How To Build Effective Sales Training Programs For Your Team

Sales training equips your team with the proper tools and resources, leading to increased win rates, reduced acquisition costs, and higher profit margins.

sales training

Solid product-market fit and stellar marketing generate interest in your products. But to convert interested prospects into paying customers, you’ll need a dedicated sales team. 

More importantly, your sales team must have the proper sales enablement tools and training to succeed in today’s competitive markets. That’s what we’re discussing in today:

  • Why is sales training is necessary for SaaS companies?
  • What topics should be included in sales training?
  • Who should receive sales training?
  • Sales courses vs. coaching
  • Sales training best practices

Why is Sales Training Necessary for SaaS Companies

SaaS companies often face the same issue—filled pipelines with low conversions. That’s what happens when companies focus too much on marketing. But when SDRs and account executives receive the proper sales training, they get the following benefits: 

Increased Win Rates

According to statistics from Rain Insights, SaaS companies have an average win rate of 22%. However, this rate can increase to 17.7% with formal sales training. That’s thanks to improved negotiation, objection handling, and value propositioning skills.

Studies from the Association for Talent Development also show that companies that invest in proper sales training can see up to 218% higher revenue than those that do not. 

Reduced Customer Acquisition Costs

If conversions are low, SDRs and marketing teams often overcompensate by trying to find more leads. That means spending more on ads, content marketing, and outbound sales. 

Proper training helps your account executives focus on prospects likely to convert into sales. It also enables SDRs to improve qualification and segmentation, reducing customer acquisition costs.  

Boost in Premium Pricing Sales

Sales training empowers your team to fully understand your prospect, enabling them to better position your premium products as the ultimate solution to unconsidered needs. 

Higher Profit Margins

Teams who improve sales negotiation skills generate higher revenue. Research from the Training Industry suggests that companies investing in sales training see 50% higher net sales and 12% higher profit margins.

Growth in Existing Accounts

It’s easier and more cost-effective to convince existing customers to buy more products or upgrade existing plans than to acquire newer prospects. Sales training can help your account executives find growth opportunities in existing accounts, increasing your customers’ average order value. 

What Should Sales Training Involve

what is sales training

You should cater sales training to where your team struggles the most. Here are five common aspects of sales most teams need help with: 

Needs Discovery

Most sales teams fail because they focus too much on the product, not their prospects’ needs. Sales training gives your account executives the proper techniques to fully understand their prospects’ needs, allowing them to position your products to meet them. 

Objection Handling

Prospects will always have objections to your product, even if it is a perfect fit. How your sales team responds to these objects often determines if prospects convert or look the other way. 

Proper training enables your sales team to be dynamic and use insights from needs discovery to address common objections. 

Sales Qualification

Lead Qualification is essential to every sales process. It enables account executives to focus on prospects with the highest buying intent. Sales training includes learning frameworks for qualification, lead segmentation, and building the perfect ICPs for your business. 

Sales Negotiation Tactics

Sales negotiations are a two-way street. Your sales team won’t be the only ones trying to negotiate. Buyers will also employ tactics to help them get the best deal possible. Sales training lets your team find a middle ground where both parties win. 

Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting offers a systematic, measurable, and repeatable way for your business to sustain its pipelines. Training equips your team with the proper strategies and tools for streamlining and optimizing sales prospecting. 

Prospecting can be done through inbound or outbound sales. Inbound sales strategies include content marketing, blogs, or organic social media posts. Outbound covers outreach campaigns like email marketing or cold calls. 

For example, sales teams who learn to use sales engagement tools like Instantly can streamline and automate cold email campaigns at scale. 

Who Should Receive Sales Training?

business development

You should view sales with a holistic approach to business development, covering the entire sales process.

Ideally, all individuals involved in the sales process should receive sales training. But, two of the most important roles that benefit the most from sales training are:

Sales Managers

Research from Rain Group suggests that new account executives are 240% more likely to be top performers with an effective manager, and managers themselves are 46% more likely to be effective when they receive proper sales training. 

Remember, being good at sales doesn’t necessarily translate to being a good sales manager. A sales manager includes added leadership responsibilities such as coaching, forecasting, and consistently motivating sales teams to hit sales targets.

Sales Professionals

“Sales professionals” is an umbrella term that covers roles such as sales development representatives (SDRs), business development representatives (BDRs), account executives (AEs), and customer success managers (CSMs). 

You should train each role in specific aspects of the sales process. For example, SDRs primarily focus on prospecting, qualification, and lead list building. AEs build relationships with qualified prospects, nurture them, and close the sale. 

Sales Training Coach Vs. Courses

Coaches offer an objective look into what your sales team needs to succeed. They can provide 1:1 sessions, give detailed insights, and streamline learning. However, finding good coaches can be difficult. Many coaches online are good at marketing themselves as coaches but provide surface-level value. 

Courses are better for teams that want to self-learn. The best part about courses is that your team can take them on their own time and find classes that help specific aspects of sales they struggle with. But, you miss out on the tailored sales training from coaches. 

How to Build Your Own Sales Training Program

Aside from getting sales training with a coach or courses, you can also build your own sales training program in-house with the help of your company’s top sales performers. Here’s a template you can use to develop your own sales training program:

Define Goals and Metrics

Establishing key goals and metrics helps you reverse engineer the steps required to achieve them. Ask yourself which metrics drive the most success. The answer will help you identify the sales roles that need the most training.

Identify Sales Roles to Train

Identifying the sales roles that struggle to hit goals streamlines in-house sales training. For example, SDRs might need help finding qualified leads, and account executives may have issues closing sales. Learning which roles to train helps you finalize a list of sales training topics. 

Finalize List of Sales Training Topics

Several topics can help your sales team achieve their goals. Focus on topics that build on sales fundamentals, such as rapport building, need discovery, and value proposition delivery. 

Find Who Will Carry Out Training

Sales include several disciplines, which means multiple high-performing people in different departments in your company can carry out training. 

Let’s say you want to train your sales reps in rapport building. This includes learning empathy and navigating conversations through shared experiences—things most HR heads use daily. 

Marketing department heads can also teach sales reps to better communicate value propositions to prospects without sounding too “salesy” in sales emails or business proposals. 

Training Delivery Approach

Sales training can be modular, multimodal, or purpose-built. Choose a modular approach if you want more generalized sales training.

Multi-modal combines training programs, which can be instructor-led, and leverages training videos and other sales enablement resources. The purpose-built approach tailors sales training for specific roles.

You can focus on one delivery approach or a combination of each. For example, you can start training sessions with modular lessons, interactive exercises, and group or individual coaching with feedback. 

Reinforce Training

There are four simple steps that can significantly improve sales training reinforcement.

  1. Learning new information
  2. Encoding new information from short-term to long-term memory
  3. Recalling exercises
  4. Applying new information through exercises and activities

According to psychology studies, a skill takes an average of two months to become a habit. Consistent training reinforcement is required to instill new skills into habitual practice in daily sales tasks. 

Monitor Progress

You can implement a mix of quantitative and qualitative benchmarks to monitor the progress of your team’s sales training. Quantitative indicators include numerical data, while qualitative data track the behavior and attitude of your team.

Remember to compare data before and after sales training was implemented. These metrics can be divided between leading and lagging sales data. 

Examples of leading sales data:

  • Sales pipeline growth
  • Outbound activity (number of meetings, email reply rates, number of discovery calls)
  • Sales productivity (time spent selling vs. prospecting)

Examples of lagging sales data:

  • Conversion rates 
  • Customer lifetime value (CLTV)
  • Average account revenue per seller 
  • Business churn rates
  • Sales goal attainment percentage

Feedback and Sales Enablement

Soliciting feedback, input, and opinions from your customers, company stakeholders, or department heads is a great way to measure the success of your sales training program.

Considering input from internal and external stakeholders creates a feedback loop that promotes continued learning and adoption from your sales team. 

Why Do Sales Training Programs Fail?

Studies suggest that 85% to 90% of sales training only produces favorable results within the first 120 days. Even with proper training, your sales team can still fail due to the following: 

No Accountability From Managers

Managers need the proper sales enablement tools, resources, and training to keep sales teams accountable. With accountability from managers, your sales team will likely return to good habits.

No Tailoring

Sales training must be tailored for specific roles and situations. Ensure you’re taking the time to tailor learning materials and resources relevant to your sales team. 

Retention Issues

Sales training should include both lessons and implementation. After training modules, your team must have activities that allow them to use their new-found knowledge and sales skills. There should also be consistent coaching, input, and feedback from stakeholders. 

Sales Training Best Practices

sales teams

To ensure that you’re making the most out of your sales training programs, consider the following best practices:

Assess Individual Sales Skills

Each salesperson has their strengths and weaknesses. Allowing them to assess their skills through self-assessment tests enables them to gauge their capabilities honestly. 

Individual assessments help your sales team answer questions like:

  • What sales skills do I need to improve on?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the factors that contribute to my success?

These types of self-assessment also help you tailor sales training programs for different sales roles. 

Always Establish Goals and Track Metrics

Sales training programs should always be based on business goals. However, it is also essential to track and measure your sales teams’ individual goals. 

This will help you hold your team accountable for their benchmarks. Encourage them to create action plans and identify the key metrics you need to track.

These metrics can be a focal point during one-on-one coaching or feedback sessions. Use the data to understand why your team excels or falls short and tailor training around those strengths and weaknesses. 

Practice Simulated Sales Deck and Negotiation

Simulations are a great way to put newly acquired knowledge and skills into practice. They’re also crucial for retention in sales training. 

Remember to build your simulations around different customer demographics, stages of the buyer journey, or examples of real-life negotiation scenarios.

Key Takeaways

Sales training is essential for finding success in competitive markets. It should be accompanied by the proper sales enablement tools and resources, learning retention strategies, and feedback from internal and external stakeholders. To recap, here are some key insights you might’ve missed: 

  • Sales training improves win rates, reduces acquisition costs, and boosts profit margins.
  • Sales training programs should include topics on needs discovery, objection handling, sales qualification, and prospecting.
  • Coaches can offer tailored sales training, while courses provide a generalized approach.
  • Sales training fails with no manager accountability, tailoring, and retention exercises.
  • When building a program, ensure individual skills are assessed, business goals are established, and simulated sales scenarios are practiced.

When you’re ready to apply your sales training skills in the real world through outbound campaigns, Instantly is there to back you up. Streamline prospecting, nurturing, and land more deals today with Instantly!