Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Build a Better Sales Team with These 5 Training Tips

March 17, 2014

You can help lay the groundwork for success by providing formalized-but-flexible training for new salespeople. Remember that this process never ends.

ImageAs this winter-that-won’t-end starts to wind down, the onset of spring can be energizing for your staff. Their New Year’s resolutions may have gone by the wayside, and they’re almost done fighting the dark or cold or snow or torrential rains of the last two months. They may well be ready for some fresh starts.

If your salesforce has a physical home base that you all share, do some spring cleaning. Get rid of everything that smacks of January and February. Encourage your team to remove clutter from their workspaces — maybe even as a group one slow day. Buy a new coffeepot and bring in some flavored water.

You can also try to shake off the winter doldrums and start fresh by giving your sales team some new tools and motivation. Spend a half-day on training, which is something that should be occurring throughout the year anyway. You could walk them through some mobile apps that might help them with their workflow. Set up some role-plays to get a discussion going about technique. Do a session on self-care, and ask them to evaluate their own work-life balance.

Training the Newbies

These in-service training sessions, of course, should supplement the program you’ve instituted for new salespeople as they join the team. If you’ve never formalized these procedures, pull in a couple of your best salespeople and get feedback about what might have been helpful when they first started, now that they know the pay of the land.

Keep these tips in mind as you’re developing or revisiting your sales orientation, and you won’t have to re-invent the wheel in future training sessions.

  • Let your trainee speak first. What do they want from you in terms of training? Do they know enough about your corporate culture yet to be an effective employee? Let them tell you what blanks need to be filled in. Are there areas of weakness that they’d like to concentrate on? Questions about your products and/or services?
  • ImageMake your sessions interactive. This is important for your ongoing training efforts, but it’s critical when you’re working with new hires. For one thing, back-and-forth helps keep both of you focused and engaged. And while you learned enough about the individual to hire him or her, there’s much you don’t yet know.
  • Support your sessions with written materials. This is time-consuming, but you only have to do it once (not counting periodic revisions). If you’re better at verbal communication than written, ask one of your team who does write well to help (with some extra compensation of some kind, of course). Your trainee won’t have to take notes, an activity that usually results in missing some key information while they’re typing or scribbling.
  • Help them understand that their contribution to the success of the company is unique. Sales teams by nature are competitive, and you certainly don’t want to drive that motivation out of them. But encourage them to shake off the dejection they’ll occasionally feel by focusing on their unique set of personality traits and skills.
  • ImageSet some concrete, challenging-but-realistic performance goals during training. Schedule occasional check-ins during that first six-month period. Let the new salesperson talk about his or her own successes and failures, but ask for feedback on your management and on their other work support systems.

You invest a great deal of time and energy in your new sales team members. Guide them through a successful launch of their new position, and continue your training as needed during their transitional period. You never know who has the potential to be a sales superstar.

Stock images courtesy of


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