Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

Average Sales VPs often mistake talent as being a static sales metric: you either have it, or you don’t.

The best Sales VPs know that the opposite is true – talent is a dynamic factor that can continue to be developed.

Most organizations have some form of sales training but lack a systematic approach for continuous skill advancement. As a top Sales VP, it is up to you to ensure that instead of waiting for talent to show up, you invest in developing it.

There are 4 crucial stages to structure your training around to produce optimal growth within your reps:

  • Pre-Session Preparation

  • Training Execution

  • Post Session Reinforcement

  • Measuring Results

Pre-Session Preparation

  • Choose the right topics – An effective sales training program should promote sustainable skill improvement rather than being company- or product-focused. In order to truly grab the attention of your reps, the skills you choose to develop must be valuable. What defines a valuable skill? One that is as complex as it is relevant. If a rep can learn this skill on his own, he is not as likely to be engaged in the session.

  • Set clear objectives – Reps like to be included in the decisions that pertain to them. Don’t keep the meeting a secret – be very open and clear as to why the training session is taking place and what you expect as the result. If the objective is quantifiable, even better. Reps will then be incentivized to actively monitor their own performance in respect to the goals.

  • Assign ‘homework’ – A training session has no hope of taking hold if your reps are not prepared to engage. Assign some pre-training work to get your reps acquainted on the material. Then, have them bring relevant examples and questions to make the training session more interactive.

Training Execution

  • Set expectations – Before the meeting, refresh everyone on the purpose of the training session and its desired outcome. List the main points and even take the time to write them out. Then, specify what is expected of the people during the meeting. Beginning a training session this way ensures everyone starts off on the same foot.

  • Cover the topic – This is the meat of the training session – the content. In this stage, it’s imperative you take the time to explain your concepts in a clear and concise manner. What is the skill you want your team to work on? Do you have slides, videos, or examples that can help reinforce the concept? As a bonus, you can have some of your top sales reps weigh in on these skills to add peer credibility.

  • Use case studies – Nothing cements an idea quite like using a real-life scenario. Explain an example where the skill wasn’t used properly and therefore produced a negative outcome. Then, refer to a case where the skill was effectively used to produce a desired outcome. Transforming theories into real concepts will ensure it sticks with your reps.

  • Role playing – While many VPs think it’s more important to explain a concept, the majority of the training session should be spent roleplaying. Why? Because roleplaying works. Have different reps perform the skill while the rest of the class watches and provides feedback. It’s not only extremely effective in helping your reps comprehend the skill, but it also promotes teamwork.

  • Wrap up and decide next steps – Once you feel your reps have understood the main purpose of the session, it’s time to wrap up with the key takeaways to solidify their understanding. Before you excuse them however, make sure you have received commitments from your reps on the behaviors they will change and the skills they will adapt. Then, ask for their opinions on how they want to be held accountable for implementing these skills and the kind of support they find most beneficial. This way, you end the meeting with a clear and agreed upon goal for the future.

Post-Session Reinforcement

  • Reinforcement – If you have no post-session plans for reinforcement, then you’re just wasting time. Reinforcement is they key to solidifying skills into a rep’s daily routine. There are several different kinds of reinforcement – below we have listed the most effective ones.

  • Peer Accountability – One of the strongest types of reinforcement comes from our peers. They are the most influential tools at your disposable and spend the most time interacting with your developing reps. Ensure that these prominent figures lead by example and reinforce the key concepts from the meeting.

  • Real-Time Coaching – Nothing helps you understand how well your reps are implementing their training like observing them directly. Spend some time on the floor watching your reps to see if they are utilizing their newfound skills and stepping in when they are using them incorrectly. Real-time coaching is very effective in eliminating poor behavior.

  • 1-1 Meetings – Setting time aside to discuss individual progress will show the reps you’re serious. If they see that it’s important to you, it will become extremely important to them. This time can also double as personalized coaching if a rep requires additional advice or assistance.

  • Positive Reinforcement – While observing your reps, openly promote those who are successfully applying the learned concepts. Making good behavior known fosters feelings of good-will and encourages reps to keep trying.

Measuring Results

Before embarking on this sales training journey, you had a clear objective – a particular goal you were trying to achieve. Was it achieved? What are the indicators of this success? The skill you were attempting to teach will determine the exact sales performance metrics. To make it easier however, we have broken down these indicators into five different levels:

  1. Observed change in behavior

  2. Deal Advancement

  3. Deals Won

  4. Quota Attainment

  5. Margin and Revenue

Each of these levels represent a different stage of learning – observing a change in behavior is only the first step. Once you see these skills start impacting the bottom line, you will know that the training session has come full circle.

 

Talent is not a static metric. Cultures at top-performing sales businesses stress continual training and reinforcement of skills. The reps who you spend time on developing will reward you with their improved performance. Only the best Sales VPs understand the value in developing their talent and will invest the time into doing so.

Have you been investing time into your sales reps’ training? Share your thoughts below!

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