A lot can happen between the time members of a sales team are initially trained and the end of their first year, or even their first quarter. Deals will be won and lost, experience gained and, perhaps most significantly, work habits formed.
Some of those habits might be great — like inputting data into the CRM immediately following each customer encounter — but some habits might not. This is when a sales refresher might be in order, though that’s not the only reason.
In fact, it’s important that reps don’t immediately think of training refreshers as some sort of remedial education — a punishment for things they haven’t learned very well. Done properly, sales training refreshers are simply a way of reinforcing what’s important about the way a given company approaches customers and prospects. These four tactics could make it a lot more fun and useful.
There’s no better way to help reps understand the kind of scenarios they’ll face in the field than offering real-life examples from your installed base of customers. In some instances, these stories may have provided the foundation for formalized case studies that are used as part of the inbound marketing strategy.
As you conduct sales training refresher sessions, remind them of the biggest selling takeaways from those case studies, but don’t stop there. Use them as the jumping-off point for a discussion that could touch on the following:
How the customer was supported post-sale and lessons learned that could be applied to other customers and overcome possible objections
How share of wallet within that customer was (or wasn’t) grown, exploring cross-sell or upsell opportunities that need to be conducted more often
The nuances of selling to a particular vertical market, within a geographic region or by a certain size of organization.
The training refresher should make the team better at closing these kinds of deals — and ideally, they’ll offer some fresh examples that prove how far they’ve come since the initial training.
A big part of training (and even coaching) for sales may involve acting out situations between the company and its prospects to show the right way to get to a deal and where things could go wildly wrong. In many sales training sessions, the trainee is put in the role of “seller,” and the leader and other trainees may be invited to comment on their performance.
When you’re doing a refresher, you could try the same thing, or you could make things a lot more interesting by turning the tables. This time let the training leader be the seller and the trainee — now more experienced than last time, as the buyer. Have the group keep their eyes out for these details:
What’s consistent between how this situation was role-played in the original training session, and what might have been left out or not considered? Have reps share things they’ve discovered on their own that could improve the training approach.
How did the trainee’s role as the “customer” seem different than the way the training leader handled the role the first time around? Which seemed truer to life — and what behaviours should that remind the group to apply more rigorously?
Record each session and replay the scene to the trainee who acted as the customer. What are his or her takeaways? Their self-assessment may be much different when they can see it in front of their own eyes, and a selection of these recordings could make great sales enablement material.
A lot of sales training focuses on that challenging but sought-after moment when you’re finally having an in-person meeting with a prospect. Some might walk through common cold calling techniques, and what reps should say when they get an actual person on the other end of the line.
A good refresher can run through all these things again, but think about adding some creative constraints by having the group tackle the same challenges using a different channel. For instance:
Create a scenario where an in-person meeting has been cancelled at the last minute and the rep has to make the same pitch using video instead. How should their approach change?
Have the group imagine a lead on the phone who tells the rep they prefer to deal primarily by email. If you talked about “cold” emails but never got around to “warm” emails, now is your opportunity to build on their knowledge.
Have a volunteer run through the same training exercise for a cold calling or introductory meeting with a prospect, but this time confine their activity to interactions via a social media service like Twitter or LinkedIn. How do they get closer to a deal quickly?
Chances are, a lot of early sales training was done at a time when people were primarily working at their desks. Do a free-form brainstorming session to see how they could freshen their approach to selling using everything mobile computing has to offer:
How can a smartphone app be used to reduce the purchase cycle or more quickly get information to members of an account buying team?
Who has an example of where analytics could be accessed on the go to make the selling process more predictive?
Based on what was learned in the initial session, where could mobility make customer service more streamlined and efficient without taking too much time away from managing the sales pipeline?
Far from feeling like a waste of time, a great sales training refresher session will take the team one step forward from where they were before — and reduce the danger of slipping back into any bad habits.
Learn more ways to help your sales team succeed with our ebook, “4 Steps to Transforming Your Sales Process.”