From ordering more stock and improving product quality to upgrading essential equipment and opening new premises, there are several areas of a business where money can be spent. All of these will attempt to make an impact, whether it’s to enhance the customer experience or boost employee productivity.
But at the end of the day, profit and prosperity will come down to one thing – sales. Failing to generate enough money through the sale of products and services will cause any business to collapse.
To ensure a steady stream of sales are being achieved, there are a number of different options. However, investing in sales training can be the most effective and influential.
The problem with this is that various organisations and their employees have a rather unfavourable view of training. Some view it as a pointless waste of time, while others feel disengaged and uninterested with the whole process, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
If carried out in the right way, using the right teaching techniques and learning methods, sales training can have an extremely beneficial impact on any organisation’s activity.
Lead by example
If your sales team can see that even senior executives and managers want to improve their knowledge, they will be more receptive and eager to learn. Therefore, head honchos should lead by example and display a visible commitment to sales training.
Reiterate its importance to the business
Training can often be seen as an extracurricular activity, completely detached from the organisation’s objectives. But if you reiterate its importance to the business and spell out the desired results, training can make a bigger impression on employees.
Create an environment that supports behavioural change
With training, your sales staff will be given the opportunity to increase their skill set and expertise. However, the impact greater knowledge can have will often depend on employee attitudes when back at work. Therefore, remove any obstacles that prevent changes from being implemented and focus on the accountability for behaviour change in participants and their managers.
Devise a long-term plan for sales training
Before training takes place, come up with a plan that prioritises long-term implementation. This should include reinforcement, follow up and measurement. Sales training will be much more effective and influential if it is an integral part of the business.
Support employees in other ways
If you continually train your sales staff, they will become capable of carrying out other roles and will develop a desire to do better. Therefore, support your employees in other ways, such as assistance with career development and providing promotion opportunities.
Always analyse and evaluate
What is the point in conducting sales training if you fail to analyse or evaluate the results? By using a Leading Indicator Evaluation survey or Retrospective Behaviour Change survey, you can monitor the progress of employees and adjust your training activity accordingly.
Increase communication and creativity
Before, during and after training takes place, set aside some time to interact with employees and encourage creativity. For example, you can send out newsletters and emails that publicise success or capitalise on gamification to provide sales staff with a fun way of learning.
For sales training to work, it needs to reflect what the customers want at that moment in time and include teaching about current trends in order to be relevant. Currently, that includes the following:
Buyers are more intelligent than ever before – Thanks to the Internet, buyers are able to conduct research into products and find out about the brands they want to buy from. This means that sales people come into contact with customers at a much later point in the buying cycle, so tailor training to take this into account.
Customers have access to multiple touch-points – While searching for product and company information, customers can interact with multiple touch-points, which calls for sales staff to communicate through a number of different mediums. Ensure employees know about these channels to facilitate the best customer experience possible.
Sales staff are still in the driving seat – Despite the rise of online shopping and the ability to purchase products at any time and any place, sales staff still have a great deal of influence over decisions. Your employees have the power to establish trust, understand buyer motives and provide appropriate solutions.
Although a recent study by Training Industry found that 81 per cent of organisations believe sales training programmes are somewhat or very effective, sustaining this impact is another question altogether. In fact, it is fair to say that sales training isn’t effective if it cannot be sustained over a prolonged period of time.
Thankfully, there are a few different strategies and approaches you can adopt, which will ensure training continues to be influential and fruitful long after it has taken place.
Implement post-training development plans – This should be thought about before training and will put on record the hopes you have for sales staff. Think of ways you can help employees apply what they learnt and how to replace old behaviours with new knowledge.
Introduce individual feedback sessions – Just because a few members of staff are achieving more sales does not mean to say all employees are succeeding. At the same time, those who are doing better could get complacent if they do not receive praise or reassurances. Therefore, introduce individual feedback sessions to sustain success.
Embrace the power of gamification – As mentioned previously, gamification has the potential to increase the impact of sales training, but it can also help staff retain and apply newly acquired knowledge. Competition and leaderboards will encourage sales staff to do better, while the fun of gaming keeps interest levels high.
Use mobile devices to your advantage – Desktop-only training apps and solutions are far from ideal into today’s workplace, as both customers and employees prefer to use smartphones and tablets when carrying out or completing certain tasks. But rather than being a workplace distraction, mobile devices can help your business sustain the impact of training through easy access to materials and resources.
Invest in sustaining sales training success – Paying out for training is sure to be a significant expense, but you shouldn’t avoid other areas of investment, as they can be equally influential. Therefore, put money aside for communication, assessments, evaluations, training aids and gamification.
In a word, yes. While digital forms of publicity and online shopping platforms provide customers with the opportunity to discover product information and make an instantaneous purchase, the power and potential of sales staff should not be underestimated.
If these employees are given the opportunity to learn new skills and adopt different behaviours, they can become even more effective at selling. However, it is crucial that businesses recognise current trends, introduce the latest technology and integrate new methods of teaching in order to reap the rich rewards training can afford.