Many sales training programs fail. Some fail right away if participants are not engaged in the learning or the content is not relevant to them. Others fail months later when sellers forget what they learned, o don’t internalize that they were supposed to do things differently. What happens? No changes in sales behavior, and no improvement in results.
Sales training failure doesn’t have to be inevitable, though. With the right planning, tailoring, and execution, you can make your training a smashing success. Here are five strategies to help make your sales training a success.
#1: Talk to Participants Before You Build and Deliver the Program
Connect with at least a few participants prior to training to get a sense of their challenges and what they’re hoping to get out of the program. Often, what sales leaders or program sponsors think participants need and want and what participants actually need and want differ greatly. The more involved participants are in training development, the more likely they are to commit to the training—rather than just comply with attendance. In other words, they want training to be for them, not done to them.
This gives you the opportunity to collaborate with participants and make training relevant. Take what you hear in your conversations and weave examples throughout. This will validate the discussion in a live training session, build your credibility, and win over the participants.
#2: Start Live Training With Immediate Interaction
The first 10 minutes of a training session are crucial. During this time you can either capture participants’ interest for the day or lose them completely. You don’t want to be stuck climbing an uphill battle the rest of the session.
Getting participants involved right away can be as simple as saying, “I know you’ve seen the agenda, but this isn’t my time, it’s your time. I want to make sure the next two days are as relevant as possible. At the end of these two days, if you left and said, ‘This training was really worthwhile,’ what will we have covered and done to make you say this?” Then, stand up and write their ideas on a flip chart or white board. During the remainder of the program, make sure you cover and emphasize the areas participants note, or have individual conversations during lunch and breaks to make sure everyone feels like the session was, indeed, for them.
Plus, when participants talk first instead of you, you start off with excellent engagement. It’s much more difficult to engage when the participants have been silent for too long.
#3: Customize All Exercises and Examples
All exercises and examples should be tailored to the situations that sellers will actually face. This includes tailoring for products and services, markets, typical sales dynamics they deal with, and so forth. The more real and relevant you can make it, the more engagement you’ll have and the more likely it is that learning will stick. Furthermore, with anything you’re going to cover, you need to know how to connect it to their success—whether it’s achieving more success for themselves, or achieving more success for buyers.
#4: Push People Outside of Their Comfort Zone
Real learning and growth happen when you push people to their “a-ha” moments. Consider a role play exercise. If a seller is focusing on generic benefits for buyers such as faster throughput time, better operational costs, and so forth, push them to think deeper. Have them get specific. Sellers must take risks to drive success forward, and you must take risks to push sellers out of their comfort zones and drive real learning.
#5: Make Training an Initiative, Not an Event
The previous points have all focused around live training and the kind of things you can do regardless of the content to make the program exceptionally strong. With today’s technology, there’s much greater capability for you to engage participants before and after a live training program. With online lessons, webinars, and push technologies like apps and email, you can accomplish much of the knowledge transfer and method set-up before the program begins. This allows you to spend more time during the training itself interacting, practicing, and pushing. These technologies also can help you reinforce training content over time so that learning sticks and skills transfer on the job.