Sales Training: A Buyer's Guide
A successful sales department is the keystone of any business. Whether your company is selling to consumers by phone or to large organisations face-to-face, a motivated, knowledgeable, honest and reliable sales team will add to your bottom line as well as adding value for your customers. But salespeople don’t normally develop these qualities all by themselves. The art of sales is as old as money itself (perhaps even older) and while some individuals are uniquely talented, all can benefit from the received wisdom of more experienced, wiser heads.
This Buyers’ Guide has been written in partnership with Sales Training business expert Sales Doctor who deliver 100% bespoke training courses around your business and team’s needs.
Sales Training: The Benefits
The modern business environment is akin to a precision engineering facility, the companies, departments and staff members within it like machines and instruments. We demand precise data from each; measurable statistics that record the expenditure, revenue and profitability of each component so that performance can be enhanced, efficiency maximised.
In such an environment it is easy to forget human factors, to neglect paying attention to the very human nature of some of the jobs and roles of those we employ. Selling is a thoroughly human act. A salesperson is an interpreter, a communicator bridging the gap between the selling organisation and the buying organisation, smoothing the path that allows each to do business with the other. A good salesperson will see themselves as a professional in this role and will strive to continuously develop their skills, always reminding themselves of where they excel and where they need to improve.
An appropriate and well delivered sales training programme will:
- Inform: A good salesperson will have an innate talent, a gut instinct for how to operate at the sharp end of the sales process. But without the right framework for developing this talent all that great potential could remain untapped. Giving names to the processes involved in sales and identifying individual areas of excellence or improvement in a systematic way can help unleash this potential and turn a good salesperson into a great one.
- Motivate: When your sales team think of themselves as professionals striving towards the peak of their own development, motivation becomes self-sustaining. Every success is a reinforcement of what they’ve learned, every failure spurring them on to do better next time.
- Inspire: Knowing that your company is investing in the development of its workforce, that it aspires to excellence and that it is prepared to take a risk on you as an individual is fantastic inspiration. This is especially important for someone working in a role that relies heavily on belief and confidence.
- Unite: Undertaking a sales training course together is a fantastic bonding exercise for any team. Being able to discuss together what they’ve learned, the fostering of friendly competition, the ability to measure themselves against each other in definable ways and knowing how to assist each other more effectively can all enhance team togetherness and unity of vision.
Sales Training: Types and Methods
Broadly speaking there are two main types of sales training courses:
- Bespoke Courses: Fully tailored to your company and delivered only to members of your staff, a bespoke course can take place at your premises, at a dedicated training centre or at a neutral venue. The training provider will deliver content that matches your objectives for the training course in a method that suits your sales method and clientele.
- Open Courses: This is where you’ll send one or more salespeople to a classroom based course at an outside venue. The course will also have attendees from other companies so the content will be more general, perhaps providing an overview of the whole sales process or concentrating on specific elements that are widely applicable.
Tips for Choosing Bespoke Courses
As you’d expect, there are a wide variety of different sales training companies with varying methodologies and approaches, from those that offer older ‘push-pressure’ style techniques to ones which prefer newer style ‘buyer facilitation’ or ‘consultative selling’ methods.
Which of these styles will be more appropriate for your company will depend heavily on what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, and the characteristics of the team or individual to whom the training will be delivered. When weighing up different training providers it’s important that you speak to the person who will actually deliver the course – if you’re going to be investing heavily in training you’ll probably want to meet them. Look for answers to the following questions:
- Will they fit in with your team? Do they have the right approach and manner to elicit a response from your salespeople?
- Is their approach appropriate to the products and/or services you provide?
- Do they have an understanding of your industry? Have they trained people from your industry before?
- What is their sales background? Are they teaching from experience or theory alone?
Just as important as the content of the course is the ability of the trainer to deliver that content in an engaging manner that is appropriate to your team. Ask as many questions as you need to get a clear picture of the dynamic they’ll create with your people in the training room.
Bespoke training is generally more expensive than open training so it can be tempting to cram as many of your staff into the training room as possible to maximise your value. However, this can have the opposite effect as the personal attention each attendee receives is reduced, the room becomes harder to manage and the quality of the training suffers overall. In general, a group of 8 people will be far more productive and produce much better results than a group twice as large.
Hint: When comparing quotes for bespoke training check whether the expenses of the trainer visiting your company are included in the quote and won’t appear for the first time on your bill.
Tips for Choosing Open Courses
Again, the style and approach of the company delivering the training is something you’ll need to investigate yourself in order to ensure a good match for your people and products. But with open courses, where the content is not tailored to your company, you’ll also need to make sure you’re picking the right course to match your needs and objectives.
There are multitudes of training companies all offering courses with different titles. Look carefully at the content of courses in order to assess their appropriateness for your sales people and your business. Some things to consider:
- How are your people selling? Courses can be selected which are aimed at telesales staff, salespeople in the field, account management or combinations.
- How long have they been selling? Some courses are aimed at the introductory level while others assume a certain level of experience.
- At what level are they selling? Courses aimed at the management level will differ from those aimed at staff at the coal face.
- What do you want your people to learn? Are there particular aspects of the sales process you want to focus on or do want the course to cover the whole gamut?
- What do you want to achieve? Perhaps it isn’t a question of learning new skills but reinforcing good practices and motivating your sales people. There are courses that are set up to achieve these ends too.
Hint: Find out how many attendees will be on the course with your staff. How much will your salesperson learn in a room with 50 other people?
Sales Training: Costs
There’s no hard and fast rule for working out sales training costs – the number of different training providers and courses prevents such generalisations. We can however provide you with a few factors to consider when pricing up and comparing courses:
- Method of charging: Bespoke training is normally charged at a day rate, whereas open courses give a price per person. Work out the overall cost of each option in order to compare.
- Length of course: Does one company offer to deliver in two days what another can do in three? Does this sound reasonable or will your sales people be struggling to keep up?
Hint: Very little can be achieved with a course lasting a single day. Almost all open courses are at least 2 days in length – if a company is offering to cover the same ground in one session, be wary.
- Track record: Look at the background of the companies you’re considering. Have they won any awards or do they have testimonials from prestigious clients to back up their prices?
- Transparency: How open is each training company about their costs? Do they publish prices on their website or in brochures? If not, why not?
There’s no getting around it: sales training can be expensive, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds per person. But if the training is relevant, well delivered and reinforced by ensuing practice it can dramatically enhance the effectiveness and profitability of your sales operation. Going into the process with realistic and well thought out aims and objectives can help you find a course of sales training that will pay for itself many times over.
This Buyers’ Guide has been written in partnership with Sales Training business expert Sales Doctor.
About Sales Doctor: Sales Doctor delivers 100% bespoke training courses around your business and team’s needs. They have a unique three stage approach to tailor every course they deliver. They are sales people who train, as opposed to trainers who lecture. Therefore they can empathise with your team and can give real world answers to their problems. Your team will walk away enthused and start putting the new techniques straight into practice.