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Building the Foundation for an Effective Sales Academy

A sales academy is a structured system for training and developing a sales team. A sales academy consists of numerous programs, which together form a single competency framework for driving the sales professional’s performance throughout their career. This learning design also offers the benchmarking tools needed to achieve consistency in best practices.

What is Included in a Sales Academy

A sales academy includes a collection of learning tools like written materials, instructor-led classroom training, digital learning tools, and coaching.

Leaders and trainers use whichever teaching method is best for conveying the material. For example, instructor-led classroom training is an effective way to learn and practice negotiating or handling objections because participants can engage in role play. Other attendees can offer feedback on the interactions and allow the learner to capitalize on broad-based insights.

Digital learning tools, which can be used on the go, are an excellent resource for field sales professionals working on site with customers. Online courses leverage multiple learning styles — auditory, visual, and written responses — and are suitable for all participants.

How Do You Start to Build a Sales Academy?

Start with a close review of the existing sales training structure within the selling organization. Have an honest discussion with the sales leader to determine what is working and what is not. Let the effective pieces survive into the new framework.

Next, look at the list of critical selling metrics to determine which will become your key focus. The idea is to start with the end in mind. For example, if the organization chooses to strategize around the goal of boosting contract value, then include material covering team selling, which is often necessary when engaging groups of decision makers common to large sales.

After these steps, expand the conversation. Talk to the sales professionals within the organization and determine where they believe they need to focus.

The sales professionals are your connection to the market; they understand what challenges and goals customers face. The intent is to identify the skills that are lacking or underdeveloped so that the training in the sales academy offers relevance. This step is critical because it makes the sales professional part of the building process, a critical step toward achieving buy-in once the academy is fully formed.

Using this feedback, partition the program into tiers. Each tier should address the skills necessary for the various selling styles.

Consider developing the academy into these five segments:

  • Inside Sales
  • Field Sales
  • Complex Field Sales
  • Service Sales
  • Sales Manager

Some of the critical skills will apply to more than one segment. For example, consultative selling skills will apply to inside sales professionals, field sales professionals, and sales managers. A more targeted group of skills, like large account planning, might only apply to global account managers.

At this point, the framework should start to take shape, but leaders will need to develop a baseline measurement strategy before going any further with the design. A sales academy is not a fixed structure; it will need to change over time. To make these changes, leaders need to know how business outcomes respond to the framework.

To learn more about creating a sales academy for your organization download the eBook, How to Build a Sales Academy: Engaging Sales Professionals at All Levels, by clicking here.

About the Author

Richardson is a global sales training and performance improvement company. Our goal is to transform every buyer experience by empowering sellers with critical skills so they can create value to buyers and drive meaningful conversations. Our methodology combines a market proven sales and coaching curriculum with an innovative and customizable approach to learning that ensures your sales teams learn, master, and apply those behaviors where and when it matters most — in front of your customers. It’s our job to anticipate change in your industry so that your sales team can focus on fostering long-term relationships, becoming indispensable partners for their buyers.

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Download the eBook - How to Build a Sales Academy: Engaging Sales Professionals at All Levels