A training manual is typically written with great care, following a style guide and listing every single detail in drawn-out paragraphs. It’s also likely to be forgotten, even before the sales rep gets their hands on it.
While written documentation is helpful for referencing policies, the real way to train a new salesperson involves hands-on techniques that actually show instead of just tell a salesperson what to do.
1. Role Playing
Conversations can be started with even the busiest of people, and saying the right things can make them want to carve out time for future interactions. Role playing is one of the best ways of practicing how to get the edge when there’s a limited amount of time. Reps can get feedback about their attitude, confidence, tone, and body language that they will hopefully take to heart.
Awkwardness can kill a conversation before it even starts, and so can a lack of listening. Clients typically never have to qualify exactly why they rejected someone, which means that role playing is a time to get those answers in a supportive environment.
Every person in the world is driven by rewards, but salespeople in particular respond to set milestones. These rewards don’t have to be gift certificates or bonuses. Sometimes the glory comes from friendly competition, and other times it just comes from getting the plaque or certificate as a symbol of doing hard work.
One thing to remember is that you are trying to inspire the team you’re given, meaning you’ll probably have to learn more about them before you decide which rewards are going to be worth dangling in front of them.
If you sit sales reps down for a meeting and talk at them for an hour, then you’re not allowed to be surprised when they don’t remember anything.
Typically half the total information delivered during training is lost to sales reps within a few weeks, unless they’re using the information on a daily basis. You’ll get more interest and retention if you use text messages rather than long emails, or have short meetings where employees have the opportunity to ask questions about small, digestible pieces of information. Also, beware of over-training sales reps as it’s been known to break down confidence. Use small bits of encouragement as a part of micro-learning too.
4. Constructive Feedback
Feedback has been a consistent suggestion throughout this post because it works. When reps are given certain tasks to achieve, they want to know how they’re faring in the eyes of their managers.
You don’t have to give people compliment sandwiches or sugarcoat your feedback to protect their feelings. Just be honest, let them know where they stand, and give them the opportunity to use their voice if they’re frustrated. You should never hire people who aren’t open and receptive to tweaking their approach to sales, so hopefully you won’t get a lot of pushback when it comes to this training technique.
5. Integrating With Other Departments
Sales training changes over time, which often means that one department is up-to-date while others aren’t quite sure what the protocol is. This can end up confusing human resources, upper management, or even older sales reps who have had very different training. This can also lead to sales reps getting conflicting advice about what they’re supposed to do, and how their first few months will be at the company.