What Type of Sales Training is Right For Your Team?
Congratulations to your company for surviving the pandemic. Things sure looked bleak for a while. You might have needed to lay off staff, but you made it through the downturn. Now the economy is growing again and you are looking to hire more sales talent for your team. That’s the good news. The bad news is your sales managers have maxed out their bandwidth with their current responsibilities and daily activities. This leaves you with a critical decision regarding how to ramp up the new sales hires. The question is, what is the best way to onboard your new sales hires? Regardless of whether you are a Fortune 500 company or just hired your first sales rep–you need a sales training plan in place. In this article, we will explore a few options for training your future new sales reps.
The Shadow Method of Sales Training
This training model has your new sales rep follow your top-performing reps to learn how they sell. The idea is that the new hire will absorb the best practices of your star producers and become a high performer themselves. In the best-case scenario, your top rep shows the new hire all the proper procedures, shares their best practices, and takes the time to ensure the new hire understands the “why” behind each sales activity.
In the real world, the top sales reps are also most likely your busiest, and therefore your most valuable to your revenue goals. More often than not, they feel hand-holding the new hire will cost them business. In fact, they are probably right. If you’ve ever been the new hire who shadowed a high producer and asked the sales rep too many questions, you could feel the awkward tension. So, in many cases, you just nod and observe and go home feeling overwhelmed. It can feel like you are a beginner swimmer having to keep up with Michael Phelps. In other words, discouraging.
Another shortfall of the shadow method of training new sales reps is its lack of consistency. First, it’s highly dependent on the mindset the sales rep shows up to work with on that particular day. If they are upset, tired, or simply having a bad day, the new hire will not have the best experience. Second, if your new hire is asked to follow several different reps as part of their sales training, they will observe different activities, word tracks, and behaviors.
The shadow method of sales training is not all bad. It gives the new hire an overview of their duties, and they can gain insights from the experience of the other sales team members. But it does leave a lot to be desired. Imagine your company is growing fast, like Inc 500 fast, and you need to hire 25 new sales reps a month–the shadow method of sales training will cause a crisis. If your goal is to bring on new sales reps and get them at peak performance quickly, you may want to consider a more formal sales training methodology.
The Train-the-Trainer Method of Sales Training
In this method, you select an internal candidate, often a sales manager, to transition to the role of sales trainer. The key benefit is that they are familiar with your product, policies, and procedures. With professional skill development, they can learn to be expert facilitators. They can learn a structured framework to provide training and re-skill with new competencies like assessments and coaching.
A formal training program will provide increased confidence in the trainer. In addition, it will provide a structured format as opposed to asking the new sales trainer to develop his own content and curriculum from scratch. Creating lasting change in sales behaviors requires a specific curriculum designed for adults. Not like when we were children and sat at our desks and listened to the teacher talk. Modern sales training requires adult students to be actively engaged, with a curriculum designed with a combination of modeling, practice, and feedback. The goal of the train the trainer approach is to have a dedicated source that can get the sales reps up to speed fast while not taking away valuable time from sales managers.
Another key advantage of an in-house sales trainer is that the trainer will have the advantage of disseminating new information and best practices to the team faster and with better retention. Modern selling is complex and competitive. Companies that adopt faster gain a competitive advantage. For example, some companies trained their teams on virtual selling pre-pandemic and were better positioned to capitalize on the government-imposed travel bans. Other companies integrated social selling into their sales process while others still lack a formal social selling process. These are just two examples of sales skills an inhouse sales trainer can work with the sales team on.
The fact is, however, there is a finite number of talented sales trainers in any market. The train-the-trainer approach can allow you to develop your current employee for the sales trainer position without having to go outside the company and conduct an extensive and expensive job search. With an internal sales trainer, continuous skills development can become part of the culture.
The Outsourced Method of Sales Training
There are a variety of valid reasons you may want to find a partner to conduct your sales training. First and most obviously, you have no formal training in place and the sales team is not meeting expectations. When a sales team is underperforming, leadership has a few options–hope it gets better, fire the reps they have and find new ones, or provide sales enablement through sales training.
Obviously, hope is not a strategy, so it comes down to fire or training. If the current sales reps have only received product training without formal sales training, bringing in an outside sales trainer with a proven track record and experience is a valid option.
Another reason to partner with a sales training company is when your team is scaling and you need to get reps up to speed quickly. Outsourcing your sales training will significantly decrease the amount of time it would take to bring your new hires up to speed. When outsourcing is done correctly, you turn each member of your sales team into a more productive and efficient employee.
Also, when new hires are introduced to sales training by a professional training organization, it introduces them to a culture of training. We often hear from students of our training classes that they wished they would’ve received this training during their first sales job. When a new hire starts on day one with a formal sales training curriculum, it sets a precedent that their role is valued.
Finally, outsourced sales training can be more cost-effective than in-house development and administration costs. Your key sales leaders stay focused on their primary roles, drive revenue, and sales staff retention increases. In addition, you have the flexibility of adding or subtracting resources as needed, without adding headcount to the company payroll. In addition, you’re investing in a methodology that, such as Janek’s Critical Selling Skills methodology, is based on research and was designed from the ground-up to provide a positive, long-term impact in your staff and your sales organization.
Every business has a variety of options when it comes down to sales training. One thing is indisputable–without regular and consistent training your sales team will have a hard time meeting your sales revenue expectations. Whichever sales training method you choose, you are planting seeds and preparing your team and company for the future. Without a formal sales training process in place, you’re saying you are confident you hired all the right people and sales skill development is not necessary. This is like a farmer who says they planted all their seeds, and all they have to do now is sit back and wait for the harvest.
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