Reasons for Conducting Sales Training
- To address needs, challenges or weaknesses of the sales staff.
- Company / Product / Industry updates.
- Periodic selling skills development.
- Rollout of new company program or expectations.
- Incentive or reward for meeting quotas or goals.
- Team-building, idea sharing and motivation.
- To enhance annual sales meetings.
- Strengthening company reputation and employee loyalty.
Staff Needs Assessment
- List your sales force’s needs, challenges and weaknesses.
- List individual staff members’ needs, challenges and weaknesses.
- Use a questionnaire or interview salespeople to understand their learning goals and interests.
- Talk to senior management about their goals for staff training.
- Contact a few clients to obtain their opinions regarding your salespeople’s strengths and weaknesses.
Solidifying Your Goals for Training
- What are your goals for each participant?
- How do these goals address their specific needs, challenges and weaknesses?
- Are the members of your sales staff at different experience levels? Do they have different needs?
- What are the priority issues for each or for the group as a whole?
- Goals should be (1) specific, (2) attainable, (3) measurable, and (4) time-limited.
- How will training address these goals?
- What would a totally successful training result look like?
- What might stand in the way of this result?
What Type of Training is Needed?
- Foundational sales training for new or junior salespeople.
- Stimulus for satisfied under-achievers.
- Focused skills development for intermediate performers.
- Fine-tuning for seniors, and high achievers.
- Some combination of the above.
- The addressing of specific problem(s) or challenge(s).
- Motivational input during difficult times.
- Incentive or reward for sales goals reached.
What Form Should Training Take?
- Would training be more effective in a one-on-one / in-the-field format or as a group workshop (or as a combination of both)?
- Does staff and management have the desire, time, expertise to conduct “in-house” training or would an outside trainer be better equipped to objectively address the issues?
- Should training be interactive and based on facilitated discussion or should it be content-based?
- Should practice sessions and participant assignments be included?
- Would a one-time session be effective or should training be ongoing to ensure retention and application?
Group Workshop Considerations
- Who will attend?
- Who will facilitate, speak, announce, present, train? How will rapport be built with a trainer?
- What goal(s) do you have for the workshop? Group goals and specific individual goals.
- What will the agenda contain?
- What date(s).
- Allowing for sufficient preparation time.
- What type of meeting place environment will best support the goals? Keeping participants away from distractions or available for customers?
- What is the budget for the workshop?
- How might bringing national salespeople together be made cost effective?
- What pre-work / assignment will be given to participants? When? A book to read, questions to prepare, account problems to bring to work on…
- How will excitement about the workshop be created in advance?
- What equipment, materials will be needed?
- What additional activities will be included?
- Meal(s), Break refreshments, contests, award presentations, sports, other activities…
- What backup provisions should be put in place while participants are occupied in the workshop?
- What follow-up activities would be helpful for reinforcing concepts covered? Having participants create individual Action Plans for continued growth.
Individual Training Considerations
- Would personalized training be more effective for your sales group?
- Small number of salespeople, divergent training needs, prohibitive
- workshop costs…
- Do your staff’s training needs require medium or long-term attention?
- Would certain salespeople benefit from an ongoing accountability
- How can training be incorporated into the regular relationship between the sales manager and each of his staff? Monthly training follow-up sessions during sales performance
- Are sales managers fluent in the skills required to lead their staff to optimum performance? Might they benefit from help in rounding out their leadership skills?
- Do you have time to manage the developmental skills of each of your people or would assistance in certain areas benefit your bottom line?
Designing Your Program
- What will be the source of training content?
- How does this content speak to your goals?
- What resources can be tapped?
- Associations, industry literature, books, special speakers…
- What program format will best suit your purposes and resources?
- Content with time afterward for questions, answers and discussion.
- Facilitated large group brainstorming, idea sharing, and commenting.
- Small group problem solving, role playing and case study analysis.
- Large group input followed by dividing into small groups to discuss.
- Small group study with presentation of highlights to larger group.
- Should the format be formal or casual?
- Would workbook materials be helpful for communicating the content?
- Where would these materials come from?
- Should the program fit into any corporate program already exisiting?
- Who might be able to give input?
- Trainers, salespeople, editors, management, industry leaders, customers,
- suppliers, association representatives…
- Outline the agenda.
- Session titles and objectives, start times, break times, ways to give feedback, resources, speakers, expectations, ending times…
- Give opportunity for participants to give feedback halfway through and to evaluate the program’s usefulness when it is finished.
- What can be done to make the training effect “last”?
- What strategy should be put in place to keep training topics “top of mind”?
- E-mail, books and tapes, follow-up meetings conducted by
- managers or trainer, Action Plan creation and monitoring.
- Ad manager follow-up on subjects that the salesperson is studying.
- Follow-up sessions can be scheduled to review and add to what has been
- What worked well and should be continued or repeated?
- What didn’t work and how might it be eliminated or modified next time?
- What was the reaction from participants, management, facilitators, trainers?