How Certifications Can Help You Train Your Sales Team
An effective sales team requires consistent, ongoing training. Certification can help.
Sales is a tricky profession. An effective sales representative must be able to follow a repeatable process to be successful. But they must do so without the lead feeling as though they’re being fed a formula. The sales rep must represent the company while also responding to the personal needs of the prospective client. And they have to do all this without making their lead feel unpleasantly pressured or harassed.
Finding one person who can balance those competing demands is tricky enough. Assembling a team of them? It’s possible, but it requires a well-designed training process.
There are two sides of sales training: building knowledge of general sales tools and techniques, and developing an internal process that fits your business model. The first you can source from external sources, or you could combine it with the second to create a more comprehensive training tool.
If it seems excessive to develop your own internal sales certification training program, think again. The resources you put in to training your team will better equip your team to close sales, and will be repeatable with every new hire. And some of the materials you use for your course could even be repurposed elsewhere.
A growing contingent of businesses are finding online certification tools to be an effective and reliable training method for new hires. If you’re thinking of following this process yourself to train your sales team, here’s where to start.
Take them through brand management basics.
Sales reps have a pushy reputation that may not match the impression you want your brand to leave with your clients. Beyond that, as the first point of contact with your potential customers, your sales team has a special opportunity to leave a good first impression. To do that well, they not only need to learn about your business, they also need to learn how to interact with leads whether in person, on the phone, or over the Internet.
Think about beginning your course with a module on customer interaction. Use it to run through sales scripts, build active listening skills, and practice ways to diffuse potentially tense or challenging interactions with leads. Doing so will help your sales team gain confidence when they’re interacting with leads and can help them avoid sounding scripted in conversations.
Train your sales team with your CRM.
These days, there are all kinds of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools available for businesses of almost any size. Some are simple tools to help remind users where there leads are in the buying process and when they should follow-up. Others are complex pieces of software that support dozens of users, allow automated workflows, and offer lead tracking features so that you can know exactly where every contact is on their buyer’s journey.
No matter what you use, some kind of software training will be in order if you want to have an organized, efficient sales team. Many CRMs provide their own certification training, but it may not cover the exact process your company uses to close leads. In that case, you could use the CRM training to compliment your internal training module. Once your new sales member understand the CRM, they can come back to your course to learn how your team puts it to work.
What about a video presentation module?
Traditional sales training programs usually involve practice in the creating and delivery of sales presentations. However, with an online model, your sales team may require a different kind of training. After all, sales are increasingly becoming an online-first job, where representatives often conduct meetings over video chat rather than in person.
E-learning provides a prime opportunity for your sales team to gain that experience during their training course. Instead of relying on traditional presentation methods, arrange a live video call where they deliver a presentation to you—and possibly even the rest of the class—via video chat.
Some people find video presentations more stressful and awkward than delivering in person, when it is easier to gauge the reactions of others in the room. This will help them grow comfortable with that setting. It can also give them an opportunity to practice using screen share features and other video conferencing tools.
Use your certification course as a sales tool with clients.
Inevitably, if you’re developing your own, internal sales tool, some of the graphics and presentations you put together will be about your own business. They’ll cover FAQs and how to respond to them, how to position the benefits of your service, and instructions on how to use it.
Why not turn some of these into marketing resources? After all, your sales training is all about how to present your product to potential clients. A primer on how to respond to FAQs could easily be shared on your website or be developed into a leave-behind for clients. A “top benefits” slide could become an infographic. And it wouldn’t take much to turn instructional material into a how-to guide.
With the resources already developed to train your sales team, you’d save production costs by handing them over to your marketing department as well. And the unified messaging would help bring in better leads for your sales team, too.
Sales training is worth the investment.
Many businesses adopt a “sink or swim” mindset with their employee training. They’re too busy with other projects to make training a priority. Then they’re left wondering why their new hires take so long to catch on.
If you don’t take time to train your sales team before they’re in the field, then their training will happen in front of your potential clients, where it could leave a bad impression and is less likely to close a sale. So long as you’re paying to train your employees on the job, it makes sense to do it properly.
A certification program isn’t overkill. On the contrary, it’s an effective resource that you will be able to use for years to come as your business grows.
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