12 Sales Training Ideas You Never Considered

January 29, 2020

Sara Howshar

Here at Chorus, there are few things we’re more passionate about than a robust, well-conceived, properly executed coaching strategy. Sales being the hyper-competitive place that it is, a business can potentially live or die by its ability to bring sales professionals up to speed.

As a result, coaching and the steady production of fresh, new sales training ideas can be major stressors for sales managers, particularly on SaaS sales teams. Everything, from conversational approach to presentation design to follow-up method to prospecting strategy, can come under the banner of sales training. Keeping these skills in balance throughout your team while addressing areas of weakness can seem daunting.

Well, rack your brain no longer — we’ve come up with a slate of ready-made sales training ideas to reinvigorate your team.

Why Continuous Sales Training Is Vital for Your Company #

SaaS companies are among the fastest moving — that goes for the products themselves and for the best practices needed to sell them effectively.

In short, success in sales is a matter of constant optimization. You can source new tools, new leads, and new additions to your sales team — the one resource you can’t buy is time. One of sales training’s primary uses is to show your reps how they can best use their time, resources, and attributes. New approaches and tools emerge frequently, from time-tracking software to new CRMs, and your team must be up-to-date.

Communication is law in sales, and even the most experienced reps can benefit from regular refreshers on the fundamentals. For your younger reps, frequent training will keep their pace of improvement high.

As your business grows and your product offering expands, you’ll change your sales methodologies to accommodate new verticals and new markets. Your sales team leads the charge, so keep them in the loop via regular sales training.

Tried-and-Tested Sales Training Ideas #

While making sales training fun and motivational with new ideas is a great way to approach coaching, some ideas have endured because of their consistent value.

1. Selling Through Curiosity #

If you want to talk about tried-and-tested sales training ideas, then talk about selling-through-curiosity training or STC. Presently undergoing a popular resurgence, STC has its roots in the Socratic method — talk about longevity.

STC involves a system of role-playing and group activity that develops a conversational-interview balance. A rep needs this balance while talking to a prospect in order to draw their interest. Its primary use, and one of the reasons behind its longevity, is to combat some of the main flaws of conventional sales training: weak best-practice sharing and poor reinforcement. Even great sales training ideas are useless without the proper reinforcement.

STC is also one of the most widely effective sales training ideas. However business changes around it, the art of conversation remains central when you’re trying to make a sale. New approaches to sales conversations can improve outcomes in every phase of the sales cycle.

2. Product Testing Sessions With Your Team #

Product expertise is fundamental in SaaS, where the most buy-ready prospects will also know the most about what they want. That makes product-testing sessions an important component of sales training.

It’s a tried-and-tested sales training concept because intimacy with your product is hard to fake — and so is the enthusiasm that comes with it. Remember those hardware salesmen at stores who spoke about their toolkit arrays with the zeal of a proud dad? Or how the best car salesperson knows all the specs for every car on the lot, from horsepower to wheel-tread thickness? Knowing how your product works, and what makes it great, is a priceless asset during a sale.

Host dedicated sessions where your team can play QA for a few hours. Help them try out new versions of your product, with a particular emphasis on newly released features.

3. Mock Presentations #

Delivering convincing presentations is an evergreen demand of sales — always has been, always will be. Knowing how to convincingly show off your product is an invaluable sales competency. In SaaS, particularly where product demos are a key aspect of the sales cycle, it’s more or less priceless.

To help your sales reps brush up on their speaking skills, host presentation labs where your team can practice developing sales decks, create a compelling narrative behind your product, and hone their delivery.

Personalizing presentations is a more recent development — one that you can also incorporate into your sales training plan. Knowing how to tailor not only what pain points you address but also what features to emphasize in your product is a key means of establishing a sales advantage. For example, at a prospective company, don’t show the same presentation to a tech lead that you’re also showing to its head of HR.

It’s a delicate skill of its own, and a sales training session devoted to personalized presentations can pay lasting dividends.

4. Regular Assessments #

A vital foundation for personalized coaching is establishing mutual accountability between sales rep and sales leads. One of the simplest ways of doing this is with self-assessment forms. A form might consist of several questions, including:

  • What have you focused on this week?
  • What roadblocks have you encountered?
  • How has your tech stack come in handy with solving issues this week?
  • What customer objections have you fielded this week?
  • Are there any areas where you’re experiencing trouble?

It’s a simple method of sales training that can lead to pronounced positive outcomes. By opening a dialogue between your reps and their corresponding sales leads, reps can be candid about areas of concern and get assistance from their immediate superiors.

5. Mentoring Programs #

Along similar lines of regular assessment and mutual accountability, mentoring programs are a for-all-seasons sales training idea. They’re also an excellent way to stimulate a flowing knowledge economy around your office and between levels of seniority.

Join up junior reps with experienced leads in your sales organization — you might do so in accordance with your junior reps’ stated career ambitions. Once your team members are paired up, set up regular water cooler talks between them. This time could be devoted to exchanging tips and techniques and general shoptalk. You might want to establish an informal agenda to guide these meetings, but often the meeting of these minds will do the work independently.

6. Objection Handling #

Roadblocks are inevitable during the long SaaS sales cycle — our research suggests that the average closed-won deal takes 96 days. Ask a SaaS sales rep what roadblocks they’ve encountered in the past two weeks, and you might hear any combination of:

  • Getting to the discovery phase only to discover that your decision-maker no longer has exclusive say over buying
  • A formerly enthusiastic prospect whose interest has inexplicably cooled
  • A keen prospect who didn’t like the demo version of the product they were sent
  • A prospect who thought that your product was overpriced

Knowing how to deal with these challenges — so-called objection handling — is a key skill for a rep. Part of it involves being diplomatic in the exchange: how to assuage a prospect’s concerns without being too categorical. However, objection handling is primarily handled by an entire sales team in a training environment dedicated to this particular problem.

Convene meetings where you share collective intelligence of recurring or new objections your team encounters. Discuss the prevalence of certain issues — if the same objections are common for many customers, a more structured solution may be required. Platforms like Chorus’ Conversation Intelligence, seen below, can be of considerable assistance.

Objections can discourage even an experienced sales rep. More than just being a great sales training idea, objection workshops are a great way to stabilize morale and remind reps that they’re not alone.

7. Buyer’s Exercises #

Given Accenture’s damning statistic that 77% of sales prospects feel misunderstood by their sellers, empathy workshops to get your reps to put themselves in a prospect’s place is an excellent training idea.

Evaluate the buyer’s journey. At each juncture, have each of your reps present three buyer-side concerns that could turn into roadblocks and then come up with solutions. Have your reps role play with one another to practice responses to common objections.

Imagine what product features will appeal to different decision-makers. Encourage each of your reps to write down what they anticipate as being the main concerns from each decision-maker involved in the account (technical officer, sales lead, HR consultant, accountant, C-suite). Then help them forecast answers and compare those predictions with the actual objections that arose.

8. External Expertise #

A sales team with cabin fever is no good — and that goes for your sales leadership as much as for your reps. But bringing in some expertise from outside of your company can have a pronounced effect by invigorating your sales team.

Invite industry leaders to address your team or host workshops to share knowledge and increase motivation. A steady supply of external speakers and trend-oriented presentations can help the team maintain contextual awareness of what’s going on elsewhere in your industry.

Sales Training Ideas You Never Considered #

Producing net-new sales training ideas can be a burden on managers and sales enablement professionals. Keeping your reps engaged and invested in yet another training session can be tough, even with sales training that works.

But here are a few more unorthodox ideas you can use to keep your coaching program fun.

9. Pop Pitches #

You’ll have heard the phrase “give me an elevator pitch of your idea” used all over the SaaS space; it’s almost a punchline by this point. Still, the art of the elevator pitch is not to be taken lightly. Being able to give concise and convincing capsule summaries of what you do is a fundamental skill for a sales rep.

A fun way to test these skills is through the pop pitch. The pop pitch involves unexpectedly calling on a rep during a random social interaction to give an elevator pitch of whatever product they’re in charge of at the time. It combines a fun, informal interaction with an opportunity to get your reps to practice their delivery.

Whoever you’re selling to, product summaries tend to stay fairly constant. Pop pitches can be a great way to keep your team sharp and get them so comfortable with introducing your product that they can do it almost without thinking.

10. Product Quizzes #

While you don’t want to make your sales team feel like children, sometimes a trip back to school can be good for re-engaging jaded reps. Try throwing pop quizzes into your training regime.

Get your team together, come up with a nice incentive to make sure proceedings have plenty of energy, then quiz your team on what they know about your product and your company. It can be trivia-based, or you can go for a more performative approach based on a game like Pictionary. Done right, it’s a neat team-bonding exercise that doubles as a powerful sales training idea.

11. Play ‘I’m the boss’ #

The gamification needn’t stop there. From online versions of Scattergories to tailored games of Monopoly, board games are coming into vogue as a sales training idea. One of the best options, naturally tailored to sales team dynamics, is “I’m the Boss.”

This negotiation and deal-based board game can be a great way to hone your team’s sales acumen and ability to plan ahead to close a deal. The best part? The game doesn’t make them feel like they’re in training. It’s good single sellers or for knitting together sales squads if you tend to pursue the team-selling philosophy.

If you find the board-game method going down especially well, you might even consider designing one of your own tailored to your specific sales methodology. Never underestimate the value of fun in creating a productive environment.

12. Get Out of the Office #

This might seem like the craziest idea of all. So much of SaaS sales occurs remotely; many reps sell to prospects they’re never likely to meet and, in many cases, will walk through the entire sales cycle in the same office. It all sounds a bit cloistered, no?

So, get your team together and get out into the world. The break from the usual environment can be refreshing, and it gives you the chance to include further exercises for sharpening your team’s sales skills. Having your team interact with people in the real world — approaching them with a pretend sales pitch or playing the memento-exchange game — can be an excellent way of humanizing the sales process.

It can also be a great method for overcoming fear of rejection. It’s an excellent sales training idea for any sales reps on your team who are more hesitant when faced with the idea of a difficult, low-patience lead.

Tools to Help You Coach Better #

Leveling up your tech stack to make coaching easier, quicker, and lower-lift might just be the best sales training idea of them all. Think about these solutions when revamping your sales training program.

Inbound sales #

This free online training program from HubSpot is tailored to the latest best practices in inbound selling. The process of acquiring inbound leads can prove challenging even for highly competent business development professionals, and a systematic approach to coaching it can go a long way.

Chorus.ai #

In many cases, the key to a rep’s improvement is in their calls to their prospects. By reviewing calls with Conversation Intelligence, your sales team can identify problem areas with pinpoint accuracy and immediately address them.

It not only makes sales training a breeze, but the gains reps can expect to make from using it are potentially exponential. It can help unearth insights across the entire sales cycle and increase win percentages. For example, reviewing multiple calls uncovers that it takes on average 106 dials for a sales rep to get one scheduled meeting, or that a rep will ask seven to eight questions during a successful discovery meeting.

Get Busy Coaching #

The first principle of coaching is “always be coaching.” Any time your sales department spends resting on their laurels is time when the skills gap between you and your more proactive competitors will widen. SaaS sales involves some of the most complex products and sales cycles of them all. Without a robust training plan, it’s easy to fall behind.

That’s why it’s great to have a solid collection of sales training ideas ever ready in your back pocket. Your reps will savor the variety, and you, as an enablement professional, will have plenty of means to minister to each of your team member’s attributes.

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