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Why Sales Training Matters & How to Find the Right Program

We take a deep dive into different types of sales training and why you should invest in your team.

Chloe Lloyd · March 1, 2021
Why Sales Training Matters & How to Find the Right ProgramWhy Sales Training Matters & How to Find the Right Program

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Companies are investing more now in training than ever before. It’s reported that sales organizations are spending upwards of $20 billion a year on training alone.

If you’re not investing in training your team, you can bet that your competitors are training theirs.

Becoming a sales expert doesn’t happen overnight. Sure, you might have a handful of reps with a unique ability to sell anything you put in front of them. But for the majority of reps, it takes time, experience—and the right training.

In this guide, we’ll share our take on why sales training is so valuable, and how to find the perfect sales training program for your team.

What is sales training?

Unsure what sales training really is? Here’s a simple definition:

Sales training is the process of upskilling your sales team with relevant knowledge, skills, and insights to help them work at their best.

These can take the form of professional development programs developed by experts, or simple feedback given from other members on your team. There’s a range of options out there, including webinars, role-play workshops, or two-day in depth courses.

Generally speaking, popular sales training programs cover topics like:

  • Prospecting
  • Sales calls
  • Proposal writing
  • Negotiation
  • Closing sales
  • Client onboarding
  • Sales management
  • Sales methodology
  • Sales strategy
  • Account based sales
  • Consultative selling
  • Proposal writing
  • Social selling
  • Moving from field sales to remote

Alongside those hard skills, sales training programs can also give your team a boost in other areas. They’ll often walk away from a skills training course with a deeper understanding of soft skills like:

  • Listening
  • Presentation skills
  • Confidence
  • Empathy
  • Problem solving

Regardless of the format, the best sales training gives your team a helping hand to build key sales skills and techniques they’ll need in their daily role. It’ll give sales reps a fix for their challenges, and helps you move past them with confidence.

6 reasons why you should invest in sales training

If you have the budget, investing in sales training should probably be at the top of your list—especially if you’ve noticed your team isn’t hitting sales targets, or if you want to build a super team of sales experts.

There are plenty of great reasons to invest in sales training. Here are some of the best.

1. Upskill your staff

Sales training programs can give your teams a healthy boost in those essential selling skills—like negotiation or how to close a deal. It’s no wonder upskilling is a priority for more than half of learning and development pros as we head into 2021.

Not only that, but sales training can be especially useful if your sales reps are switching focus. If employees are making the move from field sales to remote sales, for example, offer a crash course that explains how they can transition their skills and techniques in their new role.

The following courses might be useful to them:

You could offer upskill courses to underperforming reps, too. Teams with inexperienced or unsure staff are unlikely to hit targets or exceed your expectations. That’s no fun for anyone.

Instead of waving goodbye, give your team the power to make a positive impact on their sales performance by training them on key sales techniques and skills. And don’t be afraid to send people on refresher training too—we all forget sometimes.

(Even if you have a bright candidate for a leadership position, sales training isn’t off the cards. Send them on a sales strategy course and give them room to grow.)

Remember: each skill they build through a sales training program can help them close more deals when they’re back at their desk.

2. Increase sales

Is your sales team failing to hit their sales targets? Do you want to bring on more customers? Professional sales training can help get you there.

Research by CSO Insights shows a strong relationship between effective training and increased quota attainment. The results were especially impressive for social selling, with a 33% uplift in closed leads as a result of the specialized training.

Review your sales process and see where your stumbling blocks are. Prospecting not looking so hot? Send your team on a course about how to seek out new business more effectively. Proposals letting you down? Invest in some top quality proposal writing training.

The great thing about investing in sales training to drive sales is that it ends up paying for itself. The money you spend on training now is likely to come back to you in the form of future sales opportunities your team are better-equipped to close.

3. Empower your team to feel confident and motivated

Knowledge isn’t just power. It’s also a great way to motivate your teams.

You can encourage your sales representatives to feel more confident at every stage of the process with best-in-class training.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. One of your team might be wonderful at negotiating but struggle to close the deal. Over time, that can really get to someone. Nip the issue in the bud and send them on a specialized sales training course that gives them the confidence to close deals like a pro, like this one:

You’ll always benefit from a team that’s happier, more motivated, and productive. They’ll feel more driven to chase leads, impress with their presentations, and exude the kind of confidence your customers will notice. Talk about a triple threat.

4. Gain a competitive advantage

Sales training can help you get a competitive advantage. But don’t just take our word for it. It’s proven that leading organizations are more than twice as likely to invest in tailored training programmes, with nearly half saying they spend “significant” time and money on training.

Knowing how to manage the selling process (and impress your customers) can give sales professionals a real edge. So, make sure your sales team is hot on the latest technology and sales techniques, and that they know your product and market inside out.

Their insights and confidence might win that new customer over.

5. Support your team’s careers

Sales isn’t just a job. It’s a profession, and a career that many sales reps feel passionate about.

Encourage that spark, and support their careers, by providing access to high quality sales training to everyone on your sales team.

This has a knock-on effect on future plans. For example: training your brightest sales representatives in sales strategy or sales coaching gives you a way to smoothly transition them into a management role. The following sales courses, all offered by LinkedIn are therefore worth looking into:

Regardless of how experienced your sales professionals are, support each team member by creating individual training plans for them.

Get a feel for what their career goals are, and which area of sales they want to specialize in. If employees have clear goals and the right challenges, they'll be more likely to succeed. Give them relevant sales training resources so they can develop their career.

Not everyone will stay with your company for years. That’s just how things work out sometimes. But, chances are, these future sales leaders will reflect on your company as the place where they were given the freedom to learn, grow, and become the sales pro that they are today. And that’s great for building a world class culture.

6. Retain your best sales representatives

Recruitment is expensive. On top of salary and bonuses, recruiting new sales staff means paying out for recruiters, training new hires, and a bunch of other costs. It’s no surprise why hiring a new employee can cost upwards of $7,000.

Avoid these costs—and keep your sales team around for the long haul—by being generous with your sales training programs.

Companies that invest in training are much more attractive than those that squabble over $200 for a sales training course. (You’d be surprised how many organizations aren’t flexible when it comes to learning and development.)

Why? Because people love having access to development opportunities. Research shows that 42% of millennials rate learning and development opportunities as the most important benefit when deciding where to work.

That desire to learn and improve doesn’t stop once they’ve joined your company, though. A massive 94% of people said they’d stay at a company longer if it invested in their career.

An easy way to do that—and cut retention and hiring costs—is by investing in training programs that help them learn new skills.

How to find the most effective sales training program for you

Investing in sales training feels like a win, right? Not only will you convince staff to stick around, but you can turn all of your representatives into top sellers.

The sales training landscape is vast, which is great because it means there’s plenty of choice.

That can come with a downside though; too many options equals a tough decision. Plus, not all programs are top-notch. Some 26% of reps rate their sales training as ineffective—potentially making it a waste of money if you choose the wrong programs.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you find the most successful sales training program for your team:

  • Focus: What do you want your team to learn? Which sales skill should the training focus on? Choose a program that focuses on that particular skill. It’s the best way to dive deeper into a topic, and learn things they might not already know.
  • Relevancy: Is the training relevant to your sales reps’ roles? If it isn’t now, does it fit with your plans for the future? Prioritize those you answer “yes” to.
  • Results: What results are you hoping to see from the sales training program? What have past learners gained from this particular training course? Generally speaking, the courses that have helped your reps most in the past should be on your list for other staff too.
  • Audience: Who will benefit most from this training? Should you send your whole sales team, a handful of people, or just sales managers?
  • Duration: Is the duration right for your team? What’s better: a half day, one day, or multiple day course? Would shorter sessions over multiple weeks work better?
  • Format: What format suits your team’s learning style best? Should you look for in-person workshops, consultancy, coaching, conferences, e-learning courses, or webinars?
  • Pricing: What’s your overall sales training budget? Is the training program you’re thinking of within this? Can you negotiate a discount? Would online sales training be more affordable? Or perhaps an in-house skill sharing session?

Research suggests the average company spends $1,400 per salesperson annually on training. So, think about the cost of training and whether it fits your budget, but also consider your return on investment.

If sending your sales team on a $2,000 course helps them land a $10,000 customer, there’s a potentially great ROI.

These questions might sound overwhelming when you first start looking into which sales training programs your team needs. But, that upfront work into building a shortlist of courses helps to make sure you’re getting maximum value from the ones you do invest in.

Bonus: get the most out of your sales training

Sales training is a huge investment. Not only in costs, but in time, energy, and direction. It makes sense to get the most bang for your buck.

To help you do that, here are some bonus tips to maximize the value you’ll get from your sales training program:

1. Create an in-house champion

Every company has that one person who’s great at working with others, and absorbs knowledge like a sponge. It’s smart to make them your in-house champion and have them become the go-to person for support and tips.

(Remember: this doesn’t have to be your top seller. It can be the person who everyone wants to talk to in the office; someone who’s opinions they value.)

This approach works especially well if you’ve just invested in sales tools like a CRM. Your champion can give the rest of the team a guided tour, run helpful training sessions, and be around to help with troubleshooting and advice.

Your sales training champion will end up knowing everything about the software you’ve just invested in, and they can share that with your team. Training that comes from a person they already know (and trust) can be more enjoyable—making your investment even more powerful, relevant, and impactful.

Plus, it’s a great way to support your champion’s career and give them something new to get excited about.

2. Encourage a culture of learning and improvement

Most of us jump at the chance to learn something new. It can take us away from the daily grind for a few hours and give us new tools and techniques to refresh us when we return.

That’s why we recommend fostering a love for innovation within your company. By adopting a culture of learning and improvement, you can create your own sales training playbook in-house—and get everyone excited about it.

The best part? You don’t have to head out to an expensive, consultant led sales training course every time you want to learn something new. In fact, 68% of employees prefer to learn at work, and 58% prefer to go at their own pace.

Set up internal training programs where your reps can learn from each other, stay up to date on industry news, and get the lowdown on the latest technology.

Encourage teamwork and let your brightest sales reps inspire the people around them.

3. Always focus on your customers

Sure, you’re sending your team on a sales training program ultimately so you can increase your sales and your profit. As a business, that makes a lot of sense.

But it also makes sense to think about how your sales training can create a better experience for your customers.

Data from LinkedIn shows 88% of people consider the sales representatives they eventually did business with to be their “trusted advisors.” People love passionate experts, and that expertise comes from both experience and relevant specialist training.

As you consider your sales training program for the future, think what your investment also means for your customers. Training your team to be better negotiators and manage their sales pipeline more effectively means a smoother sales process for your customer.

That can do wonders for those all important customer relationships… and increase the odds of you meeting those ambitious sales targets.

The bottom line? Keep your customer at the heart of what you do and your training programs. Not only will it deliver strong revenue results, but it’ll win you the trust and loyalty of your customers, too.

Ready to train your sales team for success?

There’s no doubt that sales training is one of the most valuable investments you can make in your business. It can drive customers your way, boost your rep’s confidence, and equip them with the skills to sell to anyone.

You don’t have to rush out and buy the best sales training programs if you’re just starting out.

Take some time to think about your company’s development plans. Think about how sales training can help you make a real world impact on your sales goals. Then, work with your team to create personalized learning plans—and make sales training a priority.

It’s the best way to keep your reps’ skills up to date, and get a ROI from your sales training investment.