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8 Sales Training Ideas to Take Your Team to the Next Level

Thursday December 28, 2023

Female sales professional giving a sales presentation to her team, responding to a salesperson with their hand raised

Leaders across the world recognize the importance of sales training. Globally, companies spent an estimated $380 billion on learning and development programs in 2023.

If you’re among those hoping to expand your sales training and take your team’s productivity and efficiency to the next level, it’s important to make sure you’re maximizing the effectiveness of your training.

Here’s an overview of why training is so important for sales teams, as well as eight innovative sales training ideas that can take your team to the next level.

The Importance of Sales Training

On-the job training is important, and should be done on a regular basis.

Sales training is intended to boost your team’s skill set. If successful, it’ll benefit both your company and individual employees.

It’s important to build both soft and hard skills, as both are necessary.

  • Hard skills training: Hard skills are role-specific and pertain to each employee’s responsibilities. They typically require much more individual coaching, mentoring, and on-the-job training.
  • Soft skills training: Soft skills aren’t role-specific, but can be transferred across positions and industries, making them excellent for career development. For sales teams, these skills help them interact with customers on a more personal level.

While hard skills are important, soft skills are critical to helping salespeople close deals, since they need to know how to connect with customers.

8 Sales Team Training Ideas

While a majority of training involves hard skills that are necessary to complete your job, most of this should be conducted on-the-job, since it requires a much more individualized approach.

 

When it comes to intentionally training your sales team, Harvard Business Review (HBR) advises that approximately 20% of training time should be spent doing social learning, such as team building.

Here are eight tips to help you train your sales team more effectively, each of which is accompanied by a Teamraderie experience you can use to help achieve your desired outcomes. Our experiences are live, virtual workshops with various experts facilitating them—such as professors, thought-leaders, Olympians, and more.

1. Learn How to Effectively Leverage Technology

McKinsey reports that sales teams that outperform others are approximately 62% more effective at leveraging digital technology and tools. Cultivating this skill is an excellent way to ensure that your sales team improves their performance.

The first step is to examine the existing technology your team leverages and ensure that your sales team is proficient at utilizing it. For example, if your team uses a CRM or data analysis tool, make sure your team knows how to maximize its potential.

As technology continues to evolve, however, consider ways that your sales team can leverage it to be more effective at their jobs. For example, with the continuous advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), there are ample opportunities for improvement and growth.

HBR reports that salespeople can use AI to help significantly improve customer relationships. This requires thoughtful application of the technology, however.

Our virtual generative AI experience is an excellent way to maximize AI’s potential in your team. In this experience, professor and AI thought leader Paul Leonardi will help your team brainstorm ways to maximize AI in your organization using the STEP framework he developed.

2. Improve Team Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills to develop in any profession. Sales isn’t an exception. Not only is it important to learn how to communicate effectively with customers, but also with other team members.

Internally, improved communication can accomplish the following:

  • Improved feelings of camaraderie and connection: Building relationships with colleagues and learning how to communicate with them is vital in sales. It allows you to share strategies, build upon one another’s strengths, and learn from each other’s successes and failures.
  • Fewer instances of conflict and misunderstanding: Salespeople can waste valuable time and energy due to unnecessary misunderstandings. For instance, when dealing with prospects or customers, they might rely on unspoken rules, leading to avoidable conflicts like one salesperson monopolizing customer interactions.
  • Improved cross-team collaboration: Learning to communicate more effectively can help your ability to collaborate with other departments such as marketing.

Training your salespeople to communicate better with one another is an excellent way to accomplish these—and other—objectives.

Our LEGO communication experience can help your team build communication while building LEGO sets. Your team members will be given part of the instructions, and will have to collaborate with one another to complete the kit. It’s a great way to build communication and have fun along the way.

3. Boost Your Collaboration Skills

According to HBR, collaboration is one of the top skills salespeople need. The buyer’s journey often touches multiple departments, and even various members of the sales team.

As the customer progresses through the funnel and approaches the decision stage, collaboration with other team members is key to providing a seamless experience from start to finish.

Related: How To Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams

During your next sales training event, consider our NASCAR experience, which is designed to build collaboration skills among your team. In this Teamraderie experience, NASCAR’s first pit crew coach, Andy Papathanassiou, leads your team through a virtual workshop to work together as a team in pursuit of a common goal.

4. Learn to Set Better Goals

In addition to quotas that are set by leadership, individual goal-setting is important for salespeople.

When creating these personal objectives, however, it’s crucial to set goals that are both ambitious and realistic. Setting goals that are easily attainable without much effort won’t allow you to push yourself and improve, whereas setting goals that are overly ambitious can result in over-promising and under-delivering.

If you’re hoping to improve your team’s goal-setting capabilities, teaching them to set better goals for themselves is a great way to use your training time.

Our goal-setting for productivity experience can help your team learn how to be ambitious with their goals, while still meeting them. This experience is led by decorated Paralympic athlete, Tatyana McFadden, and can help boost your team’s energy and motivation while improving their skills.

5. Learn New Ways to Solve Problems

In every industry, there’s a need to solve problems as they arise. Salespeople often encounter difficult objections, or challenges that are difficult to solve.

For example:

  • What should you do if you’re pitching to a prospective customer who’s an excellent fit, but an unhappy former customer has advised them to avoid doing business with you?
  • What if you’re dealing with a prospect who’s content with their existing solution that’s inefficient, but cost-effective?
  • How should you respond if the customer starts to get angry or aggressive?

Training for specific challenges is important, but obstacles often arise that are impossible to predict. These problems require innovative solutions.

In our Design Thinking experience, Professor Anja Svetina Nabergoj of Stanford’s d.design school, will teach your team a framework for igniting innovation. This experience is an excellent option for training your team valuable soft skills that will benefit them and the company alike.

6. Build Team Empathy and Listening

As anyone in sales will tell you, sales is about much more than simply reading a script and expecting the customer to immediately give you their business.

You can give the best pitch in the world, but if the customer isn’t the right fit, it won’t make a difference. Worse—you might end up selling to someone who spreads negative word of mouth because your solution, while costing them money, didn’t solve the problem or made it worse.

For this reason, one of the most important skills in sales is empathy.

According to Gallup, customers need to know you’re not just trying to make money off of them. They must feel cared for, and that you understand their needs and that your solution is the right one for them. In other words, you need to treat customers like people.

For this, you need to know and understand:

  • What are the prospect’s current pain points?
  • How does your solution help them address their individual needs?
  • Is your solution actually a good fit for them?
  • Are they engaged and genuinely interested?

For this reason, training your team to become more empathetic and better at active listening is a great use of your time.

Our empathy and listening skills experience can help your team connect while deepening their ability to understand customers, as well as one another. This experience is led by Pam McLeod, former director of education and outreach and manager of diversity and inclusion for the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center at Stanford University, who will help your team become more empathetic through interactive improv games.

7. Learn How To Adapt

Flexibility and adaptation is another skill that, according to HBR, is one of the most important for salespeople. Unexpected circumstances can easily throw your team off track if they’re unprepared to adapt quickly.

In addition to adapting to day-to-day challenges, salespeople need to effectively respond to broader changes within the sales landscape. For example, while sales has traditionally been conducted according to a quarterly plan, HBR reports that a more agile approach is becoming commonplace.

Because it’s impossible to predict every challenge your team will face, training efforts that attempt to prepare your team for every possible scenario aren’t going to be effective. Our agility and teamwork experience is intended to help your team prepare for anything, rather than everything. Led by Olympic Gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner, this workshop will help your team adopt a flexible learning mindset.

8. Host a Sales Kickoff Event

Sales kickoffs (SKOs) are excellent opportunities to train your sales team. These events, whether held in-person or virtually, can help your team connect and learn more about both the business and each other.

SKOs are gatherings—typically held at the beginning of a new sales year—that bring your team together for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Celebration: Awarding top performers and recognizing achievements
  • Connection: Fostering trust and inclusion through team-building and shared activities
  • Training: Developing new skills or deepening existing ones
  • Learning: Hearing from experts or company leaders in order to learn more about the industry or company
  • Motivation: Helping employees start the new year on a positive note and renewing their energy and focus

If you’re hoping to take your team’s performance to the next level, a properly planned and executed SKO is an excellent way to accomplish this. Approximately 60% of salespeople want soft skills training during their SKO, so it’s a great opportunity to help your team expand their skills.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Sales Kickoff

Make Your Next Sales Training Event Memorable

Whether you’re planning your next SKO, or simply searching for innovative ways to train your team, Teamraderie’s list of experiences are perfect for making the most of your social learning time.

If you’re interested in learning more about Teamraderie, consider checking out our experiences using the experience finder—or interacting with our chatbot TeamraderieGPT to find an experience that perfectly fits your needs

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