Your company has made your development as a sales professional a core part of their strategy, so you are about to enroll in a sales training program. Whether this training will be a one-time event or ongoing, online or in person, you’ve been given a great opportunity to significantly improve your selling skills and increase your sales. Unfortunately, we see many folks squander this opportunity. So, here are some helpful tips to getting the most out of your training experience.
Pre Sales Training
“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax" - Abraham Lincoln
Successful sales people prepare. When you are on the field selling, you know that preparation can make the difference between winning and losing. Well, it's the same thing when it comes to improving sales skills from sales training. If you want to get a good return on the time and energy you'll invest in your training sessions, you need to come prepared. Here are a couple of things you should do before you show up for sales school:
- Identify your opportunities. Think about your selling style and your sales skills. What particular selling skills (cold calling, asking good questions, handling objections, etc.) or parts of the selling process (prospecting, presenting, account management, etc.) would you like to enhance? Make a list of your areas of improvement and make sure to be particularly attentive during training sessions that cover them. You should also come up with questions to ask the instructor or your peers that will help address these elements.
- Be prepared to share. What are some things you've learned in your selling career? What are some skills and techniques you've developed that have helped you be successful? Perhaps you've got the secret to great referrals, or you've seen success in generating leads through LinkedIn and other social media. Write down your success or failure stories and any specific selling tips from your sales experience. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to share them with the training class.
- Pre-Work. In most cases there may be pre-work to complete. Make sure you do it. Coming prepared to the session is just as important as being engaged in the session.
Post Sales Training
Learning doesn’t end in the classroom. You need to embrace newly learned concepts and put them into action everyday so you don't lose them. Here are some tips to maximize the return on your classroom experience post training:
- What are the things you were going to change? Go back to the list you developed before the session. How are you doing? What can you do better? What haven’t you tried yet?
- Use it or lose it! Just like muscles toned through a good work out, to maintain our new selling skills, we need to use them. And the more you use them, the stronger the skills become. Don’t let your initial hard work go to waste.
- Set some goals for the next week. Think about your upcoming calls or meetings and consider ways to apply ideas from the training. What questions will you ask? Will you tell a story? Have you set a clear objective?
- Refresh using the pre-work. Carve out 10 minutes every other day to revisit one of the pre-work materials. You might be surprised at some of the helpful ideas and tips you missed the first time around.
- Support an improvement culture. Learning should be a team sport. Be a role model and encourage each other to embrace the new selling techniques learned in sales training. Better yet, actively share tips and lessons learned with your colleagues. Are you a seasoned sales professional? If so, ask your manager(s) if you can help them coach and support the less-experienced sales reps. Teaching selling concepts enhances one's understanding of them, so training others will help you truly master the concepts.
Key Lessons to Remember for 4th Quarter Selling
We just turned the clock on the 4th quarter. All sales leaders focues on one last push to hit the numbers and it’s easy to fall back into old habits. But before you slip right back, be mindful of the things you learned in training. Here are a few reminders for your next sales call:
- Take a few minutes to plan out your calls. Great sales call planning starts with clear and SMART objectives. Don’t forget to think through your opener and prepare your discovery questions in advance.
- Role play key parts of your call. Ask your manager or a colleague to help you prep for you next meeting by playing the role of the agent or employer. Practicing how you’re going to deliver an insight or message can make all the difference.
- Share your stories. We all know the power of stories in sales. Continue to build your arsenal of great stories to make your presentations even more impactful.
- Tailor to the type of customer. Be mindful of the profiles of customers you’re working with. Most importantly, be sure to tailor your message to what’s driving their business not just what’s going to help you make your number.
It’s just as easy for managers to get back into their comfort zone. Set a great example by doing the following:
- Encourage role plays. Continue to build off the momentum from the sessions by having your team practice elements of the sales call before an actual meeting.
- Ask for the plan. A great way to encourage better planning is to review call plans for key upcoming sales meetings.
- Actively coach. Take the time to reinforce good behaviors and identify any opportunities for improvement.
- Share practices and celebrate success. Weekly meetings are a great time to review Monday Morning Meeting guides, particularly sharing best practices and celebrating successful behaviors!
It’s that time of the year, where sales leaders look to see the return on the investments they’ve made in training. Following these tips will help you generate that return for the organization and your wallet!
About The Author
Ralph is a partner with The Brevet Group, and for 20 years he has led sales performance teams in the United States and Asia. Recently he also served as a sales leader in both the media and technology industries. Ralph’s work has focused on a unique blend of management consulting and sales enablement to help companies execute their sales strategies. Prior to this role, Ralph was the APAC sales effectiveness leader at Mercer.