Align sales training with your business strategy
Your business’s strategy, goals, and needs are what makes you unique in your field; they provide a foundation for each department, product, and employee to grow upon. It might seem obvious that training should align with the roots of your business. But how do you actually plant the seed that allows for employee development?
Training is a multifaceted tool. For most, it takes more than just one meeting to apply their newly learned skills. It’s no surprise that training takes effort, time, and money - all of which are extremely valuable resources to any company. Knowing this, it is critical that you have an effective employee onboarding program to minimize loss and maximize gain.
Whether it be a new hire - or a new product - let’s look at how sales training can help support your organization’s strategic objectives.
What is Performance Mapping? Performance Mapping aligns your business’s goals with training strategies that will target your team’s motivation, skill mastery, and critical thinking. Creating a Performance Map will allow for you to decide what information is necessary to your training, how you are going to implement it, and why it is important to your learner.
Sales training fails for three reasons:
- Sales skills are taught separately from product knowledge
- Training fails to make learning stick and often does not provide follow-up
- Most training programs do not target learner motivation
Performance Mapping acknowledges these common “fails” by using them as inspiration to improve. Having an effective foundation - or map - for your training program will allow for clear guidance of how to progress throughout the training process.
Your business probably has many strategic objectives focused around how you can improve customer satisfaction, product management, learning standards, or financial growth - just to name a few. Each member of your Sales Team is a core piece to the overall puzzle, and how you train your team will ultimately affect the outcome of your objectives. Consider how your Sales Team’s abilities could directly influence these examples of strategic objectives:
- Objective: to increase customer retention in current customers
- Objective: to introduce new products to new and existing markets
- Objective: to create and uphold a guideline unifying all products to the same standard of quality
- Objective: to improve distributor and/or supplier relationships
- Objective: to develop training resources that are applicable and accessible to all employees
- Objective: to award staff based off of performance and/or product knowledge
Financial strategic objectives
- Objective: to increase revenue by 10% annually
- Objective: to widen profit margins by 5%
As you can see, your Sales Team can easily influence the success of your organization’s strategic objectives for better or for worse. When training includes not only the skills and techniques needed to become a great salesperson, but also includes information about the organization’s goals and strategies, you create an opportunity for them to learn why? Why am I taking the time to learn this? Why should I be invested? Why does my performance affect the big picture?
Techniques that work
In this day and age, it is nearly impossible to get all of your Sales Team together for in person, mini-training sessions. This is why many businesses organize an annual, company-wide training getaway. Unfortunately, not only are these events costly, but they’re not effective: research shows that over 50 percent of the content is forgotten in a little over a month.
So what does work?
E-learning and micro-learning not only work well independently, but flourish with success when paired together. Using these learning strategies assist our natural process for retaining new information. 15-minute training sessions not only allow for the learner to take the training at their convenience, but also retain small pieces of information at a time. When micro-learning is combined with e-learning, the learner is able to access these learning bits on their computer, tablet, or phone. This is particularly useful to your Sales Team because they are able to quickly review product knowledge while on-the-go, which can boost confidence and minimize any anxiety associated with training.
Tie it together
Think about something you’re passionate about. It’s probably safe to assume that you know a lot about the subject and talk about it often with friends, colleagues, or even the unsuspecting commuter you sit next to on the subway. Isn’t that exactly what you want for your Sales Team? You want the passion, knowledge, and enjoyment of talking about a product they are experts about.
When your Sales Team does not have the right training, it is near impossible for them to effectively sell their product. Customers can see right through a salesperson who doesn’t fully understand what they’re selling. A customer wants someone who can analyze, evaluate, and relate to their personal needs - not just sell them the most expensive option. Incorporating sales training with your business objectives allows your Sales Team to fully understand their purpose, influence, and unique role within your organization.
Knowledge is power - especially for your Sales Team. The success of your business relies on the success of your product. The more they know, the more valuable they are because effective salespeople gain the trust of loyal customers who are willing to buy.
Are you inspired to revamp your business's sales training? You might want to explore some suggestions on how to get management support for your new training initiatives.
Blake Beus is a Director of Learning Solutions with extensive experience in healthcare and financial services. What Blake enjoys most about his role at AllenComm is helping organizations implement initiatives that have a real impact on the business.