The Best Sales Training Programs, IMHO

I have the pleasure of working with 20+ Lessonly customers, and many are executing various types of sales training programs. I’ve realized it’s not uncommon that teams find themselves developing and conducting sales training programs that feel like they aren’t making the impact intended. So, which companies have the best sales training programs? There’s no silver bullet, but there are some strategies that seem to be consistent throughout the enablement teams I work with, and those are high engagement, adoption and satisfaction rates. 

Sales training is weird because most sales people don’t want to do it (let’s be honest) or feel they don’t have the time for it, but they also seem to be consistently asking for enablement that helps them close deals; a sentiment that has seemed to become especially pervasive as we pivoted to a virtual sales training world. Before we talk about the solution, shall we define the problem? Why don’t they want to do it? Why don’t they make time for it? 

It’s punitive. No one is telling them they’re doing a good job. It’s disjointed from their day-to-day.

Yes to accountability, but no to a punitive approach

If I hear things like, “We want to require the users to have to watch the whole video before moving on,” or “Quizzing, quizzing, quizzing…we want tons of quizzing,” it’s my job to ask why. If the answer is that these things are required to send metrics to upper management, then we need to dig a little deeper, because there’s inherently a problem there. A punitive program and one that holds reps accountable are two very different things. In fact, accountability is one piece of what makes a basic sales training program successful. So, say yes to accountability, and no to a punitive approach. A good example of the difference here is utilizing certifications in Lessonly. Making it part of your reps’ coaching plan that they complete a certification for a specific skill is an example of holding them accountable to a process that will help them grow. Check out Phase 2 of our ebook about the best sales training programs to see an example of what certifying reps should look like. This works! 

Personalize training with your reps

Accountability of your reps requires a pulse on their engagement in the LMS: completion, reviewing their recorded practice submissions, and anything else that requires grading or input. It’s common that an enablement team produces great content with a great strategy, but falls behind on following up with reps on what they completed (when it’s necessary). It’s up to the organization whether this follow-up is done by the enablement team themselves, or the managers of the reps; although I see it work best when this is an expectation of team managers.

And I’d take it a step further. The best sales training programs don’t just stay on top of grading and feedback, they tie training to skill coaching. They focus on sales skills training. This means there are specific skills that are defined as most important to master as a sales person in the org. This could be product knowledge, Salesforce efficiency, negotiation tactics…the list goes on. The rep is clear that mastering these skills will lead to his/her ultimate success. And training is provided in accordance with what each individual reps struggles with. Imagine a world in which a sales rep has complete clarity around what they need to work on, and they are provided training on that as part of their coaching plan. Now imagine that manager being able to see that skill improve overtime and giving kudos to their rep for putting in the work to make it happen. THIS is what training is all about. And remember, these are salespeople! I am one, so I can say that we all love a good pat on the back. If you like this idea, but don’t have the infrastructure in place to make it happen, I’d recommend registering for our upcoming Skills Summit on May 18, 2021. We’ll introduce a product that’ll make your life a whole lot easier.

Adopt a continuous learning strategy

Ok, finally, the simplest of the three solutions. The top sales training programs 2020 saw in my customer base were those that built their programs around continuous learning. We all learn best when we really need to know something. Allowing your reps to find what they are looking for in a moment of need is imperative to knowledge retention. This is as much about a good software solution that allows for intuitive searchability and an easy-to-use application (like Lessonly) as it is about the culture you create around your sales training program in the org.

If reps are coming to managers with questions, and the answer is in Lessonly (which it should be if you are focused on continuous learning!), encourage those managers to send links to the lesson or just say, “It’s in Lessonly (or whatever user-friendly tool you are using), go ahead and search for it there and let me know if you don’t find what you are looking for.” In my experience with sales orgs, when reps stop constantly asking managers questions and learn to first reference Lessonly, the time that is freed up for managers is extremely valuable. Time is money, after all. Easier for the rep, easier for the manager, more money back to the bottom line. 

If you’re like some of my customers wondering if your sales training program is making a difference, ask yourself why the reps don’t want to do it. Is it punitive? Are they clear that they are making progress as a result of the time they put into training? Is what they need available to them when they need it? 

Cheers to doing better work and building great sales training programs in 2021!


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