Four Methods for Delivering Sales Training
4 Effective Methods for Delivering Sales Training
Sales training works best when it is delivered in multiple ways.
Sellers who engage with the material from different angles experience lasting change. They develop a deeper understanding of the skills. This approach is called blended learning.
Blended learning combines digital learning with in-person instruction. The result is a more dimensional understanding of the critical skills needed to win the sale. The value of a blended approach is supported by three concepts:
- Dual Coding: Learners are more likely to retain information when it’s stored in multiple ways
- Cooperative Learning: Learning is more complete when participants work together
- Interleaving: Alternating between topics, rather than taking a linear approach, leads to retention
These and other advantages are only present when the sales training is delivered through a range of methods.
Here we look at the four methods used for delivering sales training, why each is effective, and why using a combination of each leads to the best results.
In-Person Instructor-Led Training Delivery
In-person instructor-led sales training is the practice of face-to-face sales training between facilitators and sellers.
This approach requires sellers and the sales leader to schedule time when the team will be part of a classroom experience. During in-person training, each seller is focused entirely on the instructor’s content.
The key benefit to this approach is that it earns the seller’s undivided attention. When sales professionals are in a classroom there are no emails or calls to pull their attention away from training. A concept can be explored from beginning to end without interruption. An in-person training experience also signals to the sales team that the training is important enough to warrant pulling a sales team out of the field. As a result, sellers are more likely to carry skills from training into the field.
In-person instructor-led training presents opportunities to:
- Engage in role-play exercises
- Ask the instructor questions in the moment
- Exchange ideas between participants
- Encourage participation by asking learners spontaneous questions
- Tie concepts to sales opportunities that are in pursuit
Virtual Instructor-Led Sales Training Delivery
Virtual instructor-led sales training simulates the classroom experience in a digital setting. The instructor works over video conference to teach selling skills.
A virtual approach enables sellers to have direct access to instructors without the logistical challenges and costs associated with in-person learning. The sales organization doesn’t need to fly a distributed team into a central location.
This training delivery method often consists of several sessions occurring over a few days. This “distributed practice” approach has been shown to boost learning by encouraging participants to use the pauses to convert short-term retention into long-term retention. Learners benefit in another way. Learners can use the breaks to practice concepts on active prospects. When returning to the next session they can report on outcomes and share lessons learned. Another major benefit to a virtual approach is speed. Most sales leaders can deploy virtual sales training fast. There is no need to secure a venue. There are no travel plans to arrange. Sellers start earlier and therefore bring skills to the field faster.
Virtual sales training presents opportunities to:
- Use polling, group chat, and breakout groups to boost engagement
- Create individual accountability with periodic assessments
- Foster cooperation among learners with the screen share function
- Help learners get comfortable with online interactions common to selling today
- Equip sellers with presentation skills that are effective over the virtual medium
Digital Sales Training Delivery
Digital sales training uses video, workflow tools, assessments, and CRM functions all of which offer sellers a self-guided learning experience.
This sales training approach allows sellers to learn at their pace. This method is effective for sales leaders who want to train their teams while keeping them engaged with their leads. Skills can be quickly brought into the flow of work.
Digital sales training is also a way for managers to quickly align sellers to a new sales methodology by incorporating the concepts directly into the CRM system. This sales training method is also highly effective for coaches. When the learning experience is entirely digital coaches can easily view the seller’s progress and pin point any areas where additional coaching is needed. Selling organizations that take this approach are also able to make changes to the curriculum fast. This flexibility is important in the current sales setting which is characterized by frequent change and a dynamic buying journey.
Digital sales training presents opportunities to:
- Develop training that is highly customized to changes in the market
- Create a curriculum that can be quickly expanded with supplemental courses
- Deploy training across a geographically distributed team
- Narrow the gap between theory and practice by connecting skills to pursuits
- Give sellers freedom to train the way they want
Sales Coaching Training
Sales coaching training is the act of equipping sales leaders and managers with the skills needed to develop the capabilities of their sales team.
The idea behind this approach is simple: developing effective sellers means first developing effective coaches. If the coach understands the critical selling skills that win and the ways to instill them in a seller then the company will succeed.
Sales coaching training teaches leaders the planning, communication, and follow-up skills needed to improve performance across all tenures. With these skills, the coaches learn to bring structure to coaching conversations. As a result, sales leaders can ensure a consistent coaching methodology across the sales organization. This kind of training is usually paired with sales training so the coach understands both the selling skills and the capabilities needed to develop those skills within sellers. Commonly, sales coaching training prepares leaders to foster buy-in among sellers, improve accountability, align disparate sales approaches to a single methodology, and build the seller’s ownership of outcomes.
Sales coaching training presents opportunities to:
- Seize on everyday opportunities to coach in the moment
- Build a sense of trust across a sales team
- Apply coaching techniques to the leader’s development
- Create a degree of self-coaching among sellers
- Improve performance incrementally by moving sellers into a “stretch zone”
The Power of a Blended Approach
By blending the above approaches the sales organization is able to capitalize on the strongest benefits of each method.
For example, a selling team can jump-start sales training with a virtual method then use in-person selling to learn specialized skills like negotiation which are best learned with role-play exercises.
This style enables participants to benefit from a three-part cadence:
- Priming with digital learning
- Workshop experience for practice and refinement
- Digital tools for ongoing sustainment
Blended learning is more effective than traditional learning techniques because it addresses critical steps that must occur before, during, and after live instruction. Blended learning places an emphasis on not only learning the material but on learning how to apply the material. This focus on practical application resonates with sales professionals who are eager to gain a competitive edge and win the sale.
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