Why Follow-Through is the Key to Effective Sales Training

Posted by:
the Attention team

Many people are under the impression that sales skills are learned on the job. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Effective sales training saves time (and money) and ensures that your reps don’t have to learn laboriously from their own mistakes. It is an invaluable aspect of your team’s success, and many sales reps feel that they are not getting enough coaching time. Even when sales teams do devote time to training, they often neglect one essential component: follow through. 

Set Measurable Training Goals

A recent Harvard University study found that setting specific, measurable goals can boost performance by up to 30 percent. The results of your training should never be ambiguous! They should always be defined and tracked using the most precise metrics possible. Sales training can be an art, but it needs to be a science first.

This doesn’t mean just focusing on your team’s outcomes and KPIs. It means setting tangible, process-based goals that will create new skills and habits for success. This could be any of the following: 

  • Trying to shorten the sales cycle 
  • Increasing a rep’s number of daily calls
  • More specific goals like asking more questions on sales calls

Attention uses state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology to track metrics like speech pace and engagement and records progress over time. This enables you to be much more specific and precise with your training goals and gives you access to important metrics that have never been available before. 

Celebrate Progress

The best way to motivate your team and make sure your training sticks is to celebrate your reps’ wins. Positive feedback is almost always more effective than negative. As human beings, we are wired to seek out approval and positive reinforcement and to keep doing the things that garner that approval! This process triggers our dopamine cycle and is one of the strongest motivators out there. Your reps are probably dealing with pressure and negative feedback (hang-ups etc) on a daily basis, so you should do your best to counter-balance this. Give praise frequently and watch your team’s motivation and performance skyrocket.  

Leading a standout sales team means being a cheerleader, not just a general. Celebrating small wins reminds your salespeople that you’re paying attention and that you’re on their side. Be aware of what goals your reps set for themselves or were assigned, and keep track of all the targets they meet, however small.   

This also means making sure your reps feel heard. Listen to their war stories, their frustrations, or the things that didn’t go their way. If they haven't achieved their goal, that's an opportunity to coach them on what needs to happen next. Get into the details of why the outcome didn't meet their expectations. Be sure you share your own stories about challenges you've overcome in your career-- try to relate to your team, especially when they are experiencing setbacks. 

Celebrating is critical because every rep needs to know that they are valued and appreciated. Find new ways to acknowledge your salespeoples’ wins- feel free to get creative! 

Track Coachability 

Coachability is one of the most important traits you need to look for in new hires. A new rep could be totally clueless about sales and do everything wrong at first, but if they are highly coachable, you may have a future star on your hands. Conversely, a rep who is knowledgeable and competent about sales but ‘uncoachable’ and an ineffective learner will hit their ceiling fast.

Coachability can be defined as your responsiveness to training. Is your rep a quick learner? Are they adaptable? Are they self-aware and able to perceive their own shortcomings and modify their behavior? And perhaps most importantly, are they willing and motivated to learn?

Don’t waste valuable coaching time on team members who are not meeting their targets because they are unwilling to improve or change. Instead, lavish time and attention on those reps that show the highest motivation and responsiveness to training, the most coachable ones! 

It doesn’t matter if your coachable reps know nothing about sales and are not getting results yet. If they are able to quickly adapt and meet their process-based training goals, if they are focused on developing an airtight system rather than chasing fleeting outcomes, they are your future stars!

Limited time is a major obstacle to sales training, and managers don’t have the luxury of being able to devote hours to reps who don’t want to get better. Focus on identifying coachable reps and doing your best to bring out their abilities. This will provide a much better ROI and enable you to save precious time in the long run!

You can track coachability easily by seeing which reps consistently meet the training goals they set, and which ones have the most progress over time. These will also be the reps who:

  • Are most curious about how they can progress and get to the next level 
  • They proactively address their own weak points
  • They ask questions during training sessions, but they’re also resourceful and able to figure things out on their own

If you identify a rep who has these traits, hold onto them, whatever their KPI’s look like right now!

Make Sure Coaching Leads to Lasting Behavioral Changes

Lastly, you need to ensure that the progress your trainees make is cemented by the end of training. You know those classes you took in middle or high school and passed all the tests, but you don’t remember a word from them (except for the mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell)? Well, that’s the effect you want to avoid in your training sessions.

The key to making coaching lead to permanent change lies in commitment and follow-ups. Your reps need to commit to reaching training goals and implementing new processes. And you have to hold them to their commitment by regularly following up on these processes in the months after training is over. 

At best, training is long-term habit formation. A great sales organization is built not by focusing exclusively on outcomes but by creating effective habits at all levels and making them stick. You have to make sure to track and record these habits consistently until they become second nature.  

Follow-through is an essential but often neglected component of effective sales training. The first step in making sure follow-through takes place is setting measurable goals that are achievable for both your team and yourself. Next, celebrate progress by recognizing when someone has achieved their goal or met a benchmark (or even exceeded it). Finally, track coachability so you can see whether coaching leads to lasting behavioral change over time. Attention will make it easy to track progress and set concrete, process-based goals to ramp up your reps extremely quickly.

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