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6 Sales Training Ideas for Your Next Team Meeting

When you hear “sales training,” you probably think of an offsite retreat. You and your team are sitting in a conference room somewhere for one or two days learning new processes, techniques, and methods for selling. You’re also hearing from product managers, the marketing team, and sales leadership.

This type of sales training is important! It provides an opportunity for breakthroughs, and the shared experience helps foster a healthy team culture. Sales training shouldn’t be limited to these infrequent events, however – it should be ongoing.

Without ongoing sales training, the team’s skills can stagnate. Experienced team members may go into a rut, sticking to a few tried and true methods. Newer or more junior members of the team may have a limited set of information and techniques, resulting in a slower ramp period.

One of the best ways to provide sales training on an ongoing basis is in your regularly scheduled sales team meetings.

Below, we’ve identified six sales training ideas to include in your sales team meetings, as well as some exercises you can do with your team in the meetings.

1. Practice 30-Second Commercials

Years ago, a client of ours did an exercise. They had each of their client-facing team members (about 20 people) record an introduction of the company. When they played the video back to the team, they were shocked to realize every single person introduced the company differently. While some variation was simply due to personal language choices, other introductions were quite off base – talking about old strategies and using outdated messaging.

Having a consistent 30-second commercial allows you to ensure that prospects are hearing the same message, which is aligned with your company’s strategy.

This exercise can be covered in one sales meeting or split into two. First, work with your team to develop a series of 30-second commercials targeted to your key categories of prospects. Click here to learn about how to develop these 30-second commercials and what to include.

Now…practice, practice, practice! You should role practice your 30-second commercials until they sound comfortable and conversational. Remember, nothing ever sounds the same in conversation as it reads on the page.

2. Share Success Stories

Stories are an incredibly powerful tool in selling, and when you are part of a team, you can leverage each other’s stories in conversations with prospects and clients.

Ensure that you are consistently sharing success stories in your sales team meetings. Solicit stories from the team, and assign each team member a date to share a success story of their own.

Remember, a strong sales success story will include the following three elements:

  1. The problem your client faced
  2. The solution you provided
  3. The business impact attributable to your solution – both direct and indirect

Provide constructive feedback to the team as they share their stories.

A second way to include success stories in sales training is to ask team members to share key success stories that are not their own – this ensures that the team is learning the important stories that demonstrate your value. Clients of ours have the “jam jar story” and the “Christmas party story,” which everyone on the team can tell.

One final approach for including success stories in your sales meetings is to put your team on the spot. Introduce a scenario with a prospective customer and ask the team to identify a success story that would help this prospect discover that you can provide a solution to their problems.

3. Share and Practice Common Objections & Push backs

As your team is talking to prospects and customers, they’re probably hearing the same objections over and over again. One of your team members probably knows exactly what to say if a prospect says your price is too high, while another can expertly communicate your value when prospects are concerned you are too small.

A solid response to a challenging objection can establish credibility and authority on behalf of your company, increasing the chance of a successful close. Sharing these best-practice push backs to common objections helps everyone on the team improve.

Work with your team to brainstorm the most common objections you hear; then develop a list of best-practice push backs. You may want to identify more than one push-back for each objection. Practice handling objections within the team so each team member is comfortable when speaking to prospects.

4. Practice Leaving Compelling Voicemail’s

Be honest – do you check your voicemail? How often do you listen through a message and follow up?

Leaving compelling voicemail’s is one of the most difficult basic selling skills. It’s a challenge to be intriguing, clear, and concise. This is a great skill to practice in your sales team meetings!

Have the team take turns sharing their voicemail scripts. Record the best scripts in the Sales PlayBook for the team to use on an ongoing basis, and consider rewarding the team member who comes up with the best script.

5. Share a Current Article or Video

Valuable new content is produced on a daily basis, and your team may not be reading it. While you don’t want them spending all of their time reading blogs and brushing up on their selling skills, it is important to stay on top of new methods and trends.

Your sales team meetings are a great time to review the best new thoughts in selling in your industry. Instead of taking full responsibility for identifying and sharing topics, assign members of your team to present each week. This gives them the opportunity to share with their peers, and you’ll discover more diverse topics than you’d find on your own.

6. Learn from Other Departments

One of the most valuable parts of a sales training retreat is often the interaction with other departments. Sales gets a chance to hear from marketing, the product team, and finance. All too often, this is a rare opportunity.

On a regular basis, invite team members from other departments to participate in your sales team meetings, either by providing training or to answer questions from sales. Ask your team what they’d most like to learn and find the best resource within your organization to share it.

One of the most constant complaints we hear from both salespeople and sales managers is that they hate their sales team meetings. They’re boring, going into detail about everyone’s opportunities, or they’re tedious, with only the manager talking.

Instead of a traditional sales team meeting, focus on incorporating opportunities for growth and team-building. Sales training is something you should include in every meeting!

Remember, you don’t have to cover all of these ideas in one meeting. Alternate according to your team’s needs, or develop a consistent rotating schedule. Remember that reinforcing training concepts is the most important thing you can do to make sure you get the ROI on your training investment.

Try these out and let us know what’s working for you!

8 Tips for Training your Small Business Employees on a Budget

Well-trained employees are essential to the success of your business. Unfortunately, in a bad economy, a business’ training budget is often the first thing cut. It may make sense at the time, but the long-term implications can far outweigh the immediate costs saved.

Over time, a lack of training may reduce motivation levels and business inefficiencies and, most detrimentally, result in staff turnover – which in itself can be costly. According to a 2008 article in HR Management, replacing a worker costs on average 100-125 percent of an employee’s annual salary in lost productivity, recruitment costs and new hire training.

But how can you train your employees well without breaking your budget? Here are eight tips.

    1. Join Associations or Trade Groups

Many industry associations offer training programs for members at annual events, online, and at seminars.  Check out your trade association website or newsletter for training opportunities that may be included in your membership.

    1. Find Trainers Within Your Organization

Got someone in your organization who has strong communication and interaction skills and the patience to help others learn? Consider appointing them as a trainer. Have them attend classes and come back prepared to share what they’ve learned. You can also buy training materials and use them to equip your trainer

    1. Host Weekly or Monthly Brown-Bag Lunches

These are a great way for team members to get involved in new things and help educate the wider team about how each employee contributes to the business. Ask employees to come prepared to talk about a topic. You’d be surprised how little the different teams know about what the others do and how it benefits everyone.  A sales rep might present an overview on the sales process, and how important each business function and individual is to ensuring a happy customer. An employee who is exploring a new way of doing business can also share it over lunch.

    1. Use Online Training Courses

Online courses are a great way for employees to learn at their own pace and select from a wide variety of courses, some of them free or at low-cost. Organizations such as Learning Tree, Dale Carnegie, BizLibrary and the Business Training Institute all offer a large selection of online classes.

    1. Cross-Train Employees in the Workplace

This is common practice in businesses that need an agile workforce ready and equipped to take on other roles should business requirements change. You can do this by looking at different jobs in your organization as hands-on training opportunities for others. Give employees new roles or responsibilities. Have them shadow someone who is already doing these tasks for a few days, until they are ready to try the new role on their own. Rotate roles frequently so your employees are continuously learning and challenged to achieve new things.

    1. Start a Mentorship Program

Consider partnering new or less experienced employees with mentors. For example, an up-and-coming sales rep might benefit from sitting in on sales planning sessions or attending important off-site customer meetings with a more senior employee.

    1. When You Need to Bring in the Pros

These options can all be fulfilled at a low cost, but what if you need to solve very specific problems?  You may need to invest in an off-site training program where employees benefit from fewer distractions and an interactive class room environment. If you are training multiple people, a more cost-effective and time-saving option might be to bring a trainer on-site.

Ask other business owners or your local Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center about courses and classes that fit your needs and your budget.

    1. Set Goals and Measure Success

Lastly, before you embark on any training or mentoring program, be specific about what you and your employees want to achieve. Use annual performance reviews to gauge competency gaps as well as your employee’s desired areas of improvement. Then put specific training goals in place for each employee. Let your employees know that you will assess the impact the training has had on their overall job skills and performance on a six-month and annual basis.

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