What have you been doing recently to improve the selling skills of your team? With the growth of online sales newsletters, you now have an inexpensive way to conduct weekly sales training and coaching sessions with your team using the skill ideas being offered in these (normally) free newsletters.
Though sales training tends to work best when conducted on a weekly basis this type of training/coaching process can still be valuable to you and your team on any type of regular schedule that fits your culture and environment. This training can also be done over telephone conferencing if your team is spread out geographically.
Consider implementing the following four efforts to begin successfully your own regularly scheduled in-house sales training program.
1st Gain Buy-in From Your People to Participate In Your Ongoing Sales Training
The first step to starting your own in-house sales training program is to gain the buy-in and support from your entire sales team. There is nothing more frustrating than investing time and energy to try to increase the skills of someone who does not want to be helped.
You need to talk personally with each member of your sales team sharing with them your goals for this training and coaching, your interest in helping them improve their selling skills and your desire to help them make more money. You next want to ask for their support and commitment to participate in your training sessions and to work to try these new ideas in their territory.
You will most likely need to deal with some resistance from your more experienced reps since most believe they do not need any sales training or skill building. It is the bias most experienced sales professionals have of believing that “experience = trained.” Unless you have many newly hired sales people, consider positioning this program as “advanced training for already experienced sales professionals.”
Get their agreement to try this as a 90-day experiment. Ask everyone to agree to participate and to work at implementing the ideas to be discussed each week. A great way to get the buy-in from an especially senior sales rep is to ask them to help you with the training and to participate actively as a sign of support for the rest of the team.
2nd Set Up A Regular Sales Training Meeting Schedule and Training Meeting Agenda
Once you have the buy-in from your team then your next effort is to set up the frequency and agenda for your training classes.
Assuming you want to meet with your team weekly then which day and time of the week would be least disruptive to your team? Most find first thing in the morning as the best time to meet before everyone scatters solving problems and making outside sales calls.
Your meeting only needs to be an hour each week. You want to keep to a tight and consistent meeting schedule so your people trust they will be done on time each week.
You want to pick an article, audio recording, or video clip to discuss for each meeting; we will talk about where to get these training ideas in a moment. The idea is to use these articles and/or recordings to inject a new selling idea or concept each week to your team. You want to give them the article or audio to review a few days before your next training session.
You now, as the facilitator, only need to lead your people on a discussion of this material. This prevents you from needing to do a lot of preparation to be a “stand up” trainer for your team. Taking the pressure off you to be the sales expert allows for open discussion with your team as you all learn and discuss these new selling ideas together.
The meeting agenda itself is only based on you asking five questions of your team. The first question as you begin your hour of training is to ask your team “So what successes or challenges did you have this last week trying the idea we all promised to implement during our last training class?” Your debriefing needs to last less than ten minutes.
Your second question is to ask them “What’d you think of this week’s assigned article?” This is an open-ended question to get them talking. You want to make sure the conversations stay positive and “future focused.” We want to focus on moving forward with new skills, not lamenting why we have never done it that way in the past. A good plan is to limit this discussion time to twenty minutes or less.
Your third question is to move the discussion forward by asking, “How relevant is this selling idea to us and our business?” This encourages discussing how this selling concept could actually be utilized in their selling efforts and allows you to talk about how this idea could (or needs to) be implemented by your team. Plan on this part of the discussion also taking twenty minutes or less.
Your fourth question should take less than ten minutes to discuss as you ask, “What do you plan on doing new or different this week based on what we’ve been talking about?”
Then your fifth and final question is to ask for feedback to insure your training is still a positive and helpful investment of everyone’s time and energy. This is also a great question to ask each team member “one-on-one” to insure your training is contributing to your team’s efforts, and is still seen as a good idea. If you get negative feedback for your training, you might consider covering more advanced sales concepts.
Look how easy this is to conduct in-depth sales training! By only asking five questions, you now have an effective ongoing coaching and training process established to help your experienced team get even better!
3rd Establish an Ongoing Supply of Sales ideas and Concepts to Use For Your Training
Once you have established the frequency and agenda for your training classes then your third effort is to establish an ongoing source of new sales ideas to discuss. You have two sources for ongoing training materials. Your first alternative is to purchase sales audios and videos and the second alternative is to take advantage of the free sites publishing sales training articles.
With purchased materials, you tend to receive more in-depth and better-organized training concepts. Published audio training programs will give you a multiple class training process that can allow you to go into more depth with your team as they learn new skills.
We have published a variety of audio sales training programs and will be happy to offer suggestions for training your team. You can check out my audio training programs at www.pancero.com or by calling me at 800-526-0074.
Your second alternative is to take advantage of the free materials available online. The only downside to using these free resources is your training topics will tend to jump around a lot and not cover any specific topic or skill in much depth.
An “almost free” offer is to subscribe to the various printed monthly sales magazines including “Selling” Magazine and “Selling Power” Magazine. You also might find some great sales articles in your industry association magazines.
However, an even better source is online. Most professional sales trainers or training companies now publish monthly (or in some cases…even weekly) electronic sales newsletters to support their existing customers and to gain more exposure promoting their training business. These monthly electronic newsletters are a great source of articles to use in your training.
4th Start Improving the Skills of Your People, With Ongoing “One-On-One” Discussions and Coaching Follow-up
Once you have organized and established your in-house training it is now time to start holding meetings! As your team’s sales coach, you need to talk with sales team members several times during the week to discuss their progress trying and implementing this week’s sales idea. The success of your sales training will center on your ability to be an ongoing coach and leader in between your training classes. Your training will quickly die if you do not actively engage each sales team member on a regular basis.
You will also need to hold team members accountable to you and their commitment to participate in your training. You will most likely need to double check with each team member prior to your first few classes to insure they did read or listen to the assignment for your next class. Your sales training will collapse if you allow any team members to come to your meetings unprepared.
Today’s selling environment continues to become even more challenging, competitive, and demanding. Improving the skills, structures and selling philosophies of every member of your sales team is one of the most important efforts of support you can be providing your team.
After all, we know you and your team are good, now the question is are you good enough and involved enough to lead your team to improving their selling skills and success?