started working in the company. If there are onboarding procedures, they are in many cases insufficient to transfer the necessary knowledge, and much less to train someone properly for handling tough sales situations. Let’s remember: repetition of knowledge is the key to actual knowledge

We have to make sure that the most important skills are taught, shown, and explained over and over again so that new people being onboarded will have realistic chances of becoming successful regardless of their previous background. The better we help our team to develop and work with our pipeline and procedures, the better numbers can we expect our sales team to achieve later on.

As soon as someone starts working for you, consider the following points:

  • Are there materials in place to explain the most important instructions, such as manuals? 

  • What will the first days look like? 

  • What will be the most important tasks for the new rep? 

  • What resources do you provide to really get people into gear, apart from fancy brochures nobody reads?

  • How are you making sure all tasks are properly understood?

  • How will you make sure that people who start in your sales team will be pushed and become successful?

Sales is a lifelong learning process on the one hand where even after decades on the job you will continue to encounter new situations. But making sales at its core is also just basic human interaction. And as every human being is different, every new day in sales can reveal a different surprise. Especially for people who have not worked in sales previously, this will be a major challenge. Every day you will be facing new obstacles and new challenges. 

This makes the job in sales very diversified and keeps it interesting, but also very demanding. People who have worked in other fields before might need a paradigm shift in several areas and change their daily work habits before they can become successful in your team.

But despite many uncertainties, there are some guidelines for selling a product that you can implement in your selling process in all industries. If you have no idea where to start, look for the “best practices” of your most successful sales reps. Onboarding for a new hire should start with basics about the most important tasks on the job. These can heavily vary from one industry to another, but mostly they consist of being on the phone, presenting the product, asking the right questions in a conversation, and so forth.

Let’s imagine the situation of a newly hired sales rep who is at work on her first day and has never worked in sales in her life before. This is the point where your provided material has to start working and show her the way through the dark valleys of the sales universe. Introduce people to what is necessary for being a successful salesperson in your company. Show them what activities and performances you expect from them. Explain why this is necessary and how this process will help them to become successful as well.

Sales managers need to have a system in place that will measure the progress and improvement of someone going through the onboarding procedure in your company. Look for numbers, ratios, or overall engagement with customers. This system should also document and track activities in the field when your new hires are having their first conversations with customers. Again, consider these points:

  • If you cannot measure your activities, how will you try to improve them?

  • How will you know which activities need improvement at all?

  • If your salesperson talks with the customer, how do you know what worked and what didn’t? 

  • How will you find out which details of your presentation trigger emotions and buying signals?

  • How will you know what the right way is to present your product?

  • How will you know which approaches yield the best results?

Exactly such information is crucial to know if you plan to manage your sales team effectively. Separating what works from what doesn’t work combined with always testing and improving new approaches is where ultimately sales excellence is born in a company. This is the direction your sales training should take you. It should help to minimize weaknesses in the process and help exactly where most help is needed.

Once we have identified where most of our new hires struggle in the sales process, we can begin to develop a first training module. The training can be tied to weekly meetings in combination with reviewing, setting goals, and defining tasks for the week. 

Proper sales training should be held at least once a week to have an impact, especially for newly hired reps. Remember that repetition is key to building knowledge.

Sales is more an art than it is a science and it is largely depending on human psychology and individual goal setting. Your people need to be motivated and pushed to perform at the best they can be, which will require feedback from the outside and a good trainer to show them what is possible.

The most important activities your team has to fulfill should be updated and refreshed regularly

The more effort you put into training your staff, the higher the chances that your people will perform better over time. Occasionally, your sales reps will come into direct contact with your competition. Such a situation is a win-or-lose scenario where the best-performing sales rep wins. Make sure you have the winning team!

Either your people have the necessary arguments and can provide enough benefits to convince the customer that you are the better partner for doing business, or your competitor will get the deal. 

You can learn more on how to handle such situations from our article on How to Handle Objections or How to Become More Credible in Sales, and other articles on our blog to find out what your people are supposed to do and say in such a situation.

Investing in properly trained and equipped salespeople provides your business with the highest rate of direct monetary return because highly skilled employees in this area will be the fastest to bring cash straight back into your business long before any other department of the business will. By starting with the right onboarding procedure, you are setting the stage for each new member of your team to grow and develop into a success from day one.

How To Create Sales Training

Step1: Identify the skills you want to improve

When you consider introducing a sales training program in your organization, you might already have a clear idea of the area in your sales process you want to improve. If not, it is time to identify the part of the process that needs the most improvement, or where an increase in the skill of our staff will bring the best possible results.

If you have absolutely no idea where to start, then it is time to measure your team's current performance. Look for skills and processes where an increase in performance has the best chance of increasing revenue. Identify the skills and steps in the sales process that have to get done in a certain way, and then look at how each team member performs in these areas. You might want to use a matrix or graphic to make weaknesses across the team more visible such as the following:

skilla matrix for sales training
Identify the skills you want to improve and weaknesses of your team (

Maybe many customers are dropping out in the onboarding process of your sales pipeline. Or you might lose most customers at the end when closing the sales. With such charts combined with data from your (digital) sales systems such as the CRM, you should be able to identify the bottlenecks in your sales process very clearly and precisely. 

If a direct comparison between team members seems too harsh you can also gather this data anonymously.

Alternatively, you might also want to ask your sales team directly about what they want to learn or where they see problems in their daily tasks. Very often your team will know where exactly the weaknesses of our process, products, and business are. Don’t forget that we are all human - ask for pain points, difficulties, frustrations, or anything that might be troublesome. All these emotional elements can strongly affect your team's morale and productivity.

Another option might be to train people on how to use scripts better, how to better work with sales tools, or other parts of the process that you provide as a business. Here are some of the most used topics in sales training programs:

  • Developing and improving communication skills:

This format can cover skills like active listening, asking the right questions, presenting your product in the right way, choosing the right words, structuring a conversation the right way, and more.

  • Understanding your customers and the market:

This format can give a perspective of the needs, wants, and desires of our target audience. Sales reps can learn how to build rapport uncover hidden needs and lead a prospect to choose our product as the best possible solution. Also, the market dynamics, competitors, and their influence on the sales process can be handled.

  • Learn a proven sales approach:

For companies that already have their best practices aligned and put together in a system to make sales predictably, this format can help teach your team how to best use a proven approach. It can help to enhance the necessary skills, present products in the right way, and make the most out of given leads or other resources.

  • Practicing sales techniques:

We can all become better than we currently are. Especially in sales, there is always something new or worth improving. With this format we can improve our team’s skills and abilities, and practice techniques like asking questions. It is also very helpful to role-play and get feedback from other more experienced sales reps. Certain products also have long and complex sales cycles. In these cases, it is very helpful to train people on the necessary follow-up procedures, presenting products in the right way, learning to communicate, and more. 

  • Improving weaknesses:

If there are flaws in the sales process, such as customers always dropping out at a certain point, then this format can help to identify these areas and focus on improving them. It can also be used to generally improve performance in certain areas.

Step 2: Define ways to measure the effectiveness of your sales training

After we know which area of our sales process we want to target, it is time to define the metrics and business results we want to achieve. In the same instant, we also have to find a way of measuring progress or coming up with a clear definition for the success of our efforts.

Before introducing the training to your team, we also have to set up a structure for communicating the training to your staff. More than one change project already failed because of improper communication and internal resistance among staff members.

Pay particular attention to involving the more senior and more experienced reps and also ask them for their opinion if appropriate, as they will be the most resistant to change after doing things “their way” for years.

Consider these points when defining the goals of a sales training program:

  • What are the goals of our organization?

  • What are the goals of our sales team?

  • What challenges are facing or will we be facing in our market?

  • Which areas need the most improvement?

  • How will we improve skills in the needed areas?

  • How can we achieve the greatest impact for our team with our training?

  • How will we measure progress?

  • How do we keep training active and ensure engagement?

  • Who will carry out the training and do these people have the necessary skills?

Step 3: Define the Format

After you have identified the most important area in your sales process that you want to improve, it is time to look at your individual team members and their learning profile. Look for their desired sources of information and what motivates them. Try also to identify if your team is better learning from hands-on practice or from theoretical lectures like in a classroom setting

What also has to be taken into account when choosing the format is the budget and time that will be allocated for the sales training. The more time and money, of course, the more formats you can choose from. Note that while the price will set you certain limits, expensive sales training does not always have to be better sales training. However, the budget will directly affect the available formats, and the formats in turn will at least partially affect the performance of your training. 

The cheapest solutions for sales training are pre-recorded sales lessons your team can watch on their computer screen. While on the high-end you would have live face-to-face training in a beach resort far outside the usual office environment. Of course, the latter would be more motivating and stimulating for new thoughts. Combined with a good trainer, it would probably also bring in much better results.

Also note that usually there are more options for smaller sales teams, whereas with large groups the training formats tend to be more limited.

Here are some of the most common formats used for sales training:

  • Live Training retreats outside the company

  • Live training on-site

  • Pre-recorded videos

  • Live online courses, with direct interaction

  • Online tutorials

  • Workshops

  • Seminars

Decide based on your team’s preferred way of learning, the time and budget available, and lastly based on the objective you want to achieve.

Step 4: Ensure flexibility & scalability

Make sure that you do not just hold classes for your team, but make sales training a lasting asset in your business. The more you invest in your sales training, the more resources and ideas should be documented. This can be the basis for knowledge management if it does not already exist in your organization. Don’t forget to insert all the data from real customer conversations as you go along the way with your training and draw conclusions from them to continually improve your process. There are digital sales training tools such as a Learning Management System (LMS) that will help you to keep and maintain all this knowledge with ease and make it accessible across the entire organization. 

After having enough material you can create role-specific courses and formats for your team, allowing every member to choose the area they would want to learn and improve the most. This will allow you to always ensure high performance standards in your sales training even as your business grows and progresses.

But with all this material it is still important to stay flexible. Disruptive technology can change markets very quickly, new trends or technology might change the behavior of customers faster than you think. To stay ahead of the game make sure to integrate new ideas and perspectives into your existing material continuously. Be flexible to change your system if it does not work as intended anymore and constantly re-define your approach when needed.

How to Measure Sales Training Success

Sales Training Metrics
As a manager, you need to have precise instruments to measure your performance.

Having a clear system to measure the results of your training program is as important as the training itself. As sales is largely driven by numbers, it is very easy to find KPIs in your sales performance as you measure your team’s activity. These numbers will act like a dashboard and show you with precision what parts of your process are working, and which are not.

Here are some examples of KPIs that will help you to get a clear overview of your sales performance:

  • Average Pipeline size

  • The average length of the sales cycle

  • Sales productivity (time spent with customers)

  • Calls made per week

  • Appointments made per week

  • Closing ratios

  • Sales skill progress

  • Deal size

  • Follow-Up activities

  • Win rate on deals

  • Pipeline generation rate

  • Sales rep turnover rate

  • Revenue per sales rep

  • Overall revenue

  • New partnerships formed

Finding Material for Your Sales Training

Once we have identified the most important areas where our team needs support, defined the format, and ensured a system to store, document, and distribute our knowledge it is time to go into the details and find the exact material we want to teach.

What your training looks like, and what it consists of largely depend on the business you have and the products you sell - different products have different sales channels or different ways of selling and thus need different forms of sales training.

It is thus impossible to provide you with an exact formula for how to train and educate your sales reps for each individual business situation. Instead, we will look at a pattern for creating your own training material that will bring the most results for your sales performance

If you have not clearly defined a sales process yet, start there. Here are three questions that can help you define the necessary steps and find important material to teach your team:

1st Question: What do we sell? 

I know this is obvious but dig deep here. What exactly does your product do, what is the result of using it, and how will people or the world benefit from using it? 

Who is it for?

Who has no use for it?

Maybe there are some details about your product that are not obvious to everybody at first sight, how do you make sure they will be emphasized as well?

Also look for alternatives to your products, so-called substitutes, and check their price points and exact advantages and disadvantages to help you position your product the right way and prepare for possible dangers. Understand your competitors and how they argue with customers. When you have an overview of your benefits and the alternatives in the market, set up a plan for approaching your ideal customers. This approach is then the basis of your training material.

2nd Question: How do we sell it?

Figure out a way to present the advantages of your products in a sales presentation - try to make it fun and exciting, maybe even entertaining for prospects. Combine the best practices with experience from your most successful sales reps and try to create a “bulletproof” approach to sell your products. If there is no surefire approach, try to get the odds in your favor as much as you can and find a way to close as many customers as possible. We have gathered many details for this step in our blog post about Sales Presentations.

A customer is a human being like everybody else - look at what their desires are and how you can help them to fulfill them by using your product. Look for what excites the customer and what topics they react to. Make sure every appointment you get with a customer will be worth their time, even if they did not buy. Maybe they will buy in the future or send you referrals.

Systematize the approach as much as you can to allow almost no room for errors. Set up standards and procedures throughout your sales process to let your people repeatedly emphasize and learn those details.

3rd Question: Who is our customer?

Get every possible scenario of when and where your product can be useful, and find out who can be the buyer in this case. Often buyers are congregated in large chunks like industries, local areas, or demographics like age or gender. We have highlighted these details in our posts about Finding Your Target Audience. Make sure your training also covers ways to find new customers in times when leads are rare.

Find the path of least resistance to making a sale in your customer groups. 

If possible, separate them according to location, size of the organization, personal interest, or other attributes and select individual selling approaches to them. Find a way to adapt sales presentations for each customer segment according to their individual situation, not a one-size-fits-all approach. Your training should make it clear which customers to talk to and where to find them. Leave nothing by chance and give your team a detailed plan of who is worth their time and when to move on in a conversation.

Salespeople usually share the same kinds of problems. 

A customer not picking up the phone, or another customer being rude is not something reserved only for the special few of us. This is what makes these types of training very effective for the entire group because everybody can also learn from each other's mistakes and so the format becomes beneficial for every participant.

Use scripts to reinforce your Sales Training

Sales Training Scripts
Scripts have to be written best practices, to guarantee the best possible outcome for your sales reps.

Once you know these facts we just highlighted, you can proceed and begin to put your material together. To align your entire sales team it is always helpful to have scripts ready, especially for new sales hires. 

By using scripts for standardizing your sales process from day one when a new sales rep is hired, you can have them all working in more or less the same direction. Some mistake a script for sales as an absolute fixed route to follow, but instead it is in reality a kind of guide to make the first steps as successful as possible.

Your team does not have to follow every word exactly as outlined in the script but instead, they can use it as a structure of the conversation to guide the appointment in the right direction.

The best results come if you not only provide a script for your team to use but also have the script integrated into and taught in your training program. This will make sure people learn how to use the scripts properly and understand when and where this tool can help them. 

But as with any tool, its proper use has to be trained.

There will be customers who take the conversation out of the script, others will ask for details or lead the conversation to points no script in the world could ever prepare your sales reps for. 

If your people have received proper training for such a situation, no customer can ever derail them because they will know exactly how to react. 

This is the big advantage proper sales training will give your reps: you and your team can prepare for such situations, but the customer on the other hand will always have to figure out a way during the conversation

Using this advantage can really help you to improve sales performance and uncover needs as well as properly handle objections, so make sure you make use of it.

Make your Sales Training Practical

Even if you provide the best material, tactics, and strategies for selling, it will largely seem theoretical or a little more distanced from the actual conversation with a customer.

Some salespeople thus think sales training is too theoretical because, in the trenches, the situation would be different.

On the other hand, there are certainly some members of your team who are selling way more and way better than others. They sell more products to more customers even in the worst of economic times. Those who outperform all others in their group, the top 20% or even the top 10%. The cream of the crop. When you start introducing a sales training program, these might also be the first ones who tend to resist it because they might not need it.

An easy way to make sales training as practical as possible is to ask those top performers what they are doing differently than others in a group setting. Give them the stage, honor them. Celebrate their outstanding successes. Let them share their view and their best practices. These are your best team members for a reason - and they certainly have a few ideas why what they are doing works so well.

During your sales training sessions, let some of your top performers share their stories and insight into why they became successful. Ask them to explain why they are so successful and what are the necessary steps they took to become so good. The rest of your teammates will certainly listen closely and observe what they could use for their daily activities.

In such a group environment, your people learn from each other. Best practices are shared and the results are multiplied throughout your whole team.

If you really have no idea what to put into your training material, the best practices are always there to be shared and to serve as a starting point for your training. Additionally, it will only emphasize real-world and practical advice “from the trenches” that your people really can use. This level of hands-on advice will not be achieved otherwise even with the biggest efforts in providing materials for your sales training. Plus it helps to increase the group dynamics among your team.

Involve your Team

Sales Training - Team
Let your team participate and create the training sessions together.

Depending on the format, you now have several ways to schedule your sales training.

The most commonly used form of training would be to perform workshops or small seminars for and with your staff. 

It can even just be just a short meeting for an hour, which should already be enough to handle the biggest issues. These live sessions of training have in most cases the best improvements for performance because the trainer can do one thing here that is not available in any other form: 

You can ask the participants in the room about their current problems in selling.

This not only keeps things practical, but it directly helps your team to feel understood and that the business really provides them with the necessary resources to succeed. The best sales trainer I had throughout my career started every single seminar we attended with exactly a question like this: 

“Before we get started, I would like to know if anyone has had any problems during the last week of selling.”

That single opening sentence was all the program this guy ever needed! We hardly had enough time to finish with the questions after this opening sentence.

In our group were mainly young, inexperienced salespeople like me at that time. So of course there were a lot of problems we all faced throughout the day. We were also in the financial industry, which really was a tough and competitive field. There were more than enough obstacles daily. And this training helped us to overcome them and find new ways of handling these problems.

Since our trainer was really a pro, he could help us solve all our problems usually within these 90-minute training sessions we had twice a week. This was not only a brilliant way of creating seminars (he barely ever had to do more than ask this question since there was always some sort of problem we had to solve), it is also a way of directly engaging your staff in the training and really helping where it has the greatest impact.

We also discussed live situations we had with our customers during these training sessions, and never any theory or fancy literature. We were in the trenches all day, visiting customers and making calls. What we needed was practical advice from someone who has been there and done that. No academic B.S. or theories.

Since our trainer was an experienced seller in the same company himself, we knew what he was talking about was real and tested in selling situations with customers, and so we made great use of it.

I know there are a myriad of sales trainers with all kinds of courses and workshops you can choose from, but to really get your sales to their maximum impact, find someone who has sold the exact product you are selling to exactly the same customer you are selling to.

Nothing beats learning from a person who has done it before.

If you can’t find someone like that, for instance, because you are a startup or are testing a new product, then have the trainer also sell in your company for at least a week to see how the daily struggle is. Talk is so cheap. 

If the trainer has never sold the product, how is he supposed to tell others how to do it?

To inspire people and really get them motivated and going you will have to help them right where they are right now.  This works best if you can offer them hands-on experience from someone who has been there to show them the way.

How to get a Top Sales Trainer cheaply

Sales Trainer
A good coach doesn't have to be expensive.

A pro tip to get such professional trainers very cheaply is to take your best sales rep and offer him or her to train his or her colleagues for a bonus. In every sales team, some top performers always have their pipeline full and constantly bring in the best numbers. Offer them to share their experiences by holding a short seminar to share their best practices with the team for a little extra money. 

It doesn't need to be much compensation or a long, complicated talk. A 90-minute seminar per week during working hours for 200$ extra at the end of the month could be enough to create improvements for most sales teams. Very often, these top achievers are happy to take on such a chance since it also improves their standing and reputation within the company, making it a win-win for both sides.

Taking on the current problems people are facing in sales, and giving your people some help and support where they need it is often enough content to improve your sales team's performance. 

Apart from that, you can also include things like best practices from your best salespeople or teach them ways to generate leads since both are certainly helpful for any sales rep. 

Any obstacle that keeps your people from reaching their goals can and should be dealt with in such training. And the more tailor-made for your people and their situations the training will be, the more will it affect your team’s sales performance.

This is in short the essence you should use when creating your own training in your organization: the more you can directly handle the ongoing problems of your team with such training, the better its impact will be.

Include Role-Playing in your Sales Training

There is one tactic you should definitely make use of in your sales training: role-playing.

Role-playing is a very effective way of training people for real-life situations

It helps to gamify challenges from real-world sales situations your team faces. It is especially useful for training to make appointments or improve skills on the phone. 

For example, one person can sit in the next room and play the customer while one of your group has to call that person on the phone (on loudspeaker of course so the others can listen and learn) and try to get an appointment with him or her. 

Even though it is just in a playful environment, it creates pressure to perform and shows every individual their areas that need improvement.

Another role-playing activity we frequently used for improving our skills on the phone was the “hot chair”:

One person plays the sales rep and sits in front of the group with their back facing the audience. It is important that they can't see the audience, because this will give them the feeling as if they were on the phone with them. 

The rest of your team as a group plays the customer, and the sales rep has to make an appointment with them. The audience can use all the objections they can think of and try as much as they can not to give them the appointment.

This play is especially effective if you have a few very strong people on your team and a majority of weak ones. It demonstrates to the weaker salespeople how the best guys get on the phone and make their appointments.

This will create a sense of pressure to perform and really will show the weaknesses when one person is hit cold by an objection. With this exercise, you can then in the group discuss what could have been said to get an appointment ultimately, and thereby encourage people to learn from each other’s strengths. Last but not least, such role-playing will help memorize hands-on practices for handling objections and getting your message across even with resistance.

After doing such exercises a few times, your people not only learn that there is always a way to get an appointment, even with horrible customers. It also becomes obvious that there is no need to be afraid of calling somebody and that it can be fun and thrilling too.

Fun is another very important aspect of group training. 

We are not in school anymore, thankfully. There is no need to make sales training a classroom-style event where one person talks and the others listen. The more active you can get your people and the more participation you have, the better. 

Sure it has to remain a productive environment at the end of the day but work also should be fun. And especially in sales, a little laugh here and there can be great for the morale of the troops.

While there are also other forms of training for your people, I highly recommend sticking with this real-world and action-tested type of workshops or short seminars. Things like E-learning may have gained in popularity over the last few years, especially in big corporations. However, these formats will hardly improve your sales numbers. Sales is very proactive and involves a lot of personal development as well as several trial-and-error attempts. It is not a “learn all the facts and then answer a multiple choice test”-thing as you know it from the world of academia. 

Sales Training needs real, living proof of tactics and approaches that work and inspiration from people who really walk the walk. This will show people how it is done and encourage them to emulate what they have learned. With repetition comes the feeling of certainty so they know what to do in every situation. This is why repeated training is so important.

How To Schedule Your Sales Training

A commonly asked question is if you have your sales training environment set and on point, then how often should you do those training sessions?

To be clear, salespeople are employed in your business for selling. And while training can enhance their performance, it should still be considered a supportive activity and not fill their days. In the day of every salesperson, there are the so-called “golden hours”.

This is the time when the customers are most likely to pick up the phone, where people are in the best mood statistically, and where your chances of getting a customer in a conversation are the highest. What exactly your golden hours may be will depend on your market and industry. There will be some times of the day when your customers are more reachable, more active, and possibly even in a better mood.

Avoid the Golden Hours!

For many businesses, these golden hours are in the morning between 9 am and 11 am, as well as in the afternoon between 3 pm to 5 pm. During this time, potential customers are most likely to be sitting at their workplace and are available. But of course this does not have to be an exact measurement, and the golden hours for your business might be different.

For example, when selling directly in a B2C market the golden hours often start around 4 pm until 7 pm, because this is the time when people are at home from work. 

What the golden hours for your business are has to be defined individually since every product and end customer's behavior will be different.

After you know your golden hours and know when the best time for your people is to be on the phone or making appointments, it should be obvious that any sales training should not interfere with those hours. This is the time to schedule appointments and talk to customers, and essentially the time when your business will be earning money. And even a low-performing staff on the phone is better than a high-performing staff not calling a single customer.

A good way is to schedule your training before your golden hours. Thereby you can directly solve the problems your people are experiencing on the phone and during appointments, right before they get into the action again. If done right and you have a great speaker, the training can also be a huge motivation and boost people's self-image. For instance, role-playing can show them how to handle any objection that has derailed them just the days before just before making such calls again.

This will give an additional motivation boost for the upcoming session of prospecting.

Frequency of your sales training

Unfortunately, sales training is not a set-and-forget type of thing. It doesn’t work to have training once, and your people know everything from then on. Repetition is the mother of skill and the father of learning. Becoming good in sales is a personal development process, and will require ongoing work on one's self. You have to repeat the most important messages again and again, to really have them become part of your team’s DNA.

In turn that also means that if you want to push your people to bring in the best numbers possible, the trainings have to be consistent for a long period as well.

Once or twice a week is sufficient in most cases, depending on the length of each individual training session.

How long should a sales training session be?

A short training to take on the biggest issues your people are facing and boost the morale of the troops should take between 60 to 90 minutes.  If you want, you can add a short break in between to make sure your people can also regenerate their mental capacities and get the most out of it. We know from research that the brain will automatically switch off after around 30-45 minutes (just think back to how it was in school), so give it the time it needs.

It can be enough to hold such training just once per week, even though I would recommend doing it twice a week if you stick to the 60 or 90-minute time frame.

A longer training can become counter-productive since people lose focus when they have to sit in a room for too long and listen to someone, regardless if the speaker does a great job. 

Also never forget that training keeps salespeople from what they are actually supposed to be doing - selling products.

Thus it should really be focused on the time limit that will have a positive impact on the overall sales operations.

More training will not be necessary in most cases because once or twice a week should be enough to handle the ongoing problems your people are facing. Too much training can be a time-waster, while too little training can kill the desired improvements.

What you exactly schedule and how long your training will last might depend on the situation your people are in. If you have a lot of experienced people already on board, then there might be hardly any training necessary. On the other hand, if you have lots of new hires constantly in your salesforce, then regular training once or twice a week should be mandatory for everyone on board.

Whatever you eventually decide for in your business, make sure that you really commit to implementing proper sales training that gets your people to their best performances. 

Your sales numbers and your bank account will thank you for it.

Constant improvement, even if it might be tiny, will compound over time and after years can bring massive differences between your business and your competitors.

Even the best and most innovative products can and will be copied over time. 

But a motivated, well-operating sales force and positive team spirit cannot be copied by anyone.


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