There is a lot of pressure on your B2B sales teams. The numbers don’t lie: 30-50% of closed sales, for example, go to the vendor that responds the fastest. They have to be quick to the punch or miss out on revenue opportunities. Also, 80% of sales require a minimum of 5 follow-ups to actually close. They need to put out a lot of effort. It can be very stressful. Unless, that is, they’re trained properly and effectively before being sent out to do their jobs.
No matter how skilled or talented a sales team is, they’re going to require training because each company is different in too many ways and aspects. In many ways, the same can be said of products and services. While skill and talent will go far, equipping your B2B sales teams with the knowledge and tools they need goes a long way towards their success. Let’s take a look at 5 tips sourced from the best sales teams that translate to effective training.
Tip #1: Incorporate Assessments as Part of Training
Many companies have training regimes that are very passive. They seem to think that just cramming all that information into their sales reps is sufficient. What this approach lacks is key assessment into whether or not they fully understand the materials and information that they’re consuming. Consumption ultimately is measured by completion of the course, assessment tells you how much they’re actually learned.
A common and easy assessment to include in your training are knowledge checks. These are quizzes and tests that you can have at the end of each particular discussion and can be multiple choice for easy answering. These can then be complemented by simulation activities like role-playing or practicing development of key pitches to be assessed by your training team. Finally, include observational assessments that gauge how your sales team applies what’s learned out in the field.
Tip #2: Lean on the Value of Peer Learning
91% of sales reps believe in the importance of peer learning as far as improving their performance is concerned. After all, there’s a lot that can be said about the value of experience, especially when they come from the veterans of your B2B sales teams. Sure, there’s value in a structured syllabus, but there are many aspects that can’t be covered except by those who have been on the frontlines and survived to fight another day.
One great way to do this is to invite your veterans to speak on video about scenarios that might be of value to newer team members. The reason for this is so that those particularly stand-out experiences should be saved for indefinite use to benefit sales teams through the years. After all, veterans move on to different jobs and companies or even retire. It would be a waste not to capture what they know for your sales teams’ continued benefit.
Tip #3: Include the Customer Experience in Training
A staggering 77% of buyers believe that sales reps don’t understand their needs at all. It’s a sobering number and one that’s the likely result of training that focuses exclusively on products and brand messaging. Not that either one isn’t important, but a lack of understanding of the customer side of things tends to leave you with spiels that sound cold and automatic and sales reps that aren’t inclined to be empathic.
One clear way out of this problematic setup is to throw in a deep dive into the customer journey. Call recordings from the most effective and least effective sales reps currently on your team will help here—which is why disclaimers for recordings exist. These will help your trainees have real world view of what it is like from the customers’ points-of-view and foster in them a deeper understanding and appreciation of their potential customers’ experiences.
Tip #4: Add in Objection Handling
Even the very best sales reps find their greatest challenges in customer objections. After all, nothing can stop a well-prepared and well-delivered spiel in its tracks more than a lead expressing doubts, exhibiting misunderstanding of what you offer, and pointing out limitations and drawbacks—or worse, indifference. Oftentimes, your reps and their confidence in the face of such objections can spell the difference between a closed sale and a missed opportunity.
Create training material that breaks down the basics of handling common objections. Focus on the potential reasons behind the objection in order for your reps to appreciate where the customer is coming from. Teach them not the direct responses they should give but rather stress the importance of analysis in order to give a counter that’s not only more natural-sounding but also indicative of genuine understanding.
Tip #5: Detail Your Process Clearly
All that out of the way, you also have to make sure that they fully understand your sales process. This begins, of course, with the actual steps to be taken as dictated by your sales strategy, but should also include the “why” behind those steps. While processes are naturally somewhat rigid, you should also add in training for many untoward scenarios that may arise. Where possible, factor in troubleshooting for scenarios that your sales teams have experienced through the years.
A great sales process moves beyond just one step after the other but rather takes into account the challenges that your sales teams are likely to face. So, even before training your sales reps, you need to make sure that your own processes are well-built. A shaky foundation here will translate to poor training and even poorer sales reps. Don’t be so focused on the training that you ignore what’s critical to begin with—a solid, grounded sales strategy.
Give Your Sales Teams The Edge
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