Sales Training Methods

7 Most Effective Methods of Sales Training [+Pros/Cons]

Methods of Sales Training

Sales training methods are a very effective way to enhance positively the performance of salespeople and achieve increased sales profits.

These methods greatly work for whether the sales personnel are old i.e. current employees or the newly appointed sales personnel. It is an essential duty of the sales manager/sales organization to keep its salespeople updated, trained and motivated to achieve more.

For this, the sales manager can go for many sales training methods and techniques as there are many available but the most common methods are on-the-job and off-the-job methods.

Here we will discuss the on-the-job methods and off-the-job methods for sales personnel training along with their advantages and disadvantages.

Off-The-Job Training Method

By definition, the off-the-job training method means teaching new skills to the salespeople, especially outside the organization, or that may be after office time.

The most commonly used off-the-job sales training methods are discussed below along with their pros and cons.

Lecture

This is a teaching style that is often utilized in sales training. The trainer delivers the necessary knowledge to the trainees/participants via lectures in this technique. It is, in fact, a one-way communication system.

Trainees primarily observe and listen. This isn’t to say that the participants/trainees aren’t allowed to raise questions. They may inquire if the trainer’s presentation confuses them.

Although this appears to trainees to be traditional and passive, trainers have begun to use various training aids such as conversation, demonstration, films, video, recordings, cases, and power presentations to make it more effective and motivating.

Pros/Positive Aspects:

  • It’s best for introduction and orientation sessions, as well as summaries of significant themes, taught through conversations, role-playing, and other methods.
  • It can be used to provide new information about the company, its policies, goods, markets, and sales initiatives.
  • In terms of the amount of time required to cover a topic, this strategy is cost-effective.
  • When training groups are too large to allow constructive audience participation, this strategy is the only realistic way to manage instruction.
  • Participants/trainees benefit from the usage of current training aids such as multimedia.
  • Projecting images, charts, and graphs boost participants’ attention comprehension and retention.

Cons/Negative Aspects:

  • Lectures delivered without the use of current training tools cause students to become passive in their listening and participation during the training cycle.
  • Teaching takes precedence over learning in this manner.
  • Even skilled sales trainers agree that the average learner can only remember about 10% of what they hear right away.
  • Because trainees do not provide immediate feedback, the effectiveness of training programs is determined by a personal assessment of their reception.

Demonstration

The demonstration is an extremely effective training method. Information on new items and selling techniques is communicated to the participating salespeople using this way. The trainer demonstrates how a new product works and when to close a sale throughout the demonstration process.

Companies have realized that showing rather than lecturing is more successful. Furthermore, demonstrating to the trainer involves the participating salespeople in the demonstration process. Many participants have discovered that they have forgotten what the trainer says, recall what he or she sees, but understood when they got involved.

Demonstration alone, however, may not be sufficient. It is preferable to combine the process with other techniques, such as conferences and case studies.

Advantages/Positive Aspects:

  • Demonstrations are a useful adjunct in the selling process and provide realism to the sales routine, which participants can know/understand.
  • When the training session is finished and salespeople return to their regular routines, they might invite potential buyers to participate in the demonstration. It will be easier for the salesperson to ask questions at this time in order to determine the buyer’s buying habits.
  • Demonstrations allow the salesman to maximize the advantages to potential buyers.
  • Salespersons can easily overcome customers’ objections since they make them involved in the demonstration process.
  • Because trained salespersons allow customers sufficient opportunity to get their queries (if any) satisfied, customers can feel at ease to ascertain the product utility more clearly and quickly. This helps to overcome purchasing inhibitions more quickly.

Disadvantages/Negative Aspects:

  • Demonstrations alone are not so effective till they are combined with other sales presentation tools.
  • It is time-consuming for a single sale because salespersons do not break the demonstration process till purchasers are completely satisfied.

Role-Playing

In this method of sales training, salespeople are required to act out their allocated roles in fictitious crisis scenarios. Trainers serve as guides, controllers, and drivers for trainees as they progress through their responsibilities.

Pros/Advantages:

  • It provides realistic practices and enhances the participants’ experience in a real like situation.
  • This method is flexible and the role player can diversify himself/herself in role-playing situations.
  • It is appropriate for training new sales personnel, experienced salespeople, and even mixed groups.
  • Trainees learn to accept criticism and develop themselves with the trainer’s suggestions.
  • Since videotaping is used during the training program, each participant gets an opportunity to have self-evaluation and improvement.
  • Since the trainee uses the free, wheeling nature of role-playing, the training proves conducive to generating new ideas and approaches.
  • In role-playing sessions for mixed groups, juniors get a chance to valuable sales tricks. Even experienced personnel keep alert on it.

Cons/Disadvantages:

  • A role player sometimes may lose his/her emotion and may forget actually what role he/she is playing.
  • During role-playing, many criticisms may appear from the audience whether they are other participants or non-participants. This may distract the role player.
  • The role player may come in fixed when reactions appear in terms of audience laughter. It becomes very much difficult to hold himself/herself in such a situation.

Buzz Session

This method is also known as impromptu discussion. In fact, it is a brief oral presentation on an everyday sales problem. The discussion goes on give-and-talk issues. It is a kind of seminar.

Pros/Positive Aspects:

  • Because diverse presentations are provided, group members learn about a variety of issues during discussion.
  • Because the talk covers various complexities and consequences that may go undiscovered by individuals, trainees learn that understanding and addressing situations is more important than fixed selling rules and principles. This suggests that the salespeople’s capacity to deal with challenges improves as a result of the buzz session.
  • Trainees are free of the trainer’s dominance and participate actively in the presentation and debate. They learn better in a casual, informal setting.

Cons/Negative Aspects:

  • Only if both the trainer and the trainees are experienced in this form of sales training is¬†appropriate and effective. For new salespeople, such a program is not practical to set up.
  • Because the participants are not compelled to share their experiences in the conversation, they may stray from the program’s intended path or take needlessly long breaks.
  • During the debate, trainees may appear to have more experience than the trainer. This could lead to a conflict between the two groups.
  • The scheduling of a buzz session takes a long time.

On-The-Job Training Method

By definition, the on-the-job training method means giving the training to the current salespeople of the sales organization to further improve their knowledge and performance in achieving sales objectives within the organization.

The most common on-the-job methods of sales training are mentioned below with their advantages and disadvantages.

Coaching

This method is also called the coach-and-pupil method. Here, an experienced salesperson or the trainee is taken as an immediate supervisor for trainees. This method is suitable for new salespersons.

Pros/Positive Aspects:

  • Although sales operations move slowly, they are not totally interrupted/broken during the training period. In other words, training and selling activities go together during the fixed period of training time.
  • During the coaching period, the trainees feel that the trainers are very friendly and courteous to them than their supervisor. This feeling ultimately wakes up the trainees bold and confident to solve any sales-related problems such as sales presentation, dealing with customer objections, and closing sales.
  • This method of training salespeople also proves to be cost-effective because the organization does need not any place to hire and does not create an artificial sales environment as it is needed in the case of off-the-job sales training methods, especially, vocational and appreciative types.

Cons/Negative Aspects:

  • Total sales volume naturally declines because of the slow move during the training period. This ultimately makes effect the total profit of the sales organization, but for a specific period of time.
  • The effectiveness of this program mainly depends upon the coacher/trainer’s qualification. If the coaches ships in positive character, the trainees learn the bad habits and behavior of the coach. This will ultimately inject bad skills.

Job Rotation

This sales method of on-the-job training is more suitable for sales managers than salespersons. In this training program, there is no provision for separate trainers to train them. In fact, sales managers are moved from one job to the next job at the planned interval.

Pros/Positive Aspects:

  • Sales managers develop their sales knowledge, experience, and skills in new sales territorial environment.
  • The sales organization, later on, can make proper use of these managerial assets wherever they are demanded in different sales situations.
  • As there needs no extra cost to bear for job rotation, this method proves cost-effective for the organization.
  • When sales managers develop themselves through job rotation, they get ample opportunity to enjoy career upliftment and different incentives.

Cons/Negative Aspects:

  • It does not prove effective for experienced lower-level sales managers. It will only be beneficial to inexperienced sales managers.
  • Some sales managers do not want to participate in the job-rotation program they do not want to leave their convenient sales territories nearby their homes.
  • Some participating managers feel they have only to learn by doing and no one immediate guide if any problem arises.
  • Some others also express that they do not get new experience in new territories in the planned duration of the training, since they already possess more than they learn in the new place.

Special Assignments

This type of on-the-job training is given to lower-level sales executives. In this program, no job rotation is done. The senior sales executive trains the lower-level sales executives on the same sales job that they are engaged in by giving special as well as challenging assignments.

Pros/Positive Aspects:

  • It improves the managerial skills of lower-level executives participating in the special assignments program.
  • The participated executives feel a friendly relationship with the boss/ trainer that increases cooperativeness among them.
  • This program also enhances the trainees’ analytical skills and decision-making capacity related to sales management.
  • Since no extra setup for the training is required, the firm enjoys cost-effectiveness.
  • The trainer receives extra allowances for the period after training.
  • After training, the trained lower-level executives may get opportunities for career development like promotion.

Cons/Negative Aspects:

  • Basically, newly recruited lower-level executives get the opportunity to participate in this type of training. Therefore, those old lower-level executives working for so many years lose their career opportunities.
  • In case additional allowances are not provided to the participating lower-level sales executives, their effectiveness is quite adversely affected even if they took participation in the training program.

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