Most people don’t have a plan for their sales training. Here are four ways to fix that.

Companies spend over $70 billion on training and an average of $1,459 per salesperson annually. Yet, these trainings are nowhere as effective as leaders would like them to be.
To increase effectiveness, retention, and performance, sales trainers should draw from the best practices of learning and design professionals.
Here are four ways to incorporate better planning into your training:

  1. Understand the purpose of the training and learning objections

Before you start, ask yourself the essential questions about what’s needed. There’s generally something driving the need for the training. It could be that there are new hires and they need to learn the product and process. Or it could be that you’ve rolled out a new product, and you need your reps to learn the new messages. More often than not, the goal of the training is to increase the team’s performance.
Once you’ve identified the purpose of the training, it’s now time to ask yourself what kind of training it will be. To do this, you will need to decide the gap between where the sales reps are today compared to where you want them to be. For example, it could be a knowledge or skill gap. These are the most popular ones. Obviously, training to overcome a knowledge gap is much different from training to overcome a skill gap.
Lastly, in this early phase, you want to clearly state, in two sentences or less, the desired outcome of the training. You should be able to fill in the blank here: “After the end of the training, the reps will be able to  __________________.”
        2. Plan the content and flow of the training
After you’ve decided on the purpose of the training, the gap you want to cover, and the desired outcome, now it’s time to put the content together.
The first step to doing this is to brainstorm the resources that you or your reps may need. Are there worksheets, videos, or templates that you already have, that you can leverage? And if not, does it make sense to build these out?
Are there other people within your organization that might have insights into what else might be needed for the training? It could be your enablement person, your marketing team, or even your reps. Leverage the different stakeholders to start getting buy-in with the training.
You’ll then want to consider the best format for the training. This is very important because the training methods will change depending on if it’s in person, virtual or hybrid. 
Think about your content and how it might be effective depending on the medium. Live role play is often way more engaging in person. On-screen polls are great in a virtual/hybrid environment. Attention span is way shorter online, and trainees get more easily distracted. These are all things to consider when planning the content.
We’ve seen that when you think about these things and try your best to incorporate them into your training design, then your content will be more effective.
A tip that we use regularly is to complete half the training, then share it with other stakeholders to get feedback. This way, you get early feedback before you get too far into the completed program.
        3. Training time
On the training day, always ensure you have the necessary equipment. There’s nothing worse than having a “technical difficulty”.  This could delay the training and put the attendees in the wrong frame of mind.
Before you begin, you’ll want to set the stage. In fact, we recommend sending out at least two notices ten days before the event. This should include the proposed agenda and learning objectives. This is a great way to start getting buy-in.
You’ll always want to think about how you’ll keep the trainees engaged. What questions will you ask? What breakout sessions will you have? What polls might you do? Again, this all depends on the learning gap that you are trying to bridge.
It’s best to take some time beforehand to think about your audience. If you know everyone in the group, you’ll generally have a good idea of the sales reps who will overshadow and have a tendency to take over the meeting, compared to the reps who never talk during group meetings. It’s essential to figure this out if you require engagement from the entire group.
Always optimize for retention. How you present the information and the type of engagement you decide on, should always be optimized to help the reps retain as much of the training material as possible.
         4. Solidify learnings
Speaking of retention, before you show up on the training day, take a few minutes to think about how you will test the effectiveness of your training. In other words, how will you know if your training accomplished what you set out to accomplish? For most people, you might see an increase in sales or an increase in pipeline generated. But those might take a long time to see.
The best way to see how effective the training was, is to test to see whether there’s a change in behavior with the reps. If it’s a knowledge gap that you were trying to fill, you could use a simple quiz. If it’s a skill gap, you could do role plays or “ride along” on sales calls.
We see too much training that has no follow-up. At the end of the day, this is what truly matters; Did the training benefit your team the way you wanted it to, and did you have a way to verify that?
If you are interested in learning more about how to plan an effective sales training session, check out our Free Sales Training Checklist here: Sales Training Checklist

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