Do You Have a Sales Training Program in Place?

Devon-McDonald by

Step back for a minute and ask this question: Are you confident in your sales training program?

If not, it’s time to temper your expectations. Realistically, without a solid sales training program, it might be a while before your new hire turns into that projected rock star and begins raking in the deals.

The truth is, a lot of companies have pretty poor sales training programs. All too often, sales training becomes a mishmash of content and info collected from different departments (marketing, product, etc.), overwhelming and confusing the new rep. In a blog post on his website, Steve Richard, the co-founder of sales training and coaching firm Vorsight, terms that training style “Death by Powerpoint.”

That method is not effective and will more than likely hurt your reps more than help them. Is that really what you want to happen to your newly hired, future champion? I doubt it.

In order to have the fastest ramp up time, an expansion stage company’s sales training program needs to be well-thought-out and completely buttoned up prior to the rep’s start date. And, while it is important for each of your company’s different departments to play a role in the new hire’s onboarding, the sales manager (more so than other department leaders) really needs to step up to the plate. They must implement a fully-baked training program that’s geared specifically toward selling.

Keep in mind that no two sales organizations are exactly the same. Even if you’re bringing in a rep with several years of experience, they will still have a lot to learn about how your business sells.

So, what exactly do you need in your sales training program?

Here are 11 components of a well-rounded, well-structured sales training program:

  • Objection Handling: Entrepreneur Mark Suster penned an article for GigaOM last fall that addressed the importance of managing objections. Included in his post are some common objections and a few ideas for teaching your sales staff to handle them.
  • Scripts (email and verbal): A great sales script should be concise, to the point, and present your product or service’s value proposition.
  • Qualifying questions: Asking well-researched, intelligent qualifying questions will help your reps earn respect from the prospects they call. Make sure your reps know what they are.
  • Model day for success: A model day for success is the pinnacle of a well-structured day for your sales team — and perhaps your entire organization. Model days set the standard for how to delegate and categorize activities to promote productivity.
  • Activity metrics and measurements: Monitoring these will paint an objective picture of how your team is performing, provide drivers for success, and create a sense of urgency and commitment.
  • A mapped out sales process: It should be concise, well-organized, and efficient. A sales process that isn’t mapped out or is too complex is a recipe for disaster when trying to train a new sales rep.
  • The sales methodology: It’s crucial to gather information about your company’s sales process methodology and provide it to new hires.
  • Definitions of each stage of the process: Most importantly, defining what exactly qualifies as an “opportunity?”
  • Relevant resources: This can include organizational charts, roles and responsibilities, and territory maps.
  • FAQs: Most new hires will have a lot of the same questions when they’re getting started. Providing a sheet of frequently asked questions will help minimize any potential confusion.
  • Information about the prospects’ persona, business model, and most common pain points: Everyone needs to be on the same page with those issues. Clarity and knowledge are key when your reps prepare to make calls to prospects.

At the moment, OpenView Managing Director Brian Zimmerman and myself are creating an assessment and best practices guide for establishing sales training programs. We’ll publish it soon, but until then I’d suggest considering each of the bullet points above.

Start by asking: What does your sales training program look like? How long is your ramp up time? Are you overwhelming your new employees with unnecessary information?

Every company wants their new hires to become sales rock stars. The question is: Are you setting them up to be extremely successful or keeping them from achieving their potential?