Sales Training is Not Enough!

Written by Alice Heiman

As business owners, we all want to increase our sales.  One effective way to boost numbers is by brushing up on our sales skills, and we know that means obtaining sales training for ourselves and our teams.  Sales training is great; it’s a crucial refresher that reminds us to be more consistent in our activities. Not only does training recharge our old skills while we learn new ones, it can be extremely motivating for future endeavors.  But what happens after the training? How much do you and your sales team retain? Does the training provide the impetus for real behavior change?

After the Training

“The training was great!”

Yes, it was, but will it make an impact on sales? I’ve been in the sales training business a since 1994; I’ve seen companies spend an enormous amount of money on training only to have everyone go back to business-as-usual the next week.  Of course some of them incorporated a few things they learned but on the whole overall behavior didn’t change and there was no lasting effect.

Our brains only have the capacity to take in so much new information at one time. So no one leaves a training of any kind with 100 % of what was taught. Our capacity to learn can be a limiting factor of any training. Another limiting factor is assimilating that new information and using it to change our behavior. Most of us are reluctant to change, unless we see a need or are forced to change. So even when we learn new information, we may not use it.  If we do want to change our behavior, it may require practice.

A Great Example

I ran a training on handling objections for a client of mine.  Their close ratio was only about 20%.  It seemed to be the price but it wasn’t. They were losing deals because prospects didn’t understand the features, so they didn’t see the value for the price. During the training I taught the salespeople to ask more questions and to understand what features the prospect was most interested in before educating them and trying to close.  We also discussed helping the prospect understand their return on investment. We role-played a bit during the training and thought they were ready to go out and try the new sales process.  Sadly, things did not change the way we thought they would.  What we discovered was the team didn’t have enough practice, so under pressure they reverted back to their previous behavior that held the low close ratio.  More practice was needed but with everyone back in the field the question was, how do we give them the practice needed.  

Incorporating practice

It’s tough to incorporate enough practice and each salesperson will learn at their own pace. The fact is, the practice has to continue until the behavior has changed. That could take a few weeks or a few months. Salespeople need a safe place to practice and then to try what they practice in the field, with guidance. This takes a lot of coaching from the sales manager or peer mentors, but it is imperative.

Enter Rehearsal

To solve the problem I found a platform that makes this all much easier.  It’s called Rehearsal VRP. I implemented it with the sales team I mentioned above and the results improved dramatically.

It is absolutely an outstanding tool for providing ongoing practice for any type of training, but of course, I use it for sales training. I still do role-play during a training but now I incorporate practice on Rehearsal VRP for reinforcement long after I am gone.  I build the scenarios on the platform and they are there for my clients to use, forever.  The platform is easy to use and a sales manager can record a new role-play any time a new sales issue comes up.  Here are just ways my clients are using it; product launches, product training, handling objections, sales call planning and practicing presentations.

Improve Results

Practice with feedback improves results. There is no doubt about it. Having the ability to have salespeople practice and give them feedback asynchronously is a game changer.  What are you doing to improve the performance of your sales team?

About the Author

Alice Heiman

Alice is a nationally recognized sales expert. She’s made numerous guest appearances on television and radio broadcasts, in addition to being featured in print publications, including Entrepreneur’s Startups and Selling Power magazines. Over the course of her two decades of teaching others the fine art of selling, she’s earned a host of awards. Saleswoman of the Year, Marketer of the Year, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Blue Ribbon Award are a few of the acknowledgements adorning her office walls.