To achieve sales success, you already know you must constantly revisit your sales goals, marketing messaging, and target markets. But have you examined your sales training and coaching systems lately?
Go-to-market strategies need to adapt to changing laws, tariffs, regulations, and economic factors. Even a coaching and training system you implemented successfully, say, three years ago could be failing to help your teams pivot and perform to the best of their ability.
Class is in session: 5 Lessons to achieve sales success
Given that sales markets will always be moving targets to some degree, how can sales operations managers train their teams to achieve, adapt, and hit their marks?
Here are some tips for teaching and coaching sales teams to be as effective as possible:
1.) Create and implement ongoing training to reinforce best practices.
According to research by Xerox and ASTD, 87 percent of new skills are completely lost within a month of training – and 80 percent can be lost within a week if the skills aren’t used immediately.
Pretty sobering, right? So how can your organization train employees with tools they will actually use and retain?
It’s critical to reinforce the skills learned in training straightaway. During the training session, calling out specific steps the employee will use within the first week or two of the job can be helpful – the employee will then understand how the first steps taken will lead to sales success.
Creating a simple metric scorecard for both managers and salespersons is also beneficial. Not everything in building a sales relationship can be quantified, of course, but if your training lays out steps, benchmarks, and goalposts for the team – which it should – then you can create a metric scorecard that salespeople can measure their performance against.
2.) Assign a mentor or buddy.
Mentoring is rarely done in traditional sales because individual salespeople are often in competition – be it direct or implied – with each other. But as Generation Z and millennials enter the workforce, human-resource experts are finding that they respond well to shadowing a more experienced team member who can show them how the process works, instead of merely telling them about it.
This relationship will be a temporary one, but if new salespeople can shadow a senior team member for 30 or 45 days, they will see your company’s process and goals in action, and where they fit into your organization. They’ll also recognize that the company values them enough to share this important resource.
3.) Build a clear roadmap for your company, department, and employees.
Make sure this is shared early and often in your training. All the principles, processes, sales goals, and tools you share during training should map to business-critical components of this roadmap.
New employees must be able to access this roadmap, and all training materials, on your intranet, or on a preloaded USB stick with simple navigation. All employees should have a clear—and inspired—picture of where the company is going, and how they can help the company there. With knowledge comes empowerment, and with empowerment comes investment.
Have your sales teams make friends with marketing.
More and more companies are seeing sales growth simply by better integrating these formerly siloed groups. If your marketing department is creating high-value videos, case studies, and white papers, make sure your sales teams know about this valuable collateral and use it.
Part of any successful training should include a chapter or two on your marketing group, as well as an overview of the content it’s produced, where the content lives, and how it can and should be used.
4.) Consider incorporating gamification in your training.
A training app with leaderboards and achievement badges can get buy-in to your training concepts on a deeper level.
First, salespeople are competitive, so this will tap into that urge and drive home training concepts in a fun, rewarding way. Second, learning will continue outside the training conference room, underscoring the principles of your coaching.
5.) Continue coaching your coaches.
Sales is always evolving — so should your training, and the ways your trainers and coaches teach. Sales coaches should visit departments like customer service, fulfillment, and project management to make sure the whole company is on board, and more importantly, to see what other employees are learning on the ground.
These important teams are learning about the sales landscape, opportunities, challenges, and areas for growth, so make sure your coaches are closely tied to the front lines. Keep the training as fresh, relevant, and current as possible.
The good news is that effective sales coaching is achievable. Following these tips can help empower your employees to turn training into actionable, profitable results.