At Sales Progress, we create training for sellers to bring our clients income. We’re not looking to just motivate participants for a day but rather to achieve real, measurable results.
We realized that modern sales training can be more effective and bring better results than more traditional training activities. To do this, we needed to identify and fix some of the common problems that occur in outdated sales training activities. If we can solve the problem of transitioning theoretical knowledge into real techniques and sales skills, we will be able to improve sales training and give our customers access to new levels of profit.
What is the difference between theory and practice? For several years we have been trying to find a solution to this challenge. Here are some of our conclusions and solutions based on our research and client experience.
Sales training will be more effective if:
1. The content of the course corresponds to the type of sales the company practices.
Each type of sales requires its own sales technique. For example, the process of selling by a real estate agent and a mobile crane manufacturer is completely different and requires different content even at a basic level. Hence the conclusion: The content of the training, created by one specialist, albeit very strong, cannot provide full coverage of the interests of participants from different areas of commercial activity. The project approach, with the involvement of specialists from different fields, in the preparation of highly specialized trainings, will provide the highest results.
2. Sellers are taught to put the theory of sales techniques into practice.
Sellers have difficulties if they need to independently combine knowledge about the product, company, and service with the techniques received at the training in communications with the client. The way to utilize this abstract knowledge often is not provided either in internal training (product trainings) nor in external or internal sales trainings. We need to integrate this into a single set of skills, used in daily work. We need tools to help translate knowledge about the company, product, market, customer, and skills into daily interactions with the customer.
3. Enough sessions are held to support the emotional state of the sellers.
Sellers do not feel that sales managers and coaches understand their emotions; hence the psychological barrier that prevents successful learning. For example, the seller often is unable to realize his or her role in sales. This leads to confusion and then to constant complaints about management and sellers’ “adverse circumstances.” Helping to fight this emotional discomfort can be crucial in achieving results.
4. Listeners are taught how to remember training content and put it into practice.
Participants don’t use the knowledge they were taught in practice simply because they don’t remember much! To solve this problem, our team has studied several important facts about the characteristics of memory. We have concluded that the creators of training programs should consider the features of the human brain when designing a system for memorizing certain content. Similarly, trainers should provide the customer and participants with a ready-made solution for the use and application of the studied content.
5. Participants are supported in their desire to change their work habits and use their new knowledge in practice.
This support becomes a motivation to memorize and apply course material in the daily work of the seller. Sales training will be more effective if we apply methodology for supporting the mature desire to apply new knowledge in the following weeks, months, and years.
6. Participants of the course have obligations to the employer (the person booking the course) in the application of knowledge and sales growth.
Course participants often do not feel responsible to the company for the investments made in their development, and management does not have the opportunity to regulate the use of new practices learned by employees. Implementations of methods that can link the responsibility of sellers to the introduction of new knowledge into day-to-day work and the responsibility of managers to oversee the process is essential.
7. Participants make a personal decision to gain additional knowledge and change their professional activities.
Corporate training sometimes can be perceived as additional pressure from management to boost sales growth processes. Any pressure is always perceived negatively by sellers. The use of training methods involving sellers in the process of using the knowledge and the introduction of their own experience will help to remove participants’ initial, sometimes unconscious, negative attitude toward the trainings.
8. Learning is perceived as part of the workflow, not as an opportunity to have a break during working hours.
Lacking the right psychological mood for the training interferes with intensive cognitive and memory work during the training program. Participants prepare for the course by providing interim sales results, which can be used to quantify their improvement before and after the training. Sellers understand before the training that they need to change something in their work, and they commit to do that.
By using an integrated approach to sales training and applying all eight key points, we will see measurable improvements and exponential return on investment. There is so much untapped potential in this sector and a real need for sales training techniques to be updated. This need is what drove us to bring together the latest research in the science and psychology of sales and revive this essential practice.
Natalia Kutkovich, BSc, MBA has more than 20 years’ experience in sales and marketing. She has been instrumental in achieving multimillion euro sales increases over her career. In 2014, Kutkovich became a certified Sales Trainer and she now works as Training director at Sales Progress (Barcelona, Spain), where she designs, implements, and manages innovative sales training techniques for businesses across Europe.