The art of leading your sales team to train each other.
By Russ Riendeau
Sales training can be costly, with travel, meals, and lodging adding up quickly. Even if you bring in a professional speaker or training company in-house, budgets or timing can be an issue. What else can you do?
Let me share one proven strategy to save you some cash, secure training, and produce results with a sales team-oriented approach to teaching each other.
Regardless of the size of your team, sales training is critical in this new world at work. Given that more than 75 percent of companies have not delivered any kind of formalized, professional sales training in the last 18 months, it should be no surprise when your sales numbers fall flat. Research shows that training that is not delivered/reviewed consistently is forgotten within weeks/months of instruction. Thus, repetitive, ongoing training—even if less sophisticated—is more effective.
Every business professional needs to hone skills, sharpen their intellect, and keep an edge to their sales presentations and approach to selling. Sales is hard enough emotionally without the challenge of not having the right mental attitude or current training to compete in 2017.
Here is one idea for sales leadership to incorporate each month or every other month as a conference call meeting or roundtable discussion. Head to YouTube and check out sales training and sales leadership videos (you will be amazed at all of the great, free stuff information you can find when you type in “Sales Training”). Request that each person on the sales team each find a training video and watch it. He or she then will present a summary of how it applies to your industry at the monthly meeting. Set the timer for three minutes, and have each team member present his or her written summary and the link of the video he or she found. This exercise provides the leadership team a multitude of benefits and data, such as:
- It gets them snooping around to find good training, so they will be exposed to more and different materials. This “rabbit hole” approach builds curiosity and habits of research.
- It gives them experience in presenting to an audience in order to hone their presentation skills.
- It gives you, the manager, a chance to see how they present and deliver new material. This will help you train them with more specific insights into their behavior, default speech patterns, nervous ticks, etc.
- It frees up more of your time to identify more specific areas of coaching the team needs. Let them do the heavy lifting of finding the training/motivational products that appeal to them, as these decisions are clues to what impacts/appeals to their mindset and training mentality.
- Assign a different sales team member to run the exercise each month. Remember the saying, “The teacher learns more than the students”? This approach builds accountability and gives them a chance to learn new skills in facilitating meetings, time management, and the art of tactful feedback while also building their confidence.
- Requiring the team to send out written summaries helps build confidence and competency in written communication. These regular practice sessions help you, the leader, save time editing contracts and letters/e-mails and avoid errors and costly mistakes when you do not have time to review everything and need to trust the team’s competency.
- If they do not complete the assignments or you start to see last-minute scrambling to get their assignments done, it is another clue to behavior, sales preparation habits, motivation, drive, etc.
- Save the links, download their summaries into a “Sales Training Folder” and start to build an easy-to-access Training Library for your company to help jumpstart new employees.
- This new Training Library will be a nice feature for recruiting talent as young talent wants/needs real-world training so they can see if your company is right for their career.
- It gives you, the manager, a chance to watch the team interact, and they begin to hold each other accountable for training deliverables.
- It gives you a great case study for your future discussions with other executives, vendors, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) you work with. Having a reputation of solid sales training and success keeps you top of mind with new products, perks, and trips in the works.
- This kind of accountability and training builds morale. Many salespeople, if remote, feel isolated and don’t get the same energy and attention, so the conference call meetings help reconnect them to the base camp.
- This training approach works in all parts of the company, and the same approach can be taken with warehouse staff, accounting, customer service, etc.
- Your ability to manage and coach larger and more sophisticated sales teams is critical for your career success and maintaining an income you desire. Being able to document and demonstrate how you implement this sort of training in your company goes a long way to creating job security, future job opportunities that may arise, or other chances to serve on committees, boards, or associations in your industry. This can help advance your status in the business community as a mentor, coach, and proven moneymaker.