What you need to know about a prospect before a sales call — and where to find it
Learn the following 5 things about your prospect to make sure you’re prepared for your call.
Your sales reps may have a knack for prospecting or closing deals, but without effective training, they’re all sizzle and no steak. Empowering them with product knowledge, sales coaching, and the right sales training topics enhances the skills and performance of any sales team.
But as you know, training takes time. Thankfully, the investment pays off and often leads to improved customer satisfaction and better sales. It also plays a vital role in motivating reps, fostering a positive work environment, and improving employee retention.
A recent study by Spekit revealed that reps spend three to eleven hours per week just looking for training information. The study also found that many reps are keen on learning about the product, their industry, and the company's sales process, but don’t have the resources to do so.
In this article, we'll cover sales training ideas you can use to meet your sales reps right where they're at and boost performance.
<a href="#review-live-selling" class="anchor-link">Review live selling experiences</a>
<a href="#look-at-the-game-tape" class="anchor-link">Look at the game tape</a>
<a href="#practice-active-listening" class="anchor-link">Practice active listening</a>
<a href="#play-an-objection-mystery-game" class="anchor-link">Play an objection mystery game</a>
<a href="#review-inputs-and-outputs" class="anchor-link">Review inputs and outputs</a>
<a href="#role-play-objections" class="anchor-link">Role-play objections</a>
<a href="#roll-out-software-based-training" class="anchor-link">Roll out software-based training</a>
<a href="#invest-time-in-product-training" class="anchor-link">Invest time in product training</a>
<a href="#rehearse-common-scripts" class="anchor-link">Rehearse common scripts</a>
<a href="#focus-on-sales-prospecting" class="anchor-link">Focus on sales prospecting</a>
<a href="#tips-for-effective-sales-training-sessions" class="anchor-link">Tips for effective sales training sessions</a>
Let's take a look at 10 of the best sales training ideas you can use to encourage the team and build their skills.
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You can talk to your sales reps about techniques all day long, but it's important to spend time actively showing your team how you make sales in the real world. New reps can learn a whole lot by listening to recordings of a seasoned sales manager making calls or even attending sales calls with them live.
Another idea: Host weekly, monthly, or quarterly days where reps team up and shadow one another. Then, when you have your next training meeting, your reps can share what they learned and how different prospect issues came up and were (or weren’t) resolved.
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Like live selling, reviewing game tape provides perspective that manuals and scripts can't cover entirely. Reviewing game tape means setting aside regular time to go over not just call recordings, but email threads and messages exchanged in a group setting. Sales team members should be comfortable sharing pitches they're proud of and ones that could have gone better.
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Your team members are probably mentally scattered and thinking about other things at the start of a sales coaching session. A good way to open it up is with an active listening exercise.
As a sales coach, give this a go: Write a few details down as if you're a fictional prospect, then weave those details into a story you tell the rep or group of reps you’re working with. Their job is to keep track of the details and share how many they caught.
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Pick one sales rep to think of a tough objection to your product that is unique — not one your team has dealt with before. The rest of your team has the job of asking the rep questions to find out exactly what the issue is. Though this may feel silly in the moment, the objecting team member is representing a prospect who won't budge until they are listened to closely and asked the right questions. This kind of exercise makes real-life tough objections feel less like conversation enders.
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It's important to teach your team to strive for high sales performance by having a running list of top performers in both inputs and outputs. A rep's inputs could be:
And their outputs might be:
The team needs to know how their own inputs and outputs stack up to benchmarks and who's leading the pack. Keep the atmosphere positive by providing some sort of SPIFF or incentive to the people at the top of the leaderboard.
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Skillfully responding to objections separates the best sales teams from the rest. Role playing can help reps hone their sales skills in real time as they need to think on their feet. Their partner should also critique their technique for how well they listen, show empathy, and address the concern.
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Software is the support system that empowers people, but salespeople especially, to achieve their sales goals and hit quota. They should know how to use your sales stack like the back of their hand. Unfortunately, many salespeople don't fully utilize all of the tools they have available, sometimes because the tech feels redundant and sometimes due to a lack of training and adoption. This holds your team back from potential revenue, especially if reps would save time by automating some tasks with tech.
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Take time to really dive into the nuances of your product in your sales training program. When reps know their products inside and out, they can better explain the features and benefits that would matter to a particular prospect. They'll spend less time in their heads thinking about what the product does and more time listening to their prospect.
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Knowing sales scripts inside and out is essential for sales success. Scripts are a roadmap for successful sales conversations. They help reps know what to say, when to say it, and how to respond to potential objections. Plus, they save reps from reinventing the wheel when explaining a product's value proposition. With a solid script, great sellers will mold it into something that feels like their own, and that’s when sales magic happens. One final note here: New sales reps will definitely need extra training in this area.
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Whether you're selling cars or B2B SaaS, you can't hit sales targets without a steady stream of prospects. For sales teams to excel, they need to understand how to effectively search for potential customers. Training your team to find and engage with potential customers is crucial for long-term revenue growth. Without proper training, sales teams may struggle to bring fresh leads in the door.
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Many companies do similar types of sales training, but not all of them are performing at the top of their game. How you implement the 10 sales training topic ideas above has just as big of an impact as the topics themselves. Here’s some advice to make sales training implementation go a little smoother.
Sales reps need access to training materials through handbooks or a virtual training help center to track their progress in different areas. We don’t recommend just presenting random topics at every-so-often sales meetings, as it's hard for reps to retain new skills and remember ad-hoc presentations. Instead, house it all in one place in either a content management system or sales enablement software.
In the real world, sales professionals don't have time to carefully craft the perfect answer to every objection. To keep the pressure on in a mock sales meeting, try the hot potato technique so reps don't know who will answer an objection next. You can also have your reps stand on one foot while replying to objections or delivering a sales pitch. It sounds strange, but the training exercise can help reps work on focusing under pressure.
Employee training should extend beyond real-time meetings or annual SKOs (sales kickoffs). Sales staff can sharpen one another's skills by posing objections or product questions to each other throughout the day. Enter Streak.
Streak is a simple CRM for Gmail that's intuitive to anyone with Google Sheets experience. With customer information and conversations saved right in Gmail, it's easy to look at your team’s game tape to identify issues or plan your next move. Plus, it’s actually possible to manage your entire pipeline in Streak from Gmail and see how each team member's inputs and outputs are impacting close rates, deal length, and revenue.
In the spirit of training, we’ve got bite-sized training modules online to show you how to use Streak. Head to Streak University to see how you can incorporate Streak into your sales training strategy.