A salesperson is the one who doesn’t think in term of sales rather believes in building a business. A set of unique personal attributes along with approach to work makes a complete salesperson. It is always difficult to recruit and retain productive salespeople.
So, Sales training is essential for new sales team members as well as experienced professionals to hone their skills to deliver results. As the various Aspects of Sales and Marketing change over time, it is necessary for the corporate sales team to receive training on a regular basis. Sales training keeps the corporate sales team up-to-date about changes in the market, new sales techniques, gaps in existing processes, and changes in the industry with respect to PESTEL factors.
The corporate sales team is the company’s first point of contact with its customers. Therefore, sales training for corporate sales team should be comprehensive and cover the entire range of processes, tools, and skills required from prospecting to closure. And in designing sales training programs, the requirements and experience levels of the sales team members are taken into consideration. If sales training does not match the team’s level of proficiency, it will not be effective and, its value may be questioned by the team.
Sales training should impart the following to the corporate sales team:
- Knowledge of sales processes: Sales training teaches the corporate sales team about the various processes involved in the sales cycle—prospecting, lead generation, qualification, needs assessment, presentation, and closure. For example, CRM training is essential for a sales team to learn how to plan sales activities by using a customer database to develop target lists and identify customer needs and customer potential for specific products and services.
- Knowledge of the industry, market, and target segment: This includes knowledge about competitors, understanding of the target segments, knowledge of macro-environmental factors that affect the industry, and knowledge of industry practices. For example, a supplier of manufacturing equipment needs to understand the production processes of its customers which will allow them to provide definite product recommendations to its customers to improve productivity, eliminate waste, or reduce manufacturing costs.
- Soft Skills: Soft Skills or People Skills are the personal traits that define an individual’s ability to communicate and interact with others. The six critical soft-skills for sales person are communication, flexibility, teamwork, positivity, time management and confidence. Soft skills help the corporate sales team develop and maintain good relationships with prospects and customers.
- Knowledge of tools and marketing resources: In addition to understanding the CRM system, sales personnel need to be aware of existing marketing resources such as presentation templates, e-mail templates, videos and other internal and external marketing assets that can be used during the sales process. For example, In L’Oreal a gap was seen in product knowledge within its sales team, so they carry out an e-learning program for empowering their team.
- Motivation: Motivating the corporate sales team is necessary to prevent lags and burnout. Motivational training is more important for existing corporate sales team members than new ones because of their longer exposure to achieving sales targets. For example, Best Buy Company used Path to Excellence initiative. Best Buy awarded sales force badges to ones who implemented concepts taught in training and badges led to four distinct levels of recognition, ranging from bronze to platinum.
- Business values and ethics: A corporate sales team that demonstrates good business values and ethics will have a significant effect on the success of the organization. The corporate sales team must be trained on business values and ethics, irrespective of their experience prior to joining the company.
There are various modes of delivering sales training to the corporate sales team:
- Classroom Training: An instructor in a lecture hall or classroom typically conducts classroom training. This provides a setting for participants to learn new skills and concepts, and to practice and demonstrate the learned skills.
- E-learning: In e-learning situations, training is delivered through electronic media and allows sales team to brush up their product knowledge. E-learning can be provided through instructor-led virtual sessions, using on-demand content stored in a central repository, or through online forums for collaborative learning.
- Libraries/Repositories: Corporate sales team can use industry reports, sales books, research data, and other texts to increase knowledge about the industry and to improve existing sales processes.
- On-the-Job Training: For effective real world training, new sales team members are paired with senior sales team members to learn actual sales processes. On-the-job training is traditionally the most commonly used mode of sales training. In Walgreens, “Well Experience” training was given in pharmacy environment to get a hands-on experience. They used games like merchandise scavenger hunts for sales team to familiarize with new store layouts.
Sales training can be carried out using a combination of the above modes of training based on company requirements. Continuous sales training is recommended for the corporate sales team.