Eventually, all sales leaders wonder if their team needs training. In short, if you’re asking the question, the answer may be yes. There are any number of indicators a team can benefit from training, such as missed quota, lagging KPIs, or a general air of complacency, but these are easy to see. Though sales numbers don’t always tell the whole story, they also don’t lie, and managers should be able to spot reps who are coasting. The more important question is why a team would need training. If the numbers are good, and attitudes positive, what reason could justify the expense, especially if the same team had been through training before? Let’s look at some reasons why competent sales teams still need training:
A Changing Landscape
As selling is one of the oldest professions, it is always changing. Whether it’s new technology, fluctuating economies, or a one-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, the way sellers interact with buyers is constantly in flux. To be successful, sellers must adapt. During the COVID-19 crisis, we watched sales pros revise and update traditional processes while simultaneously developing entirely new skill sets. Almost overnight, the expression Virtual Selling became a literal, business-saving necessity. From the basics of building rapport to uncovering needs to setting a virtual sales stage and incorporating video, training plays a vital role in ensuring a team is ready for the challenges of an ever-changing sales landscape.
Another important reason for training is to develop your business. As companies grow and expand, they take on new reps. These reps need to be properly onboarded to understand the ways, means, and expectations of their roles. Much of this requires training. Also, selling to different industries or larger clients requires different strategies and skill sets. Larger clients often have more complicated processes, which can mean more decision makers and unique impediments. In addition, growth through upselling and cross-selling to existing accounts requires distinct skills, including a certain finesse to avoid seeming pushy or strain relationships.
Optimize the Customer Experience
The best sales professionals know a positive customer experience is essential to building relationships. This goes far beyond being polite and personable. Of course, these go without saying, but a positive experience means the customer learns something they did not know. This can be about their industry, your products, or problems and issues they didn’t see. Trusted advisors do not hesitate to move past the status quo to challenge a customer’s thinking, even if it means contradicting expectations. Further, sales training creates a culture of accomplishment in which sales pros understand the standards and measurements that drive performance and achieve greater results for their customers.
Adversity is a part of any sales process. No matter how much preparation goes into an engagement, even the most skilled reps will suffer setbacks and encounter challenges they didn’t expect. Sales training is an investment in reps that provides the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to bounce back from problems or complications. Selling is a marathon, not a sprint. Sales training gives the stamina reps need for the long haul, not only in an individual sale but within one’s career. Without this, your organization can be prone to higher turnover, which often proves costly.
Application of Skill
It’s one thing to study a subject in books or online, but it’s another to learn by doing. How much confidence would you have in a surgeon whose experience was limited to YouTube videos? Selling is no different. The right sales training curriculum can put your reps into real-world situations they will encounter in the field. Through role-play and other activities, your sales team can prepare for the types of buyers and situations they will encounter. This includes everything from engaging decision makers to handling objections to on-going account management. In addition, by assuming different roles, your team can see a sale from the buyer’s perspective, better preparing them for the contingencies that arise in selling.
Like other professionals, including those in education, law, and medicine, salespeople must work, learn, and keep up with changing times. As society evolves, the ways we interact and engage with others must progress or we risk becoming dinosaurs. The best sales organizations know, to be successful, their teams must be equipped with the tools to meet the challenges of both today and tomorrow.