How To Develop Sales Training Programs That Work

Companies spend more money in the quest for customers than on any other aspect of their business. A big chunk of that expense is invested in sales, especially the recruitment, compensation, and training of sales people. When hiring a new salesperson, it makes sense to squeeze as much return on investment as possible from sales training. To accomplish this, companies should consider the changing realities of the sales environment. The emergence of social media, at-your-fingertip product and service research and review sites, and the explosion of content-rich, search engine-optimized information marketing campaigns have created a need for new, dynamic sales training techniques.

For today’s newly hired salespeople to develop into tomorrow’s rainmakers, they must obtain the techniques to deal with tomorrow’s buyers. “Customers and prospects have less time and money to spend, are more distracted, and their buying processes have become increasingly complex,” Dave Stein explains. “Salespeople, who have historically been successful depending on ‘right brain’ attributes, such as social networking abilities and highly developed communication skills, are now faced with a sales environment that requires ‘left brain’ solutions – such as following a defined process, structured thinking, and logical problem solving.”



Training becomes substantially more effective when it conforms to these best practices:

  • Sell the benefits of the training. Experienced, successful salespeople may be reticent about participating in training, seeing it as valuable time spent away from potential sales. To overcome this natural tendency, make the content relevant. Demonstrate that the sessions aren’t designed to “change” the sales reps’ style, but to convey information about the company’s marketing and business strategy that will help them tailor their approach to sales, and ultimately sell more.
  • Ask your team what type of training they would most benefit from. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and by asking your team to self-evaluate and to determine what steps in the sales pipeline they could benefit from improving, you will have an automatic buy-in to investing the time on training to obtain those skills.
  • Match training to the market and company strategy. Stress research that explains the characteristics of the company’s best prospects, how they become aware of the product, how their interest is sparked, how they make the buying decision, and how the company’s marketing department addresses each step. Then transition into the tactics, methods, and pitches salespeople can use to leverage this valuable information into their approach to target, connect, pitch and finalize the sale.
  • Approach training longitudinally. Proper training is not a one-time retreat or series of courses. The lessons taught and their strategic significance must be reinforced regularly. Follow up the sessions with written summaries. Solicit feedback, and conduct refreshers and updates when new strategies, tools, or processes are developed. Invite participants to showcase how they have implemented some of the previous lessons, and share the results.

Clearly, for these methods to resonate and become effective, training courses must be tailored for the specific company, and the services or products that are sold. Newly hired sales reps must first understand the company’s strategy and embrace the value of what is being sold in order to master the buying process, empathize with their customers most pressing needs and how their company’s services or products can be the solution to those needs, and then work to tailor and adapt their actions to the selling environment.

Ann Zaslow- Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants, a leader in Executive Search since 1999. Please reach out to ISC for any recruitment needs in the following 5 areas of focus: Sales, Financial Services, Healthcare (non-clinical), Human Resources, & Real Estate Acquisition & Development.

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Kara Onorato is Director of Software Recruiting, and can be reached via e-mail at or direct dial at 877-316-6249.