What is Sales Training?
Sales training is the organized program to enhance the skills, abilities, attitudes, and performance of salesforce/sales personnel to achieve the sales objectives with best practices. It is organized to support sales personnel’s sales performance to make them strategically adapt to changing selling practices to support the profit of the firm also.
It is a process developed with the help of sales-related personnel to bridge the gap that exists between what salespeople have and what the sales job requires in order to achieve the desired sales results in the selling environment.
This gap may be narrowed since sales training allows salespeople to learn job-related concepts and develop abilities and attitudes that will undoubtedly increase their performance. In fact, it helps salespeople adapt their behavior in order to win the sales race in the face of new challenges.
With the changing practices, selling practices, selling environment the salespeople need to be trained in the emerging selling techniques to best meet the customer’s expectations. Sales training is the most effective way to bring a real change in the behavior of salespeople which needs to be learned and applied in the real job.
Purpose of Sales Training
Simply, saying the purpose of the sales training program is to improve sales performance and realize the best sales success. It helps a sales company/manager that seeks to improve its salesforce. Its main purposes can be listed below.
- Helping salespeople become better managers
- Orienting the new salesperson to the job
- Improving knowledge in areas such as product, company, competitors, selling skills, etc.
- Lowering absenteeism rate
- Positively influencing sales attitudes of sales personnel in job satisfaction areas
- Lowering selling cost
- Informing salespeople about changes in behavior
- Obtaining feedback from the salespeople, and
- Increasing sales in particular products or customer categories.
These are the most common purposes, however, they highly differ according to the types of skills salespeople lack, types of the training program, and the environment. In fact, these are the general purposes.
The specific purposes are defined when a specific training program is set for a specific group of sales personnel. This means general purposes are translated into specific purposes according to need. The specific purposes are defined with a review of general purposes and the means employed to attain them.
Steps in the Sales Training Process
Generally, a sales training program consists of four steps, the steps are given and explained below.
Training Needs Analysis
The training needs of new salespeople are identified by assessing the responsibilities that have been allocated to them. The analyst evaluates a person’s abilities, expertise, duties, responsibilities, and other attributes to the job description and specifications using this method.
Then he or she figures out where these salespeople’s gaps are. The analyst may conduct an interview with such salespeople as part of their work analysis.
However, salespeople who have been with the company for a long time have their performance requirements examined and supervisors’ assessment reports obtained, and the company then analyzes their gaps. The gaps indicate that salespeople whether required or not the sales training to improve their skills, knowledge, behavior, performance and so on.
Designing Training Programs
The required sales training program is established after the training needs are identified. Many concrete decisions are taken during the course. The decisions are about,
- Training objectives to set
- Actual contents of training to develop
- Training budget to fix
- Suitable training method to choose
- Appropriate trainer to hire
- Conducive training environment/place to choose or create
- Effective training aids to develop
- A number of participants at a time, to decide;
- Duration of training to fix, and
- Types of salesforce to train in a single program.
All of these decisions are important in this step to ensure that the training program is as effective as possible.
Implementing Sales Training Program
A sales training program is implemented based on the above-mentioned decisions. Implementing a sales training program entails putting the instruction into action. The trainer makes training methods easier to grasp and responsive in all respects, including to the trainer, participants, and the sales organization, while applying them.
Evaluation of Sales Training Program
This last step of the sales training process focuses on measuring program effectiveness. Basically, four different tools are used to judge the effectiveness of implemented training program. They are:
- Participants’ reactions to the training course
- Acquisition and retention of knowledge and attitude change
- Changes in participants’ work behavior
- Organizational outcomes after training.
Importance of Sales Training Program
This training program is assumed as it provides great importance, through it both the participants (salespeople) and sales organization are benefited. The importance/benefits of effective sales training programs to salespeople and sales firms are mentioned below:
Importance To SalesPeople/Participants
Enrichment of Knowledge and Skills: Participants’ knowledge is enriched because while providing training, the trainer delivers about the company, its products, and competitors’ products. The participants develop their skills because demonstration technique is used during the training period.
Job-Related Behavioral Change: The strengths and limitations of salespeople’s job performance are carefully evaluated while determining training needs. The areas that need to be improved are listed in the training materials.
The trainer also instructs the participants. Not only that, but during the training period, the trainer also demonstrated and allowed the trainees to exhibit. This is quite helpful in bringing about behavioral change.
Motivation and Learning Improvement: The trainer uses various training aids such as presentations, graphs, charts, movies, and other media to make the training program as successful as possible. This really stimulates the participants and helps them study more effectively.
Sales Confidence Improvement: Because they are required to demonstrate the assigned components in front of other participants, including salespeople and peers, as well as the trainer and evaluators, salespeople’s self-confidence grows. Two-way communication and interaction take place during this procedure. This boosts their self-esteem significantly.
Higher Job Satisfaction: When salespeople return to work after completing a scheduled training session, they begin implementing the new information, abilities, and behaviors in a real-world sales environment, where they are motivated and dedicated.
As a result, he does better than his peers (the untrained). As a result of his performance, he receives a higher salary, and he is really satisfied with his employment. He may be given the opportunity for advancement and promotion on occasion.
Importance To Organization
Cost Reduction: Training develops not just sales knowledge but also sales skills, as previously indicated. There will be fewer callbacks to close the deal if your talents are higher. Salespeople begin employing appropriate technology in sales operations after returning from the training session. This reduces sales costs.
Complaint Reduction: Because the trained salesforce persuades people to the level for which they were educated, effective training decreases customer complaints about products or services supplied. Furthermore, they provide an excellent display of items (particularly complex ones) as well as a clear understanding of how to utilize and maintain them.
They place a strong emphasis on product quality during their presentation. Customer complaints are reduced as a result of better addressing customer needs and greater service levels.
Lower Sales Staff Absenteeism and Turnover: Salespeople have the realization that the organization is willing to invest in them after participating in the sales training program. Salespeople’s morale and loyalty improve as a result of this realization. As a result, absenteeism and turnover among salespeople are reduced.
Reduced Management Assistance: Well-trained salespeople require less management help because they can manage their own operations by using what they learned during the training program.
Higher Sales and Profit Generation: Because of the all above benefits, the overall company’s sales are increased and the company benefits from the higher profits.
Methods of Sales Training
For a sales organization to train its salespersons, it is necessary to apply effective methods. For training the salespersons, the organization mainly goes for two methods – on-the-job and off-the-job.
On-The-Job (OJT) Method
The on-the-job training method is when the salespeople get trained to enhance their skills, knowledge, and performance to achieve the desired yet specific sales goals within the workplace.
The OJT works best when the salespeople are interested enough to get new training ideas and motivated to apply them to real work. This reduces the cost of the organization since it does not have to organize a different place to train the salespeople.
The following methods can be used for effective sales training under the on-the-job method.
- Job Rotation
- Special Assignments
The off-the-Job method is when salespeople are trained outside the organization they work in. It is just the opposite of the OJT method. Under this method, the sales organization organizes a specific place outside the working organization and makes involved the salespeople in such session.
It also reduces the work burden of salespeople during the period of the training program. Under this, the below methods can be used:
- Buzz Session
Summing Up… Sales training is a behavioral change program for salespeople to further accelerate their knowledge of how to better sell, how to better handle customers, how to better satisfy customers, and how to better adapt to emerging trends of selling practices that best help to achieve sales success. It is a great program for selling companies to organize and realize the increased performance of salesforce and profits.