Sometimes, it can be good to get out of your comfort zone and learn new things from other industries. Sales is an area of training that is extremely widespread and researched. Many companies have sales training techniques perfected in an effective program to create sales stars. If you’re not in sales, maybe there are some things you can learn from the ways people train those in sales.
Make Use of Coaching
As children, we learn more from watching what our parents do than what they actually tell us. That’s why parents use the cliché “Do as I say, not as I do!” Learning by watching others is powerful. One of the best ways to get a new employee up to snuff is to pair them with an experienced coach. A coach can show a learner the subtleties of their new responsibilities the way videos or reading reference guides can’t.
Some companies fear coaching because the don’t wish to pass down bad habits or unapproved practices to new employees. In that case, it might be wise to look into train-the-trainer programs that make sure those in coaching positions are aware of and make good use of approved best practices.
ROLE PLAY TRAINING TECHNIQUE
Role play is especially useful if you hope to train people on anything that has to do with interacting with others. Sometimes just reading about interaction techniques doesn’t help when it comes to actually applying it in the real world. People tend to get nervous and revert to tactics that are comfortable for them.
Daniel Watts, a member of our sales team, says that when it comes to cold-calling, “everyone in sales is hesitant to get hung up on or yelled at on the other line. The more you practice and have the other person be ‘difficult’, the easier it gets.”
Role-play gives learners an opportunity to practice interactions in a low-stakes, safe environment. It might be especially helpful for potentially difficult conversations.
- Doctors who may have to share difficult or devastating news with patients
- Retail workers who may have to react quickly to an upset or hard-to-please customer
- Cashiers or bankers who may encounter thieves or robbery
- Manual laborers or factory workers who could face a physically dangerous situation or an emergency
SHARE SUCCESS STORIES
Success stories are crucial in many industries. Watts said, “As a company we share high-level stories in our meetings and help paint the picture on how we brought a particular client in.” These stories can teach us new ways of doing something, they can open up discussions about technique, and they can motivate us to be better. “When we have a sales meeting that focuses on these wins, it becomes far more beneficial.”
Another one of our sales team members, Joe Yates, says: “This helps newer reps learn about the sales techniques that have worked for others, and it’s also a good reminder for tenured sales reps about what has worked in the past. It helps everyone get on the same page and get back to basics sometimes.”
On the other hand, sharing about your losses or things that went wrong is another way to learn from one another. This is a bit more difficult; it requires a certain vulnerability to share the ways you were unsuccessful. But it’s just as important. As Watts says, “A second set of eyes really helps you drop your ego at the door.”
At eLogic, the sales teams gets together at least once a year to share what happened during significant losses. While not every deal is winnable, talking about the losses helps the team understand what actions and extra effort could have tipped the odds in their favor.
Create a safe environment for employees to share the mistakes they made and exchange ideas for performing better next time. Yates shared with us that “there is no better teacher than failure. Hearing about what caused someone to lose a sale is the most valuable coaching tool there is, in my opinion.”
GROUP OPPORTUNITY REVIEWS
In sales, an opportunity is a prospect that the salesperson believes might be a good candidate for purchasing the product. In a group opportunity review, the team gets together to look at the potential customers and help each other think of ways to turn that opportunity or potential client into an actual client.
The eLogic sales team hosts group opportunity reviews on a regular basis. Watts said, “Anytime you can have other sales veterans focus on your opportunity, it’s going to help significantly… Probably the most important part of the opp reviews is confirmation. I have had many times where I know I need to do something and I talk myself out of it, or just stare at it hoping to change. Having my peers really push me and sometimes giving me that swift kick in the butt is huge.”
Outside of sales, this can take place in the form of teams getting together to talk about what they’re working on and sharing the things they’re struggling with. The power of the team to offer ideas, brainstorm, and lift each other up is a way for everyone to learn and build better relationships among team members.
It’s also a great idea to include other departments or colleagues with other specialties in these kinds of meetings. Yates shared, “I love the insight provided from non-sales personnel because they approach this situation from an entirely different point of view. Sometimes the sales guys all come up with similar advice, but our marketing personnel and solutions architects see things completely different from their vantage point.”
PRODUCT TRAINING TECHNIQUE
The eLogic sales team is selling business software that meets very specific needs, so one of the most important ways we support the team is to train them on the business impacts of particular software functionality. This enables the sales team to demonstrate to prospects what our software can do for them. Potential clients really appreciate the knowledge and the ability to ask questions and have them answered.
That product knowledge is not only useful in sales. For example, workers in distribution roles need to understand the product so they can find the right balance between safe and cost-effective transport. Employees in IT and support need to understand products so they can better fix them. Those working in retail need to understand how to properly care for the products on their shelves – and they often have a role in selling product as well. Product training techniques have a wide variety of uses worth exploring.
Another great option for continuous learning is providing platforms for workers to share resources. Whether it’s a Wiki or database or Salesforce, or even a bulletin board in the hallway, having an area for learners to share things with each other will spread knowledge and motivate learning. This training technique should be supervised to make sure that shared knowledge doesn’t conflict with company best practices.
FOSTER A CULTURE OF LEARNING
Several of these suggestions involve commitment over time to create continuous learning. This keeps employees on their toes and always ready to improve their day-to-day skills in small ways on a frequent basis. In order to do this successfully, you must encourage employees to be excited about learning through fostering a culture of learning.
This can be done with consistent communication about learning and asking company leaders to model the importance of learning by engaging in it themselves, talking about learning, and offering incentives.
These sales training techniques work for many sales teams (including our own!) and hopefully will give you some ideas for out-of-the-box ways to create learning on your own team, whatever industry you work in, and encourage team members to share and foster continuous learning.
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