How to Build a World-Class Sales Training Program on a Budget

Most sales training is terrible. It doesn’t relate to the salespeople, and it’s outdated… if the company has any training material at all.

Back in the day, we used flip charts. Our training (like most US companies) went like this:

Introduction: Don’t stray from the script. This sales presentation is fail proof. Build some rapport, make sure the key decision maker is present, then use this flip chart.

Page 1: Our company was founded in…

Page 2: We are 20 million in sales!

Page 3: (More company history…)

Sure, company background builds credibility, but it’s no longer an effective tool. Why? You’re only talking about yourself. Today, making a sale means relating to clients — building a relationship so they can see how your product meets their needs.

Closing sales requires out-of-the-box thinking. That means it’s time for new sales training ideas to go with the new approaches it takes to sell.

Film REAL Salespeople Talking About REAL Opportunities

Interview your number-one salesperson via video. Then use their insight to teach others. Ask about recent opportunities and success so everyone learns how they’ve earned their spot as the top seller.

Then replicate this each time another sales person climbs to the top. Not only does it build your library, it also builds competition.

Stage Selling Opportunities

Want to pitch to a real client and end up with great sales training material? Hire prospects to play the part of a potential buyer.

Call a key prospect in your marketplace and say, “We’re creating training material for our reps and need to film a sales presentation. I know you’re with XYZ firm and aren’t interested in switching, but I’d like to offer you a $250 gift card if you’d be our client for the mock presentation.”

Sure, this technique may cost you a little, but think about the value of pitching to that prospect. In this scenario, you get a sales opportunity and training material. Even if you don’t need more sales training techniques, it’s a creative way to make a pitch.

Role Play

If you can’t find actual prospects to participate, hire actors or use salespeople for video role play. This works best stranger to stranger, so make sure you don’t use co-workers who know each other.

Provide the “client” with a persona. Give them a name, business details, and pain points.

Then choose a salesperson to make the presentation without knowing the client’s pain points, just like a real sales scenario.

Film their interaction and point out objections, pain points, and strategies for overcoming obstacles during a training.

Sales Program Essentials

You need more than one filmed scenario to fully train your salespeople. So, as you build your material, make sure to include these essentials.

Objections

Every organization has about 8-10 objections. Make sure your salespeople know how to handle each one. How? Ask your top 10-20 sales reps what objections they hear and how they respond to them. Then, either film these interviews or point out the objections in role play clips.

Video

Is video really necessary? Yes! It builds your library and allows people to study the details. I can train and role-play one on one, but a video is much more effective. It lets people study body language and facial expressions — repeatedly.

If you’re on a budget, use Google Hangouts to make the recording simple. All you need is a webcam.

Alternatively, you can make the video on your phone. No need to go hi-tech. Just record on your phone or in Google Hangouts, then put the footage to work.

Create for 2 Hours/Week

Sales managers, if you want to know how to develop a training program for your new hires too, start collecting these videos. It doesn’t have to take up much time. If you set aside two or three hours a week to build sales material, you’ll soon end up with an extensive resource for new hires.

You can use these videos in your hiring process. Require candidates to watch three hours of training material. Then have them “audition” for the sales role. If they don’t put in the work ahead of time, no need to waste your time.

Building a top-notch training program doesn’t require endless funds or time. With this plan, you’ll soon have the training resources you needed to equip your team with skills they’ve been missing!

4 Simple Strategies for Becoming a Better Sales Manager

becoming a better sales manager

No one likes having a manager. People like being a manager – keeping control, checking on everyone – but very few people would choose to be managed.

In sales, we think of managers as the bosses who make sure everyone else is doing their job. They monitor the team, hold others accountable, and deal with problems. But the best managers never need to check in. Why? Because they know what happens in the field without having to ask. They follow the activity of their sales team.

Strong, active salespeople leave a trail of sales and activity in their wake. Sloppy salespeople leave a mess behind them. Either way, a manager knows what’s happened based on CRM data re: calls and appointments.

If the manager ever has to ask a salesperson what they are doing, it means they aren’t doing anything. It’s like they’re sitting in a boat in the water without going anywhere – there’s no wake, no ripples, no activity.

So, if managers already know what’s happening, then their job needs to make a shift. It’s time to stop managing and start directing.

Change Your Title

A sales director benefits the organization much more than a sales manager. These words have the power to produce very different results.

Manager implies “boss”, while director implies “guide.”

Rather than manage, supervise, and evaluate, a director coaches and cues individuals to help them become more successful. Sales directors deploy their resources strategically to get the best results.

Cue Your Team

Most people need direction. Consider movie directors. They give direction to each actor and stagehand so that everyone knows the plan and understands when to do their part. Similarly, in orchestras, directors keep everyone on the same sheet of music and cue players at the right time.

A sales director does the same thing. They give direction to their team to produce the best product. Jack Daly illustrates this in the way he teaches about objections. He knows the best salespeople answer objections the exact same way every time. So he equips his team with successful responses to each main objection. Then they hear objections as a cue for their pre-planned response. Consequently, they overcome those objections more often than not.

Strategize to Reach Potential

Directors also empower their teams in a way that’s best for the organization. They figure out the strategies for working with different businesses. Then they put in the right reps at the right time to close sales. Directors come up with a plan, and then coach their team in how to execute it.

Foster a Coaching Relationship

A sales director also fosters better relationships with the team. When you change the title, you change the team’s perspective of the role. Directors act as more of a coach than a boss. Most people in sales are independent – and sales allows freedom. They want to be their own boss, not feel like someone is measuring their every move. When you act like a director, they’re more likely to see you as someone they can turn to for guidance.

With the mentality of director comes a proactive approach to working with salespeople, as opposed to a reactive management approach that only steps in when there’s a problem. So, if you’ve been spending your time managing a sales team, it’s time to change. Become their director so you can lead both your team and your organization to greater success.

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The #1 Reasons CRMs Fail

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You can almost feel the collective shudder when you mention the words “new CRM” to salespeople. The last thing a salesperson needs is another thing to do! And adding a new CRM often feels like just one more responsibility.

Most people hate trying new CRMs (for good reason) because it gives them another task to think about but doesn’t generate profit. What they don’t realize, is that CallProof isn’t just another CRM. It’s a tool that eliminates some of their responsibilities, letting them focus on what they do best — sell!

Salesperson Buy-In

Managers — it’s time to start selling again. If you want a CRM to work, your salespeople need to use it. So sell it to them.

As you prep your team for CallProof, remember they’ve been through new CRMs before. Most (if not all) have created more work, making their jobs tougher. CallProof simplifies. It generates the reports so your salespeople don’t have to.

Here are three reasons why your salespeople will love CallProof and why it’s worth the learning curve:

1. It gives them more time to sell.

Those reports salespeople hate filing — CallProof takes care of them. Each call and appointment are filed by client and time. Then, when your salespeople need to see a client’s history, it’s at their fingertips. Now they don’t have to waste time filing reports. Instead, they can spend that time meeting new prospects and working with clients.

2. It streamlines their day.

Interrupting sales time to take notes and fill out spreadsheets diverts your salespeople’s attention. Toggling between “sales mode” and “report mode” disrupts their focus and makes them less productive. CallProof works alongside your sales team — automatically logging their appointments and calls. Also, they can voice-record notes on-the-go without ever having to sit down to document.

3. It communicates with you, the manager.

With automated reporting, as a manager you know what’s happening in real time. That eliminates the need for some of your salespeople’s check-ins, freeing them to focus on their daily sales. Then, if you see an area where you can help, you have the info you need to get the right tools in their hands.

Spend time explaining these perks to your sales team. Sure, learning a new process is a little painful in the beginning, but they’ll see a difference quickly. With this CRM, they can sell like they always do. The only thing that changes is that more tasks are automated so they can sell more.

If your salespeople don’t buy in, the CRM won’t work. But with a little time educating them about how much better their jobs will be with CallProof, you can have great reports, they can focus more on selling, and you all can reap the benefits.

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The Sales Manager’s Guide to Working With Millennials

sales manager guide working with millennials

Remember the “Fragile Egg” experiment? Back in Home-Ec class (before the days of automated baby-dolls), students babied an egg for a week. We prepared a shoe box, put tissue in it, and carried a raw egg around hoping no one would bump into us and break it.

Well, that’s what it often feels like to employ a millennial. Delicate. Stepping ever-so-carefully so you don’t “break” them.

Millennial salespeople aren’t always this fragile—everyone is different, of course—but certain issues seem to come up more with this age group. If you want to successfully hire and manage millennial salespeople, here’s your guide to millennials in the workplace.

Challenges to Working With Millennials

My generation grew up with our own struggles and our own challenges. It was the ‘80s. We worked at one job, we didn’t have the internet, and we had to figure out a lot of things on our own. Maybe that’s why millennials can seem hard to manage. We were raised in different worlds. But working together can work if we know how to bridge those differences.

Most of the challenges that come with millennials in the workplace center on the phone. Why? For one, phones bring distractions, and distractions keep people from selling. With incessant buzzing that delivers information, updates, and conversation, it’s difficult to focus on the job at hand.

Start by coaching salespeople who struggle with these distractions. Suggest they cut the problem off at the source by turning off notifications for anything not work-related during the work day. Then, rather than having to resist the temptation to check the chime, they can keep their mind on work.

Millennials also face the challenge of using the phone differently. Their phone use has little to do with talking, and much more with text and emojis. Back in the ‘80s, if you wanted to ask someone out, you called and navigated the nuances of conversation. Now, you swipe left. That being said, millennials may have great potential for phone conversations, but they lack experience. They need you to teach them how to make calls because it’s just not a skill they’ve had to develop.

Top Strategies for Everyday Management

With a predicted 3 out of 4 workers being millennials by 2025, you’ll be hiring one in the not-so-distant future if you haven’t already. And with an average cost of $24K to replace each millennial, you’ll want to make sure you hire the right ones.

Beyond coaching employees in phone use, these three strategies will equip you for navigating your sales manager responsibilities with millennials.

1. Find Their Motivation

Good salespeople want, even need, to prove themselves. When you hire anyone, figure out why they want to work there. Do they want to earn money? If you’re in a performance-driven workplace, that’s who you want to hire. Do they want to be the best? When they see sales stats posted, you want the person who does whatever it takes to be number one.

If you find someone who just wants the flexibility of a sales position, they’re probably not the right fit. 89% of millennials prefer to choose when and where they work rather than working a 9-to-5 job. Make sure the self-directed schedule isn’t the only reason they’ve applied.

2. Encourage a Friendly Culture

Millennials thrive in a relational workplace. They crave the real-world community and a place to belong. So foster a culture of friendship during the workday and after hours. Form a team in a kickball league, or do something else that gets everyone outdoors and active.

In regular operations, change up the sales teams and leaders so people get to know each other. Some companies have Friday lunch together. They all eat together at a certain place and time, and some even cater lunch for the whole office once a month.

Your goal is to facilitate conversations people wouldn’t naturally have. When people (of any generation) feel like they belong to their organization, the benefits abound. They take less time off, they find more motivation, and they stay there longer. It’s really a win for everyone.

3. Balance Criticism With Compliments

Most people don’t enjoy conflict, but it’s particularly avoided by millennials. You’ll inevitably have critiques for your younger employees, so phrase it intentionally and put the criticism in context.  

When I have a new hire, I let them know, “You’ll make lots of mistakes and that’s okay. It’s my job to give you feedback, so you can be the absolute best salesperson.”

Then, when I have criticism, I balance it with compliments. In fact, make the positives outweigh negatives. For every one critique, give seven compliments. This works to soften the blow criticism delivers. It’s not just constructive criticism you want, it’s contextual criticism.

When you hire the right people, shape your office climate, and critique carefully, you’ll help your millennial salespeople find success. Millennials are the most educated generation in American history. And with the right management, they can be a great addition to your sales team.

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Top 4 Ways to Evaluate a Salesperson’s Performance

evaluate salesperson

Evaluating a salesperson’s performance is one of the basic responsibilities of a sales manager. It’s also essential to company success. But how can you do it when sales cycles vary so greatly?

If it takes months to close a sale, do you have to wait until those numbers post to see how your sales team is doing? In short, no. A salesperson’s performance is about more than sales. By tracking these vital signs of sales health, you can measure the success of your team in as little as a week.

The Best Ways to Gauge Success

1. Track Number of Appointments, Calls, and Emails

This is a quick measure of how many connections each salesperson makes day to day. Sales is a numbers game. If you have employees making the calls, sending the emails, and visiting prospects in high volume, their sales will come in high too.

Related: Sales Managers: How To Get Over Micromanaging Your Salespeople

Especially focus on the number of booked appointments. The best sales people use those appointments to get referrals. An increased number of face-to-face meetings almost always indicates a higher potential for success.

2. Qualify Prospects

Salespeople have to quantify booked appointments with qualified prospects. Appointments with people outside the targeted buyer demographic won’t get them far. On paper, they’ll look like they’re doing the job. However, if they aren’t booking the right appointments, they won’t make the sales.

When you’re evaluating their success, consider who the appointments are with. Once you find a value to place on their prospects, you’ll more realistically gauge their performance.

3. Implement a Training Program With an Observer

Set up triangulated sales situations to evaluate your sales team. Create a scenario where the salesperson pitches to a pretend client (played by another salesperson).

Either another salesperson or the sales manager observes the interaction. The client brings up objections and plays hard to get. Then the observer gives feedback about what goes right and wrong during the pitch. This gives you a means of observation and shows salespeople where to improve.

4. Record Sales Calls and Demos

Management needs to record and listen to every sales demonstration and call. Your organization spends good money to book demos, either buying leads or running pay-to-click campaigns. If you’re not intentional, you could have an unqualified salesperson trying to close these hard-earned pitches.

Related: The 4 Biggest Mistakes A Sales Manager Can Make

Listen back to each recording so you can identify the key phases that secure (or kill) sales. As you listen to your sales team, ask yourself, “How do they effectively build rapport? Are they talking to qualified prospects?” In doing so, you’ll separate your top sellers from the ones sabotaging deals.

After You Evaluate a Salesperson

Now that you have the info, use these assessments to boost your sales. Assign point values to the number of calls, face-to-face meetings, quality of prospects, training scenarios, and recorded pitches. Then use those points, combined with actual sales numbers, to rank your salespeople.

Once you know where each member on your team stands, give additional training where it’s needed. If someone’s main struggle is phrasing the pitch, work on semantics. If they’re not booking the right type of prospect, identify key characteristics of the target client.

If a lead comes in tomorrow, who are you going to give it to? The struggling sales rep that doesn’t follow procedure, or the person who considers ROI and follows through? Once you have the data, the choice is obvious.

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How to Create Your Own Sales Training Portal With Podcasts

podcast sales training portal

A growing company creates problems. In sales, your team plays a central role in that growth – and in creating problems. As the business expands, no longer can you, the owner, spend time mentoring each employee. So how do you continue to provide quality training to all employees?  The answer is simple: a custom built sales training portal using podcasts.

I ran into this problem when I started expanding my wireless stores. I wanted to maintain the culture I had worked so hard to create, but couldn’t possibly meet with each sales rep. Enter my solution: A sales training portal. By creating a library of training podcasts, I gave each employee access to the information they needed to be successful in our company. Consequently, this also boosted our success as a whole.

Why Podcasts?

Podcasts are simple. All you need is a phone or computer that records audio, which comes standard on nearly every device. There’s no need for high-end video equipment, backdrops, and editing professionals. You don’t need “fancy” visuals that, in reality, never end up looking as good as you expected. Podcasts get to the point by allowing you to have a “conversation” of sorts with your salespeople.  

RelatedHow To Effectively Train Millennial Salespeople

Podcasts are also consistent. When you’re taking on new hires, you want to make sure they get access to all the information they need. When you train someone face-to-face, you may give a different spiel from one person to the next, or you may leave out an example that would have resonated with the trainee. Worse, you may delegate the training to someone else and they may change the content itself.

Instead, try this: Make a list of everything it takes for a person to be successful. Paint the story of a day in the life of a top salesperson in your company. Organize your topics, jotting down notes of stories you want to tell and examples you want to give. Then, record yourself explaining this “day in the life” piece on your computer. That recording then becomes your first training podcast for employees.

How Can You Use Podcasts in Your Sales Training Portal?

Podcasts give new hires access to your strategies while also giving current salespeople the chance to learn. You may want to make a podcast that talks about objections to the sale. I learned from Jack Daly that most products only have 10 objections. Successful salespeople handle those objections the same with every client.

For your second podcast, sit down with the top 2 sales reps in your company and ask them how they handle the top 10 objections. For example, when a client says the price is too high, how do they reply? Once you capture their responses on an audio file, your sales team can learn how to navigate those obstacles from the best.

As you record, use stories to your advantage. Podcasts aren’t the medium for technical information, but they work well for relationship selling advice. Stories allow you to show how sales theories work in the real world. Once people hear how you applied a strategy, they can better conceptualize how they might use it in their own sales.

Related: How To Hire Salespeople Within Your Budget

For example, your top salespeople recounting their “Top 10 Deals and How They Found Them” could make a great piece. Maybe they share stories of talking to someone at the gym or grocery that ended up in a sale, or maybe a spouse’s friend referred them a client. These examples connect the dots so green employees can see where prospects fit in their world.

When to Listen

The beauty of podcasts is that they live forever. They also can live just about anywhere. Once you save your audio recording like a podcast, your team can listen to it in the car, at the gym, and wherever else they end up in their daily lives. In fact, an ambitious new hire may listen to everything you have before their first day.

To encourage use of the sales training portal, create an email drip for new hires. Gradually feed them these files over their first few weeks to get them in the routine of listening. For general salesperson training, consider giving them a one-hour recording each week. Then, have sales managers give a quiz at the end of the week to hold them accountable.

We all value a “lifelong learner” in the workplace. Why not make that learning so much more accessible? We’re not talking about PowerPoints and conference rooms anymore. We’re dealing with presentations that keep your attention in the middle of rush hour.

Imagine a brand new employee coming into the office with 20 hours of audio training. Think about the culture of a place where people are striving to get better at their jobs even when they’re on the treadmill. That’s what a sales training portal can do for you.

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4 Great Podcast Episodes to Include in Your Onboarding Process

Of course, we won’t leave you without some solid recommendations on podcast episodes you can include in your onboarding. These episodes will teach your new hire a few tricks to set her on the path to success.

The Startup Chat #14: Cold Email

This amazingly actionable podcast hosted by Steli Efti (Founder of Close.io) and Hiten Shah (Founder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg) focuses mostly on startup topics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t glean useful insights from the very experienced hosts. In this episode of the podcast they talk about cold emailing leads and few people are as successful at this as Steli Efti.

Advanced Selling Podcast #321: Networking Tips For Salespeople

The Advanced Selling Podcast hosted by Bryan Neale and Bill Caskey has been going on for over 300 episodes without losing steam. Here’s one great episode on networking and we all could do with more of that – right?

Salesman.red Podcast: When is The Best Time to Close The Sale? With Tibor Shanto

Another excellent podcast stock-full of interviews with interesting guests. Listen to this episode on getting the timing right for closing the sale.

The Sales Evangelist #231: Learn to Use LinkedIn & Sell More

Leveraging your social media presence – and especially LinkedIn – can send your sales soaring. In this episode of the brilliant podcast “The Sales Evangelist” you’ll learn how.

 

How To Effectively Train Millennial Salespeople

Train Millennial Salespeople

Millennials have been the subject of limitless research over the past decade. Are they too entitled or tough to manage? How do we engage them without providing too much structure? Even though they’ll soon become a majority of the work place, the Millennial generation is still a mystery to many managers.

But don’t let this discourage you. Confident Millennials are ready to take on the world, and their assertive attitudes can certainly benefit your company. They require a new type of leadership, but with the right training they’ll quickly become a valuable asset to any sales team.

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Do You Really Have to Train Millennials Differently?

The short answer? Yes.

The traditional training methods don’t work as well with Millennials and the classroom setting doesn’t engage them. Millennials are used to multitasking. Presentations won’t hold their attention for long and when they’re bored a smartphone is the perfect distraction.

Many successful schools seem to have found a solution for this problem: online education. Students learn their own way and at their own pace (which is usually much faster than an hour-long lecture.) The studying and traditional learning is done at home, and the practice and “homework” is now completed at school.

But what does that education model look like for sales teams? Very similar, actually. Millennial salespeople learn on their own at home and perfect their skills when they come to work.

The possibilities are endless for online training materials. Give your salespeople recorded presentations to watch or successful cold calls to listen to. If you have a product-based business, let them study your products on their own.

Then, when they come to work, training consists of practicing their skills and receiving feedback from a sales coach. New salespeople get to use the techniques they’ve seen or heard, and perfect their sales presentation before their first meeting.

Bellhops is a great, and somewhat unique, example of putting this training model to work. After completing an online form, applicants gain access to online training videos before they’ve even spoken with a Bellhops team member.

Use Their Strengths to Your Advantage

According to this Visual.ly infographic, 78% of Millenials are using social media to outsell their peers. And they’re not just using new technologies, they’re twice as fast to adopt them than the rest of the world. So while those smartphones might be distracting during a lengthy presentation, digital tools like Google Drive, Evernote, and of course, Callproof, can help streamline the entire sales process.

You’re also missing a huge opportunity if your sales team isn’t selling on social media — but don’t leave it up to your team to utilize social networks. If your product can be sold via Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, educate your salespeople on how to do it.

A good training platform is critical for every new hire, but especially multitasking, data-driven Millennials. They’re accustomed to digital materials and videos, so incorporate those into your training materials. It might not be traditional, but it’s engaging and effective.

And don’t overlook an important statistic from that Visual.ly infographic: the amount of commitment a Millennial will show to your company. They’ll live and breathe your product, so take advantage of that dedication and train them to sell.