We’re getting business in, but I wonder how much more are we leaving on the table. We could be out in the field more to drive training with sales reps and managers. We’re struggling to put together sales rep training manual into a form that we can actually use to train people with. Once that’s built then I have to figure out who should be doing the training, and how to get it done efficiently and cost effectively. I’m not sure what the best way is to increase sales efforts by our sales team, and training for our sales people.

Thoughts of the Day: Training sales people to maximize their results is a smart place to start when looking at how to maximize your sales team. Creating a set of sales materials to conduct and reinforce training will help you be consistent when you’re training existing and new sales reps. A good place to start would be assess the needs of various people in the field, as they’re probably not all at the same stage of development. Work smarter, not harder – look for tools that already exist on the market and build on them. Be sure to measure before and after results to see what produces the best results.

If you can help your sales people deliver even better results, everybody wins. And good sales people like to win.

Keep in mind that most sales people can be impatient, and they want to be engaged with customers, out in the field, making connections, closing deals, etc. Good sales people may find that spending time in the classroom training skills a distraction from their mission of getting more business signed up. Keep training to short bursts, and come in prepared – try not to waste any time, get straight to work. Consider supplementing the sales team’s knowledge. Ask product experts from around the company to put together presentations on what makes the products or services great. Create a competitive profile to hand out, showing how your company’s offers compare to other organizations. Turn to outside sales training experts to help you build and implement your sales training tools.

Get to know your sales force.

Break them into groups – entry level, average, expert – in both product knowledge and sales skills. To help you with the sorting process, look at results that your individual sales people already produce. Find out what your experts know how to do that everyone else hasn’t yet figured out.

For your beginners, start with sales basics:
  • Think about both skills and process.
  • What constitutes a good sales call?
  • How does the sales process unfold? What information needs to be gathered and conveyed at each stage of the sales process, and in which order to be achieve top sales outcomes.

Ask you top performers to help you map out the topics to cover.

For people in the middle, producing average results:
  • it’s probably more about sales process than technical knowledge about the company and its products.
  • Either they know what to do and they’re skipping crucial steps, or they’re missing valuable insights on what to do in which order.
  • Focus on practicing every step in the sales process, asking for commitments at each stage.
  • Create a standard approach to conducting intro calls, gathering information, qualifying prospects, confirming needs, creating and delivering proposals and asking for the business.
  • Once people practice in the classroom, head out into the field for some one-on-one time.

Enlist your top sales producers as mentors to help guide and coach people on what they need to do to boost results.

If you have someone in the field who does an excellent job of tracking of prospects or documenting prospect needs ask them to show you what format they use to do that. Same for proposals and every other part of the selling process. Use their tools to build standard forms everyone in sales can use. In other words, adopt and adapt tools that successful people already use.

Keep track of results as you implement training. Look for increases in numbers of prospects identified, amount of initial information gathering meetings, quantity of proposals presented, number of closes, size and quality of sales completed. Focus on the most profitable sales and the best quality customers, and how to get more of those.

Looking for a good book?

Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives, by Keith Rosen