Need some new sales training ideas? It's not always about reinventing the wheel.
Sales leaders can improve performance by developing a training program that leverages existing resources. Specifically, these are best practices for selling that people on the team are executing. Your top performers are the people who are most likely to have this know-how. However, non-salespeople in the organization can provide sales thought leadership as well.
Leveraging Your Own Resources: 3 Sales Training Ideas
1. Sales training ideas: How to leverage top performing salespeople as thought leaders.
When we work with organizations to develop sales training programs, we ask the top performers to contribute early on in the process. Quite often, the client’s senior management asks for help to get their top producers to buy in. If the salespeople are super resistant because of some deep-rooted issues we're not aware of, I work with them by sharing a story in my first training. It’s about how I became a thought leader while I was a top sales performer.
Here's the story:
The story begins when I was an Account Executive at General Electric. I was consistently in the top spot on the sales team. Being number one for me was my biggest motivator. Even above making more commission, which sounds crazy to me now. Back then, I was kind of a maverick and held my secret sauce close to the vest. However, it got harder and harder to stay in that top spot, despite everything I did like getting to the office earlier or staying later. Then one day I made a big discovery.
I imagined I was carrying a jar of secret sauce. To keep it fresh, I needed to add new secret sauce! But, to do that, I needed to empty out the stuff that was already there. To do that, I had to give my secret sauce away. Giving away my sales secrets to the rest of the team made me go out and get more. I called this my “wheel of innovation.”
I remained as a top performer because I had created a challenge for my teammates and for myself. We all wanted to learn the best way to sell. All the time! Although this created some internal competition, it also fostered collaboration. We all worked closely together to improve what we had all learned. It became a game. We all developed our own wheels of innovation and shared them. Doing this helped us benefit collectively, as well as individually. Thus, we were leveraged as thought leaders!
2. Sales training ideas: How to leverage non-salespeople as thought leaders.
People outside of the sales department can also contribute to the development of an effective sales training program. The first thing we do with a new client is form a Sales Growth team. This team works together to develop the program with us, including unique content for the online Sales PlayBook. On average, the team consists of 30%-40% from within the sales department and 60%-70% from other departments, such as Marketing, HR, Operations/Delivery, IT, and senior executives.
These people share valuable insights by providing “outside of the forest” perspectives that salespeople miss.
3. Sales training ideas: Develop an internal sales coaching program.
Coaching salespeople on development and execution of best practices is critical to the success of any sales growth training program. We advocate that most of the coaches are at a peer level to those being coached. Coaches can be members of the sales growth team, but they don’t have to be. They also don’t all have to be part of the sales team.
The coach meets with their “coachees” individually or as a group once per week. The primary responsibility of the coach is to help their teammates execute best practices in the sales department.
Each coach meets with a coach of their own and occasionally meets with all fellow coaches as a group. Meeting with fellow coaches enables them to exchange best leadership coaching practices that apply across the entire sales department.
Each coachee commits to developing and publishing goals every week, month, quarter, and year. They also commit to discussing them with their coach. The coachee is encouraged to leverage all the resources and best practices for selling to accomplish their goals.
The Coaching Meeting
Attendees provide each other with progress on agreements made, and the coach holds the coachee accountable to accomplishing their goals.
Here are some potential topics for a coaching discussion:
• Discuss execution of goals and work on developing new goals.
• Commit to specific actions they will take before the next meeting.
• Identify barriers and challenges and brainstorm potential solutions.
• Coachees may also discuss issues. For example, identifying prospect targets or finding new ways to reach a known target.
The coach and coachee can structure these conversations as follows:
- Discuss background on the issue.
- Ask and answer clarifying questions.
- Provide coaching.
- Give feedback to each other and commit to follow-on actions.
- Provide updates after the meeting.
Coaches should ask best practice questions that are designed to help build accountability. Here are a few examples:
- How do you want me to hold you accountable?
- To what do you want me to hold you accountable?
- How should I interact with you when you have broken an agreement?
- What’s the impact to you and/or others of not being accountable?
- If you continue doing what you’re currently doing, what outcome do you think you’ll produce?
I hope these sales training ideas that leverage you own resources help you develop the best-selling practices possible for your organization!