7 Ways to Train the Modern Salesperson

Dear ToutApp,

          How do I tackle a growing sales team? I’m trying to plan for the scope of training starting with onboarding and moving through formal group trainings to individual coaching/development. Specifically, I’d love to know:
1. Content/learning goals for sales people
2. Best Practices
3. What ongoing development looks like

          -Sales Manager from a Hustling Startup

Dear SM from a Hustling Startup,

Great Question. In fact, we get asked this a lot as we coach our customers on how to implement our software across their Sales Process. To help get your answer, I pulled together our CEO, VP of Customer Success, Director of Sales Operations, and lastly, one of our top performing Sales Reps. Basically, the Sales powerhouse.

As a growing company, almost doubling in size in the last two months, I figured they would know a thing or two about training new team members.  I pulled them into a room for a whiteboard session.

We’ve come up with 7 things that will help you when training your team and becoming a better salesperson yourself:

1. Follow the Leaders.

This answers your first question around content. Teach your team to tap into the infinite amount of sales resources online. Social selling is very important. Make sure your team is constantly learning new sales tips and knowledge, and then sharing that information with potential customers. It gives them more “sales cred.” Here are five blogs we like to follow:

2. Keep trainings short and precise.

In a study based solely on lectures, it was determined that students (salespeople in this case)  have a 10-18 minute window of prime focus in an hour.  “Then, no matter how good the teacher or how compelling the subject matter — there would come a lapse. In the vernacular, the students would lose it.” Sometimes their attention would come back, “But in ever briefer packets, falling “to three- or four-minute spurts.”

Thus, no matter how compelling your sales hacks are, key points to your training can get lost in translation; even if you segment topics. Our VP of Customer Success, Cliff Cate says, “Think about the demographic of salespeople these days; they can have short attention spans. You need to have training very easy to consume, that’s bite sized, quick, and engaging. Show them a two minute video that shows them how to make a cool template in two minutes or less.”

3. Onboard at separate times.

Daniel Barber, our Director of Sales Operations makes sure new hires always start on a different day. By starting salespeople on different days, they gain more one-on-one attention. It helps with culture by having a personal introduction to the team, and a personal experience with their manager. Even one day or week apart can make a big difference. Also, Daniel says, “Give them the what, why, and how of your company the first hour of the first day. It will set up the training for the entire week.”

4. Create a buddy system.

This creates an open environment to have new salespeople ask as many questions as they need. By working with a “peer,” there’s less intimidation. Meghan “Oops I close Deals” O’Donnell says, “Having a buddy system gave me a go-to person from day one. Create an environment where it’s normal and encouraged to ask for help.”

Also, onboarding at different times creates an automatic buddy system where your newbies get taught by people that started right before them. Odds are, the two-week salesperson has already asked the question that Day 1 Salesperson wants asked. It’ll save time and be a more engaging environment for both salespeople. They’ll learn twice!

5. Sell to your Uber Driver.

No, we’re not joking. Our CEO TK says, “Before you can train a whole bunch of salespeople, you need to sell yourself and know the ins and outs of your business.” He thinks talking to your cab drivers, or any new person you meet, and telling them about your product is the best way you can figure out if you’re doing a good job at selling. Make sure you’re very clear on the right language you want to use, and find out what resonates with people. “Salespeople need to understand the value, why people should care, and what the benefits of your company are. You need to figure this out for yourself first.”

6. Reflect, reflect, reflect.

These days, Salespeople are trained to follow what is on their calendar. Teach your team to book 15 minutes to reflect and find key takeaways from each meeting they have. Whether it’s a group training, or a call they just hopped on. Get in the habit of booking 15 minutes on your calendar after each meeting that will have an important takeaway. They’ll retain the information better!

7. Use your data for ongoing development.

Lastly, ongoing development takes your whole team. Find the things that your top reps are doing and figure out ways to share it with the rest of the team. For example, ToutApp will measure the best performing email templates across your sales team. Once you identify it, you can share it with the whole team and up everyone’s game.

Using data to identify best performing pieces of content, messaging and approaches and sharing it with the rest of your team is a powerful way to drive on-going training.

What else would you like to know about Sales? Ask me here or tweet at me!