Six Tips for Making Sales Training Stick

Have you ever introduced a new sales training program and had it fall flat? Change is hard, and convincing other people to change is harder. Your sales representatives probably feel comfortable doing what they've always done. They may feel suspicious or scared of trying something new. And they certainly don't want to adversely affect their commissions by doing something they aren't convinced will work. 

However, if you're changing things up with the sales training, it means you have a new and better way that will help their job be easier and more productive. All you need to do is convince them of that fact. Here are six tips for getting everyone excited and making sure your new training program sticks:

Talk it Up

Don't just spring a set of new selling techniques on your sales team without warning. Make their expectations work for you. Start a few weeks before you'll be introducing a new program, and give them a few exciting teasers. Tell them how much the new sales training will help, using statistics and specific examples to show concrete ways it will improve their selling. Use your own sales techniques to sell them on your new program. Talk about their pain points, and how this great new training will address them. Send out memos and invitations, have your managers mention it with excitement, and make the launch a big event. Helping your sales team believe that your training program will help them succeed is more than half the battle.

Make Sure Management is On Board

Before you roll out anything new to your sales teams, make sure your sales managers are comfortable with it. Implement a "train the trainer" program. Give your managers opportunities for input, and help them feel that your sales training program is also theirs. If management feels uncomfortable with your training, they may well be undermining it, either overtly or more subtly. Getting complete buy-in from your sales managers is the best way to ensure that your message will be passed on effectively to the front line sales representatives.

Call in the Big Guns

Is your sales department in need of some revitalization? Sometimes the best thing you can do for your team is to call in some outside help. A sales training company can not only bring in new techniques and systems, but can also present information in a new and more digestible way. Specialized sales training can build confidence in your sales team and give them new tools for tackling their challenges. For maximum effect, consider asking your sales training company to lead your team in conducting a sales blitz, which will give them an immediate and practical application for their new skills, as well as filling their pipeline for the future.

Regularly Reinforce

Humans learn by repetition. Skills that aren't practiced tend to wither away, like atrophying muscles. Be sure that any new techniques are incorporated into regular review sessions. Conduct ride-alongs and role-plays to ensure that your sales people are practicing their skills on a regular basis. If you don't already hold consistent sales meetings at least once a week (often daily is preferable), start right away! If you have hired an outside sales training company, consider having them come back in several months for a refresher, or explore the possibility of ongoing training via internet video sessions.

Incentivize Compliance

You probably already reward your sales team with commissions based on sales performance, as well as spiffs or other sales contest prizes. However, if you've recently taught them a new behavior or technique, consider rewarding them directly simply for performing that action as you've instructed. The immediate reward will help them overcome any doubts they have about its effectiveness, build positive associations, and provide them with opportunities to see it work.

Solicit Feedback

Don't just talk. Listening is important too. After an intensive training session, send out a survey to find out what they thought was helpful, what seemed challenging, and what was just plain bad. If you're concerned about getting honest answers, make the survey anonymous. Instruct your sales managers to ask their reps for feedback on trainings, and for their own ideas. Making training a two-way conversation will help your sales team feel more invested in the process and potentially add great value to your training program.

Netpique sales outsourcing offers customized sales training programs, as well as comprehensive sales consulting. Contact us to find out how we can help you implement a more effective sales training program in your company.