Effective salespeople are driven, results-oriented and creative. Although those traits make them natural leaders, it can make them a challenge to manage and train.
Senior salespeople, in particular, aren’t going to sit through mindless e-learning sessions. If they see a certain process as inefficient, don’t be surprised if they ignore it entirely.
Even experts need continuing education, though. To make the training process more engaging:
1. Bring in a motivational speaker
One of the best ways to motivate and provide your salespeople with a new perspective is to bring in a professional speaker. Guest speakers in sales can cover topics ranging from account-based marketing to leadership to culture to client relationships. Encourage team members to tell you which areas they need help with before selecting a speaker. Good motivational speakers can boost the morale of your team, providing long-term benefits. They can also introduce new perspectives and a fresh outside look, something every organization can benefit from time to time. Of course, it all hinges on selecting an adequate speaker. Look for people who are able to deliver your company’s message with pinpoint accuracy within their presentation, but do it in a way your team members haven’t heard it a hundred times before. The passion is an essential part of any motivational speaker’s presentation. The passion will provide that extra oomph that will energize your time and motivate them to take action as soon as the meeting is over. That is why it is important to preview speakers before inviting them.
2. Use role-playing
Empathy is essential for salespeople. Role-playing builds empathy because it requires the participants to think like the person who’s typically on the other side of the table.
In both the B2B and B2C spaces, salespeople need to be able to connect with others on a human level. Experienced reps can play the customer, while newer team members do the work of convincing those reps to buy. Cold calls, negotiations, and elevator pitches are all great sales situations to role-play.
Keep in mind that for new people on the team, role play is the only way of simulating experience. It is the next best thing to actually going out in the field and try to sell something. Of course, a sales rep who had a chance to try several techniques during a role-play in training will do vastly better compared to the one who was just kicked out on the street with a printed sales pitch. Yes, there is no substitution for experience, but a well-designed role play is the next best thing and you should organize it every chance you have, with more experienced team members coaching the newcomers.
3. Set up a peer mentorship program
Peer mentorship is a low-stakes way to help junior salespeople learn from senior ones on the team. Experienced team members benefit, too: While teaching new hires the ropes, they learn about how sales works at other organizations or how it’s being taught in the classroom.
Still, getting a mentoring program started can be tough. Set up the structure while giving new salespeople ownership by letting them pick their mentors. Ideally, pairs should include two people who do not normally work together. This is also called the buddy system and it is highly effective. CEO of GoTranscript, Peter Trebek, has nothing but praises for it: “Pairing a newbie with a more experienced worker is a great way help your staff learn from each other and identify good or bad habits early on. Chances are, the veteran has already asked the same questions that the new employee has and can answer them quickly with real-life experience.”
4. Give new hires easy wins to build confidence
Managers cannot afford to spend months finding and training new talent only to watch it leave in short order. But the first few weeks in a new sales job can be enormously stressful: Handing the low-hanging fruit to new reps builds confidence and allows them to make small mistakes in a relatively safe way. It also helps senior salespeople grow by challenging them with trickier targets.
5. Focus on mindset, attitude, and goals
In sales, attitude is everything. Explain the difference between fixed and growth mindsets. Salespeople who believe they can improve typically do. Through advice and role-playing, encourage them to maintain a positive outlook when the going gets tough. You can use a calendar to track your time analytics on how salespeople spend their time or us a CRM like Salesforce to track overall sales goals.
One key tactic is teaching salespeople to break down their goals. Smaller objectives are less stressful, easier to achieve and provide clearer markers of progress.
6. Give feedback quickly and frequently.
Sales are hard, fast-paced work. Reps need to be constantly improving, but they can’t afford to sit in meetings all day. These people have much better things to do with their time than waste it in a conference room, like making money for themselves and you. Before scheduling a meeting, always ask yourself can the same purpose be achieved with a well-thought-out email. In a vast majority of cases, the answer is yes. Don’t be one of those people who call meetings just to hear themselves speak. Nothing kills motivation in a sales team like one useless meeting about a meeting after another. Keep in mind that while you are holding meetings, the competition is out there closing the deals. There is no amount of training that can make up for that.
Set up processes that let you provide bite-sized feedback. Friday debriefing meetings offer a chance to discuss what went right and wrong in the past week. Motivational Monday meetings are a great opportunity to think about how to apply those lessons moving forward.
Getting salespeople to sit through training and meetings can be tough, so make them as engaging as possible. Help them forge friendships, stay positive and learn something new every day, and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger sales team.