Consistently top-performing sales teams have one thing in common: a commitment to continuous skills development through impactful training. In this comprehensive guide, we explore 37 interactive sales training ideas, exercises, and activities to keep your team operating at peak levels in today’s disrupted selling environment. You’ll learn concrete strategies to align training with business goals, motivate participation, facilitate memorable workshops, track progress, and ultimately translate learned skills into increased revenue. From creative roleplays to digital courses and everything between, it’s time to reignite your team’s potential with the latest sales training techniques. After reading, your organization will be equipped with tangible approaches for leveraging learning as a competitive advantage. The path to mastery starts with the first step, so let’s get started!
Why Ongoing Sales Training is Crucial for Success
The sales landscape is constantly evolving with new technologies, strategies, and consumer behaviors reshaping how deals are won and lost. To stay competitive in this dynamic environment, sales teams must make continuous skills development a top priority. Ongoing sales training is crucial for success for several key reasons:
Keep Up With Evolving Sales Trends and Tactics
What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow in sales. Just consider how social selling, account-based marketing, and sales enablement technology have disrupted traditional sales models in recent years. Without regular training, teams risk falling behind as both prospects and competitors adopt new approaches.
According to LinkedIn’s 2022 State of Sales report, over 75% of sales professionals consider learning new sales methodologies extremely or very important. Yet only 34% are completely satisfied with the training they receive. This gap highlights the need for more impactful ongoing training initiatives.
Specific areas where regular training is essential include:
- Virtual selling skills – With remote work growing, sales teams need training on effective virtual demos, presentations, relationship building, and more. Cisco’s annual tech trends report found that nearly 60% of organizations are updating their training for the hybrid work environment.
- Social selling techniques – Buyers increasingly expect sellers to engage with them across multiple digital channels including LinkedIn, Twitter, Clubhouse, and more. Social selling training ensures reps stay aligned with evolving buyer expectations.
- Sales technology platforms – With new sales tech tools emerging constantly, training is required to realize their benefits. Whether it’s improving usage of CRM or adopting AI-driven capabilities, mastering the latest technologies is now a core sales competency.
Regular training on trends allows teams to capitalize on new opportunities while mitigating potential risks of relying on dated tactics.
Improve Skills to Increase Win Rates
Beyond trends, individual skills development through ongoing training is fundamental for improving sales results. According to CSO Insights research, sales teams completing at least 5 days of training annually see win rates improve by over 15%.
Key areas where developing seller skills impacts performance include:
- Questioning techniques – Asking the right questions is pivotal for understanding needs and positioning solutions. Roleplay exercises help sharpen this critical skill.
- Active listening – Salespeople spend too much time pitching before fulling grasping pain points. Listening training focuses on being fully present and picking up cues during discovery.
- Objection handling – A study by Hull found that 88% of deals include some objections. Training to confidently navigate concerns is invaluable.
- Storytelling – Stories build rapport and boost credibility. Workshops that teach story frameworks empower more compelling pitches.
- Negotiation – Closing deals at ideal terms requires nuanced negotiation abilities. Practicing scenarios sharpens this specialized expertise.
- Virtual communication – With remote interactions now commonplace, new protocols are required to build connections through screens. Dedicated virtual relationship training pays dividends.
Improving any of these core skills directly translates to sales teams winning more and losing less. An ongoing program allows individual reps to build on strengths while closing personal skill gaps identified over time.
Boost Motivation and Morale
Beyond hard skills, ongoing sales training serves a valuable purpose in engaging and inspiring team members in their roles. A study by MRINetwork revealed that a majority of employees view training as an incentive and motivator.
Strategies to boost motivation include:
- Career development focus – Training perceived as a pathway for professional growth and promotion keeps reps driven to participate and apply learnings.
- Bonding and connections – Leveraging training to bring teams together fosters camaraderie and a unified culture beyond daily pressures.
- Fresh perspectives – New instructors, frameworks, and ideas maintain excitement levels and prevent stagnation from dated approaches.
- Reinforcing purpose – Aligning training topics with core values and mission keeps meaning and passion high within teams.
- Game mechanics – Points, leaderboards, completion tracking injects healthy competition and fun into the training process.
- Manager involvement – Active participation from sales leaders inspires engagement and signals training is a shared priority, not just a box to check.
With turnover rates in sales often exceeding 30% annually, motivation is a key lever for attraction and retention. An ongoing training approach demonstrates a tangible commitment to sellers’ success and growth.
In summary, continuous skills development through regular sales training is mission critical on multiple fronts. It allows teams to stay ahead of the curve on evolving buyer expectations, win more deals through sharpened skills, and retain top talent by fostering growth mindsets. To thrive in the competitive sales arena, training must be ingrained as a core element of team culture rather than treated as an occasional event.
Types of Sales Training Programs and Resources
With the sales landscape evolving rapidly, sellers need versatile options to continuously develop their skills. There is no one-size-fits-all approach – the ideal mix of sales training resources depends on your team’s maturity, strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences.
By leveraging different program types and delivery methods, you can create a well-rounded curriculum that aligns to your specific development goals. Here are the main categories of sales training resources to consider:
Virtual Sales Training Courses
Online sales training courses allow reps to improve skills on their schedule, without the need for travel. The rise of virtual instructor-led programs via video conferencing provides interactive elements such as discussions, roleplays, and real-time feedback.
Popular options for online sales training include:
- Close Sales Academy – Close.com offers a free 6-hour course on prospecting fundamentals including ideal customer profiles, outreach, and pipeline management. Reps learn directly from company experts.
- Sandler Microlearning Collection – For just $197, gain access to 100+ online lessons totaling 18+ hours on topics like negotiation, referral selling, social selling, and more.
- Action Selling Certification – Become a certified Action Selling professional through this self-paced eLearning module with videos, assessments, and downloads.
- Virtual Selling Course from Dale Carnegie – Two-hour weekly sessions over 8 weeks equip reps with skills to engage and sell remotely.
- Online Sales Fundamentals Course from Pareto Law – This introductory 1-day online course covers prospecting, objections, meetings, negotiation, and presenting.
The benefits of virtual sales training include lower costs, flexibility, scalability, and the ability to practice skills from anywhere. recordings also allow reps to revisit sessions.
In-Person Workshops and Seminars
For deeper hands-on skill building, in-person sales workshops and seminars facilitate peer collaboration, live roleplaying, and group discussions. The energy and full focus a live session provides can accelerate behavior change.
Some top in-person sales training providers include:
- Sandler Sales Certification – Through roleplays with 250+ training centers globally, Sandler’s multi-level certification process builds consultative selling skills over 12-24 months.
- Dale Carnegie Sales Training – From the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People comes this 2-3 day relationship selling course to create customer-centric sales teams.
- Janek Performance Group Workshops – Public and private 1-day sales workshops available in major cities across categories like prospecting, negotiation, presenting, coaching.
- Huthwaite SPIN Selling Programs – After globally training over 250,000 people in SPIN, Huthwaite provides customized onsite workshops on this structured sales methodology.
- Miller Heiman Group Workshops – From the creators of Conceptual Selling and the Strategic Selling methodologies, Miller Heiman Group provides onsite sales training reinforcement workshops.
Though in-person delivery generally costs more, the hands-on experiential approach often yields better engagement, retention, and on-the-job application.
Free Online Sales Training Content
For sales teams on a tight budget, free online sales training content can fill foundational knowledge gaps and keep skills sharp. While not as comprehensive as paid programs, these free options nicely supplement a broader learning plan:
- Close.com Resources – Download free sales templates, playbooks, email scripts, and more curated by Close’s team of sales experts.
- LinkedIn Learning Sales Courses – Select a learning path like social selling, soft sales skills or business development basics via LinkedIn’s extensive on-demand course library.
- Sales Gravy YouTube Channel – Sales authority Jeb Blount shares free sales training videos on prospecting, presenting, leadership, mindset, and more.
- Rain Group Sales Webinars – Complimentary monthly webinars from a leading sales training company on topics like negotiation, coaching, and enabling sales teams.
- SaaStr Sales Content – Leading SaaS community offers an extensive collection of free sales articles, guides, templates, and more.
While free resources have obvious appeal, be wary about quality control and outdated perspectives. Always balance no-cost content with paid solutions to address key skill gaps.
Interactive Online Sales Training Programs
For structured live instruction in a virtual setting, interactive online sales training delivers real-time practice and feedback. From quick workshops to multi-week bootcamps, options include:
- Challenger Activation Program – This 3-day virtual course builds core Challenger commercial teaching skills through scenarios, exercises, and live coaching.
- Turpin Start the Deal Workshop – In this 2 x 90 minute live online series, sales teams polish creating interest, beating the status quo, and sparking action.
- Asher Strategies Close Deals Faster – Just $750 for this succinct 2-hour online sales seminar to help reps shorten their sales cycle and close more deals.
- VEN Greso: Selling With Video Virtual Bootcamp – An intensive 8-week remote digital selling training program tailored to sales teams suddenly working from home.
- JBarrows OnDemand Sales Training – Billed as the Netflix of sales training, this subscription video portal has unlimited access to hundreds of on-demand training videos.
The virtual instructor interaction during live online sales training drives better completion rates compared to entirely self-paced options.
Sales Methodology Blogs and Podcasts
To stay on top of the latest trends and tactics, sales methodology blogs and podcasts are free, on-demand, and mobile-friendly. Consumption should be integrated into weekly learning routines.
Top sales podcast picks:
- Close.com Podcast – The Revenue Acceleration Show features candid talks on closing deals, outbound sales, and startup growth.
- The Modern Selling Podcast – Mario Martinez interviews thought leaders across sales, leadership, and innovation topics.
- Sandler Selling The Sandler Way – Sales training insights are shared leveraging research data in these bite-sized Sandler podcast episodes.
- Secrets of Sandler Podcast – For a deep dive on the Sandler selling system and training methodology straight from program architects.
Leading sales blogs:
- Close.com Blog – 1,000+ articles on sales topics including prospecting, presenting, objections, and leadership.
- SalesHacker Blog – 2,000+ posts from the SalesHacker community on sales acceleration strategies and tactics.
- The Sales Blog by Anthony Iannarino – With over 4,000 articles, Iannarino provides daily sales coaching and insights.
Podcasts and blogs make experts accessible during commutes or small pockets of free time. Curate a personalized reading/listening list for your team.
Sales Training Books
While less popular given shorter attention spans, sales training books remain a viable self-education channel, particularly for foundational methodology instruction. Consider assigning:
- SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham – The bible for methodical sales question asking to navigate the complex B2B decision process.
- The Challenger Sale by Dixon and Adamson – Research on the counterintuitive Challenger approach of teaching before pitching.
- The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge – A data-driven framework for driving predictable and repeatable sales growth.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – The classic relationship building book underpinning Carnegie’s training.
- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss – An ex-FBI hostage negotiators guide to tactics for sales negotiation scenarios.
The appeal of books for sales training is the ability to highlight and take notes to fully absorb and retain insights. Don’t underestimate their impact.
In summary, a blended approach combining multiple sales training program types will serve teams best in the long run. Virtual courses, in-person workshops, blogs, books and more each play a role in strengthening different competencies. Treat sales training as an always-on capability, not a one-and-done event, for success.
Interactive Sales Training Ideas and Exercises
Beyond passive content consumption, interactive sales training delivers higher engagement, retention, and on-the-job impact. Exercises that stimulate discussion, reinforce key concepts, and simulate real-world scenarios accelerate skill development.
By infusing interactivity into training initiatives, managers can expect improved completion rates, more energetic participation, and stronger application of skills learned.
Decision Making and Negotiation Simulations
Every deal involves judgment calls and trade-off analyses by both the buyer and seller. Simulated scenarios build sales teams’ decision-making muscles in navigating this constant tension.
Examples of interactive decision-making exercises include:
- Budget allocation analysis – Give each rep a hypothetical budget sheet for a fictional company. Have them role play presenting a solution to the fictional buyer and attempt to maximize the deal value based on the budget constraints perceived.
- Competitor pricing scenarios – Present reps with a competitor’s lower bid for a project and have them collaboratively decide whether (and how) to match or counter the pricing in a mock negotiation.
- Objection prioritization – When confronted with multiple buyer objections, have reps debate how to prioritize addressing each objection and the risks involved.
- Virtual breakout rooms – Split reps into small virtual groups, assign a complex selling scenario, and have them determine the ideal strategy for winning the deal profitably.
Equipping salespeople with repetition in working through ambiguous, multi-variable situations develops their judgment and ability to think on their feet during pressure-packed sales conversations.
Mock Prospecting and Cold Calling Drills
Among the most intimidating but foundational sales skills is initiating conversations with total strangers. Highly-realistic prospecting roleplay scenarios help reps overcome cold outreach fears and perfect their approach.
Examples of cold calling practice sessions include:
- Gatekeeper deflection – Have reps take turns leaving voicemails or navigating receptionist objections played by managers in a round robin format.
- Improv pitching – Spotlight different products/services and have each rep improvise a cold pitch they would use to spark interest.
- Blitz day – Set a goal for the team to roleplay 100 cold calls in a single day with peers acting as prospects and providing real-time feedback.
- Record and review – Using call recording software, have reps conduct mock cold calls with peers that are recorded, and then review as a group to identify improvements.
- Creativity contests – Run competitions for the most unique or compelling ice-breaker, subject line, or LinkedIn outreach message to incentivize innovation.
Prospecting requires resilience and a short memory. Frequent roleplay inoculates reps from rejection and normalizes outreach.
Pitch Makeovers and Presentation Workshops
Even veteran sellers need critical feedback to refine their sales pitches and presentations. Workshops focused on overhauling these mission-critical messages reinvigorate experienced reps.
Examples of sales pitch and presentation training sessions:
- Video review – Have reps record practice pitches and review recordings as a peer group to identify areas for improvement via observations and constructive criticism.
- Unique angles workshop – Split the team and challenge each group to craft a novel pitch for an existing product focused on a differentiated use case or persona.
- Manager mock calls – Schedule a 1:1 roleplay between each rep and a sales manager playing the part of a skeptical prospect to experience their pitch approach first-hand.
- Rep flip coaching – After peer 1 delivers their pitch, have peer 2 explain it back and offer advice as if they were coaching rep 1 to gain new coaching lens.
- Hook brainstorm – As a team, rapid-fire brainstorm opening hooks, stories, or questions to create curiosity and stand out quickly on sales calls.
Collaborative selling message workshops produce breakthroughs unavailable through solo refinement. Maximize this power.
Team Role Playing for Objection Handling
According to CSO Insights, over half of forecasted deals do not actually close primarily due to ineffective treatment of prospect objections.
Role playing real-world objections repeatedly builds muscle memory for sales teams to confidently navigate concerns. Examples include:
- Common objections list – As a team, build a list of the most frequent objections faced. Then run through various responses and approaches to addressing each objection.
- Objection improv – Spotlight an objection randomly and have a rep think on their feet to respond persuasively (a peer can raise additional concerns to increase realism).
- Manager rebuttals – Assign managers to pose as prospects and level stern objections for reps to gain experience responding to authority figures.
- Good, bad, ugly recordings – Have reps record objection handling attempts, picking one good, one bad, and one ugly example to review as a team and identify differences.
- Objection hierarchies – For complex products/services, map out typical sales objections into hierarchies or sequences and practice navigating each phase as a linear conversation.
The ease and frequency with which prospects say “no” necessitates purposefully developing the resilience of sales teams when faced with rejection.
Selling Scenario Analysis and Strategizing
In addition to objection readiness, sales teams need training for business scenario analysis to tailor approaches based on deal contexts. Breaking into small groups to strategize around selling situations yields valuable collaboration.
Examples of scenario strategies exercises:
- Account profiling – Develop hypothetical buyer persona profiles complete with company, role, pains, and goals. Groups then devise an ideal strategic approach for selling to the persona profile.
- Competitor comparisons – Assign competitors and have teams debate the strengths/weaknesses of their value proposition versus #1 rival and brainstorm counter selling arguments.
- Commission dilemma – Present complex commission vs. discounting scenarios and have reps determine the right balance between their own take-home pay and company margin impact.
- Ethics debates – Pose an ethical dilemma during a fictional deal and have reps wrestle with how to address in a way that builds trust and meets company standards.
By thinking through nuanced situations together, sales teams discover insights unavailable to individual reps operating in a vacuum.
Relationship Building and Networking Exercises
Sales remains a people-first business, making training to build authentic connections crucial. Exercises that flex reps’ interpersonal muscles are time well spent.
Examples of sales team relationship exercises:
- Improv activities – Fun games like “question tennis” build rapport, listening skills, and conversational agility useful in sales calls.
- Team introductions – Have reps pair up with someone they know less well and introduce them to the team focusing on surprising interesting facts versus basic background.
- Networking contests – Host mock networking events and reward reps for gathering impactful personal details within conversations.
- Charades/Pictionary – Quick teambuilding games with a sales twist like acting out common objections or illustrating competitors.
- Story sharing – Have reps take turns recounting impactful experiences in their lives and how it shaped their perspective.
Though often overlooked, virtual relationship building activities sow trust between team members that translates into more united front during customer interactions.
Product Knowledge Demos and Testing
Even the most seasoned sales reps need ongoing training as products evolve across releases. Hands-on sessions ensure message alignment.
Examples of product knowledge training activities include:
- Sales manager demos – Have managers deliver new product demos to reps so they experience messaging as buyers would.
- Reverse demo roleplay – Assign reps to deliver a demo to managers as if they were a new user to gain insights on gaps in messaging.
- Demo doctor sessions – Film live demos and review as a group to dissect areas of improvement on distilling complexity into simplicity.
- Tech support team Q&A – Invite product experts to an open Q&A session for reps to clarify technical aspects that trip them up in demos.
- Virtual demo tests – Assess reps’ mastery of latest features by assigning them to demo a specific capability via video conference to managers and peers.
Ongoing exposure to demos and technical knowledge boosts message retention and confidence communicating intricate details.
Digital Selling and Social Media Training
With buyers increasingly self-educating online, sales teams need digital selling and social media training to sharpen online engagement skills.
Examples of digital selling training modules include:
- Hashtag strategy workshops – Break the team into groups and brainstorm how hashtag themes could attract targeted personas on various platforms.
- Online demo feedback – Have reps record a product demo video, post online, and collect feedback from managers on areas to refine.
- Social listening contests – Challenge reps to find the most valuable insights on assigned accounts from Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social platforms.
- Anonymous account roleplay – Have reps anonymously engage fellow team members acting as prospects via social media channels to practice social selling in a safe environment.
- Webinar practice – Record dry run webinars as a team activity and allow peers to provide live input on delivery skills and audience engagement tactics.
With 72% of sales teams now using social media, training ensures reps develop expertise versus simply dabbling across digital channels.
In summary, supplementing traditional sales training with immersive interactive elements improves retention while accelerating skill development. Adult learning principles emphasize that engagement, repetition, and real-world application are critical for behavior change. Exercises provide sales teams actionable methods to gain these benefits over passive content delivery.
Effective Sales Workshop and Meeting Concepts
Sales meetings and workshops present valuable opportunities for teams to learn collectively, strengthen relationships, and plan strategically beyond daily pressures. By incorporating certain engaging elements and formats, managers can maximize the impact of these gatherings.
Sales Bootcamps and Intensive Retreats
For significant new hire onboarding or cross-training on new methodologies, conducting multi-day sales bootcamps delivers immersive learning through roleplay, drills, competitions, and camaraderie building.
Examples of potential bootcamp components include:
- Skills simulations – Intense skills practice is woven throughout days via customized roleplay scenarios with peer feedback.
- Product campfires – Small intimate gatherings over meals or drinks with product leaders answering seller questions build knowledge.
- External guest speakers – Invite respected sales authors or leaders from other companies to deliver inspirational talks between skills sessions.
- Outdoor teambuilding – Activities like scavenger hunts, self-guided city tours, or hiking inject energy and bonding.
- Graduation ceremony – Completing the bootcamp becomes a milestone achievement that reps feel proud of through receiving certificates, speeches, and celebrations at a special dinner or event.
For newer reps, extended retreat-style workshops accelerate their learning curve and sense of belonging on the team.
New Hire Onboarding and Shadowing
Beyond generalized sales training, customized onboarding helps new hires absorb a company’s unique processes, tools, and messaging.
Tactics to integrate new reps include:
- Shadow calls/meetings – Have new reps silently observe calls between managers and prospects to experience selling approach firsthand.
- Updated online training guides – Maintain detailed task-based walkthroughs on internal platforms like Slack for easy referencing.
- Mentor pairings – Match new hires with tenured reps for informal advice, guidance, and camaraderie.
- Feedback forms – Gather input from new reps on areas that need better training materials or clarification to improve future onboarding.
- 30/60/90 reviews – Conduct structured reviews at 30, 60, and 90 day milestones to tie training to performance metrics.
- Virtual water cooler – Schedule casual video chat sessions without an agenda for chatting and getting to know colleagues.
Strong onboarding ensures every new hire gets the specific training required to thrive in their unique sales role.
Skill-Building Games and Competitions
Beyond formal training, incorporating games and competitions adds a spirit of fun that engages reps in enhancing their skills. Examples include:
- Call scoring contests – Reps record calls, rate each other on criteria like rapport building and needs discovery, with top scorers earning points and recognition.
- Improv showdowns – Spotlight skills like objection handling by having two reps improv a fictional scenario judged by teammates.
- **Sales trivia – ** Host a sales skills trivia night with questions on concepts from past trainings to reinforce retention.
- Call listening bingo – Reps fill out bingo cards with common sales tactics and cross them off as they’re observed listening to a colleague’s recorded call.
- Gamified learning apps – Friendly competition apps like QStream incentivize regular reinforcement of training concepts through game elements.
A healthy spirit of competition masked as fun pushes reps to sharpen skills together in a collaborative way.
Cross-Department Interactions and Perspectives
While sales teams are the most outward customer-facing roles, every department impacts the customer experience. Cross-functional sales workshops build alignment on customer needs and illuminate hidden assumptions.
Examples of cross-team workshop activities include:
- Customer journey mapping – With support/marketing teams, chart the end-to-end journey prospects take with annotations on pain points observed.
- Assumptions walls – Capture presumed vs. actual customer insights from various roles on sticky notes to create shared understanding.
- Breakout problem solving – Split into cross-functional groups and have teams develop solutions to real sales challenges raised.
- Hero / Hinder peer awards – Have reps recognize team members in other departments who’ve notably helped or hindered a deal outcome.
- Product demos – Arrange for support and product teams to explain latest offerings so sales has current info to relay to buyers.
Workshops centered on perspectives beyond sales reinforce the need for organization-wide customer obsession to achieve company goals.
Motivational Sales Rally Sessions
High-energy sales meetings focused solely on inspiration, recognition, and celebration change pace from typical revenue-driven agendas.
Examples of potential motivational meeting components include:
- Guest speaker stories – Invite respected industry veterans, authors, or coaches to share their career journeys.
- Showcase standout deals – Have reps detail especially challenging deals they’ve won and key lessons learned.
- Enthusiastic manager speeches – Authentic excitement and emotion from sales leaders sparks renewed spirit.
- Team awards – Recognize top sales performers not just individually but also collaborators who supported the wins.
- Relationship building – Facilitate quality bonding time through thoughtful breakout group collaborations.
- Vision casting – Share ambitious but attainable aspirations for sales growth that energizes team momentum.
Motivation matters – inspired reps will gain the perseverance required to engage resistant prospects, hear countless objections, and ultimately win more deals.
Analyzing Call Recordings as a Team
Reviewing real sales call recordings in a group setting allows managers to highlight effective tactics and coach areas for improvement in an engaging peer format.
Best practices for call analysis include:
- Anonymizing recordings – Remove references to rep names/accounts to create psychological safety for open sharing.
- Positive reinforcement – Emphasize positives observed before constructively critiquing opportunities.
- Following structured criteria – Use consistent evaluation frameworks focused on specific skills like discovery or rapport.
- Enlisting peer review – Ask peers to identify areas the rep did well before adding manager coaching.
- Online annotation – Use tools like Gong to tag and notate key moments within calls to streamline analysis.
- Connecting insights to training – Note how skilful tactics tie back to past training topics to reinforce relevance.
By making call reviews collaborative, managers turn a potentially vulnerable experience into a team bonding activity centered on mutual growth.
Success and Failure Discussion Panels
Sales is filled with emotional highs and lows. Sharing both inspiring success stories and lessons from disappointing losses in panel format builds resilience.
Examples of potential panel discussion topics include:
- Career highlight wins – What was the biggest deal you closed and how did you make it happen?
- Big mistake autopsies – What was the worst sales mistake you made and what did you learn?
- Rejection recounts – Tell us about a time you heard endless objections but still closed successfully.
- Adaptation anecdotes – How did you adjust your approach to different personas to win?
- Unexpected win stories – Share a time you closed a deal you initially thought was unwinnable.
- Motivational moments – When did you feel most energized and driven in your sales career and why?
Storytelling allows reps to learn from each other’s real-world experiences in an authentic way while building bonds and camaraderie.
In summary, effective sales workshops and meetings require thoughtful facilitation and engaging elements tailored to your team’s needs. But the investment pays dividends in better skills application, strategic alignment, and motivational outcomes.
Creating an Ongoing Sales Training Plan
The most effective sales training initiatives follow structured plans aligned to business objectives, rep competencies, and budgets. Treating training as an always-on business capability rather than a one-off event requires planning and commitment.
Follow these best practices when creating an ongoing sales training program:
Conducting Skills Assessments and Surveys
A data-driven starting point for sales training is assessing current team strengths and gaps.
Skills assessment methods include:
- Competency testing – Have reps complete quiz-based assessments on knowledge areas like objection handling and negotiate skills.
- Skills scoring – Use criteria-based frameworks for managers to evaluate and score rep capabilities from 1-5 on dimensions like curiosity or relationship-building.
- Recording evaluations – Analyze call recordings using rubrics focused on specific best practices related to discovery, listening, or pitching.
- Surveys – Collect feedback on skill levels and desired training via anonymous digital surveys to allow for candid input.
- Psychometric evaluations – Leverage validated sales-specific diagnostic tests like Talent Insights to surface inherent strengths and weaknesses.
Baselining existing capabilities provides direction on where to focus limited training time and resources for maximum impact.
Aligning Training Needs With Business Goals
All sales training should ultimately serve clearly defined business goals so efforts stay targeted on priorities.
Ways to align include:
- Revenue growth – If increasing sales volume is the goal, train on prospecting, proposals, and pricing packages.
- Deal size – For raising average deal values, focus on value selling, negotiation confidence, and executive rapport.
- New markets – When expanding into new segments, build knowledge on emerging personas, challenges, and use cases.
- Margins – For improving profitability, teach techniques on discount avoidance, upsells, and terms structuring.
- Customer loyalty – To boost retention, train reps on account management, expansion selling, and making experiential connections.
Without tying learning to key performance indicators, sales training fails to move the needle on results.
Defining Budgets, Resources, and Timelines
Another foundational step in sales training plans is defining realistic budgets, resources, and timelines. Failing to allocate adequate funding or staff support dooms initiatives.
Budgeting considerations include:
- Vendor vs. internal costs – Weigh the pros and cons of external training partners or certified internal facilitators.
- Technology investments – Fund software like MindTickle](https://www.mindtickle.com/) or [LevelJump to scale online learning sustainably.
- Ongoing vs. one-time – Contrast large one-off investments with smaller ongoing learning budgets.
Resource planning factors:
- Facilitator ratios – Determine ideal group sizes and number of facilitators to ensure adequate support.
- Cross-training managers – Equip sales managers to properly reinforce training concepts through coaching.
- Minimum disruption – Schedule training during lower intensity periods to not sacrifice sales capacity.
- Ramp up time – Allow sufficient lead time for quality content development.
- Ongoing repetition – Repetition improves retention so space out training touchpoints rather than intensively upfront.
- Refresher planning – Plan training refresher sessions every 6-12 months depending on rate of change.
Proper budgeting, resourcing, and timeline calibration set programs up for success.
Tracking Progress and Measuring ROI
Any sales training initiative should be tracked quantitatively to determine effectiveness and guide improvements.
KPIs to track include:
- Revenue impact – Measure key performance changes like sales velocity, activity ratios, proposal values, and deal sizes.
- Rep feedback – Gather qualitative feedback via surveys and conversations on how training is affecting confidence and skills application.
- Manager observations – Document manager observations on positive behavioral changes occurring.
- Completion rates – Monitor training participation levels and which modules see higher/lower engagement.
- Assessment scoring – Quantify knowledge gains using pre and post training quizzes and certifications tests.
Without measurement tying training to key results, the program risks becoming marginalized as an extraneous cost center.
Updating and Improving the Training Program
The final step for sustaining an impactful sales training plan is actively updating and evolving the curriculum over time. Tactics to refresh content include:
- Annual skills assessments – New competency evaluations each year identify emerging skill gaps to address.
- Ongoing idea collection – Maintain an open channel for reps to continuously suggest new training topics as needs arise.
- New employee input – Gather feedback from newer reps on areas the current training misses or needs better clarity.
- Bringing in guest speakers – Rotate in different industry experts and authors to inject fresh perspectives.
- Workshop format changes – Introduce new interactive workshop formats like small breakout discussions to renew engagement.
- Sharing training KPIs – Communicate program effectiveness data to secure ongoing leadership support for training investments.
The most effective sales training plans remain flexible and receptive to change rather than rigid and fixed.
In summary, building an ongoing sales training regimen requires thoughtful strategic planning akin to any other critical business capability. While demanding in forethought and commitment, the payoff in tangible sales results makes the effort well worthwhile.
Making Sales Training Engaging and Memorable
Sales training initiatives often fail not due to poor content but insufficient energy and engagement. By infusing programs with interactivity, gamification, and creativity, managers can dramatically improve sales training completion rates, participation levels, and on-the-job application.
Infusing Energy, Creativity, and Fun
Adult learning principles emphasize that emotions greatly impact knowledge retention. Sales training loaded with drudgery and monotony leads to low energy and poor recall. Intentionally fostering excitement and fun produces better results.
Examples of energetic training elements include:
- Team costumes – Host theme days for sales training workshops where reps dress up based on a creative theme to spark smiles.
- Gamified reviews – Use game show formats like Jeopardy or Price is Right instead of dull slide decks to review content.
- Improvisation exercises – Quick hit improv activities energize teams between topics and flex creative muscles.
- Outdoor activities – Escape room challenges or scavenger hunts centered on sales topics turn learning into adventure.
- Healthy competitions – Contests, leaderboards, and achievements structured around skills goals tap into natural competitiveness.
- Physical spicers – Scatter in energizers like silly dance breaks or fun stretch sessions to reset mental focus.
- Sales trivia and quizzes – Test knowledge retention with fast-paced sales trivia questions sprinkled throughout.
Leveraging humor, activities, and fluid formats prevents sales training from becoming a dry and passive event.
Leveraging Technology and Digital Interaction
Today’s mobile-first, distracted learners require sales training delivery leveraging interactive technology to sustain engagement.
Examples of digital training elements include:
- Smartphone reinforcement apps – Apps like Qstream push brief reinforcement activities to learner phones to extend lessons.
- Online team forums – Create private online discussion forums for teams to post reflections on training topics and interact outside of workshops.
- Gamified learning platforms – Services like LevelJump structure sales training into interactive quests and scenarios with playful avatars.
- Accessibility focused design – Ensure all training resources and technology integrate critical accessibility features for inclusivity.
- Virtual collaboration spaces – For remote teams, create always-on collaboration spaces like Slack channels exclusively for sales training chatter.
- AR/VR scenarios – Emerging technologies like virtual reality will enable extremely immersive simulated sales scenarios.
- Microlearning via mobile – Reinforce training through a steady stream of bite-sized mobile-friendly content touchpoints.
Digital interactivity provides sales training greater adaptability to rapidly evolving learner expectations and styles.
Tapping Into Competition and Rewards
Competitions, leaderboards, points systems, and recognition programs incentivize sales training participation through positive peer pressure and vicarious reinforcement.
Examples of rewards and competitions include:
- Certification status – Award different certification levels as reps complete progressions of sales training courses and assessments.
- Prizes and giveaways – Offer gift cards, equipment upgrades, choice of preferred accounts and other meaningful prizes to top monthly learners.
- Social praise – Spotlight and recognize project success stories, assessments achieved, and training goals met publicly in team meetings.
- Points and leaderboards – Technologies like MindTickle integrate leaderboards and points earned across digital training modules to motivate progression.
- Sales training participation – Make training engagement part of formal rep performance scoring and incentive calculations.
Psychology proves that incentivization often yields greater commitment to sales training initiatives.
Encouraging Peer Collaboration and Feedback
Adults learn better together. Facilitating quality peer interactions, group projects, and collaborative assignments enhances sales training outcomes.
Examples of peer formats:
- Reciprocal coaching – After demos, have peers suggest micro improvements to each other to enhance receptivity to feedback.
- Team roleplay competitions – Split in groups and have teams roleplay the same scenario, with observers scoring performance to promote creativity.
- Group knowledge resources – Leverage tools like Slack and Google Docs for teams to collectively create and manage training knowledge bases.
- Account strategy sessions – Have reps conduct quick peer account reviews to brainstorm creative strategies together for nudging stalled opportunities.
- Cross-team teach backs – Assign reps to summarize concepts and teach back to another team to solidify lessons learned.
- Daily sales huddles – Short standup meetings for peers to update each other on training progress and ask clarifying questions.
Peer learning dynamics enhance motivation, accountability, and collective growth.
Getting Out of the Office Occasionally
While inefficient for routine training, occasional offsite events provide sales teams renewed focus and bonding opportunities unavailable in the office.
Examples of potential offsite/out-of-office sessions:
- Booked workation retreats – Block off 2-3 days at an inspiring resort location 100% focused on intensive sales training and planning.
- Cultural activities – Tour museums, shows, or landmarks relevant to customers as an immersive education experience.
- Community service – Volunteer as a team for causes customers care about to empathize and connect on shared values.
- Focus days in unique venues – Hold sales training workshops in creative spaces like museums or theaters for inspiration.
- Camping/outdoor trips – Disconnect from technology and bond as a team through activities like camping, hiking, and kayaking.
- Remote team meetups – For dispersed teams, organize in-person regional meetups for face-to-face trainings and social connections.
While remote workflows are increasingly normal, in-person connection time remains critical for sales team cohesion and purpose.
In summary, sales training sticks better when creative energy, peer collaboration, healthy competition, and immersive experiences stimulate learner engagement. Investments in these areas pay dividends in training completion and sales skills development.
Key Takeaways for Sales Training Success
Implementing an effective sales training program requires forethought, commitment, and proper execution. Based on proven best practices, here are the core takeaways for delivering sales training that actually impacts results:
Prioritize Continuous Skills Development
The most fundamental mindset shift needed is recognizing sales training as an always-on activity, not a one-time event. Like working out, regular “reps” are required to grow skills and stay sharp. Managers must make ongoing training a top priority on par with hitting sales targets.
Tactics like weekly roleplay exercises, monthly workshop refreshers, and quarterly skills assessments ingrain continuous development rather than sporadic training attempts. Achieving revenue goals should never take precedence over activities that enhance capability.
Take a Strategic Approach Aligned With Goals
For maximum payoff, tightly align all sales training to clearly defined business objectives, not generic best practices. Maintain a direct line-of-sight between learned skills and key performance indicators.
If the goal is increasing average deal size, ensure reps are taught value-based questioning approaches, persuasive proposal building, and negotiation tactics to raise deal values. Training alignment accelerates results.
Utilize a Variety of Training Techniques
Adult learning styles differ greatly. A multi-modal training curriculum blending various content types and delivery channels resonates broadly.
Construct programs using a mix of tactics like skills simulations, mini-course videos, motivational workshops, coaching circles, and post-session knowledge checks. Varied approaches improve adherence and comprehension.
Make it Stick With Reinforcement and Practice
Even the best training has minimal impact if reps don’t repeatedly practice new skills in real scenarios. Training reinforcement is mission-critical yet often neglected.
Use reminder apps, peer coaching, and manager observations to reinforce behaviors. Have reps submit weekly videos of them practicing new techniques in customer calls and review progress together. Consistent practice cements abilities.
Focus on Real-World Application and Results
Ultimately, sales training initiatives must be judged on their ability to move the revenue needle by directly enhancing on-the-job skills and performance.
Measure effectiveness through key indicators tied to goals like reduced churn, increased win rates, larger deal sizes, higher activity ratios, faster ramp time to quota, improved margin per sale, and boosted customer retention levels. Ground programs in practical application, not theoretical concepts, to drive P&L impact.
In summary, world-class sales training requires embracing learning as a persistent pillar of sales excellence, not an occasional event. By taking an intentional approach tailored to business objectives and rep maturity, sales leaders empower their teams to execute at peak levels in an ever-evolving competitive and disruptive business landscape.
Ongoing sales training is a must for teams striving for continuous improvement and keeping pace in a dynamic sales environment. Key takeaways include:
- Adopt a growth mindset that values lifelong learning. Training should never stop at any career stage.
- Align programs tightly to business revenue goals based on current team strengths and weakness.
- Blend educational formats and delivery channels to accommodate different learning styles.
- Make lessons stick through reinforcement activities, competitions, peer coaching and consistent practice.
- Measure training effectiveness via key performance indicators tied to goals.
- Incorporate interactivity, creativity, and technology into training for higher engagement.
- Create structured training plans that evolve based on skills assessments and new needs.
- Develop skills through roleplay, workshops, and sharing authentic experiences.
- Motivate participation via recognition, incentives, and gamification.
- Get out of the office occasionally for immersive experiences and relationship building.
- Sustain a culture of continuous development to keep skills sharp and teams inspired.
World-class selling demands world-class sales training. By embracing these takeaways, sales leaders can develop corporate programs that deliver tangible returns in revenue growth, customer loyalty, and competitive differentiation. The time and effort invested pays immense dividends.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How often should sales training be conducted?
A: Ideally every week. Formal training workshops every quarter at minimum. Short bursts of microlearning, roleplays, or skill reviews built into weekly team meetings keeps skills sharp.
Q: What’s the best way to get sales reps motivated to complete training?
A: Gamification, incentives, competitions, mandated learning requirements, and positive recognition all help drive participation. But focusing on career growth also inspires engagement.
Q: How much budget should be allocated to sales training annually?
A: Industry benchmarks range from 2-4% of total sales expense budgets. But early stage startups should invest at higher levels like 10% to accelerate growth.
Q: Should sales training be customized or standardized programs?
A: Customization is preferred to tailor learning to your selling scenarios, tools, personas, messaging, and processes. But occasional standardized programs bring fresh outside perspectives.
Q: What’s the ideal size for a sales training workshop?
A: For sufficient personal attention and interactivity, between 5-15 participants is optimal. Break into smaller groups for roleplay and exercises.
Q: How can we make sales training stick better?
A: Ongoing reinforcement through activities like skills quizzes, reminder apps, peer coaching sessions, and manager observations following training prevents knowledge decay.
Q: How do we track the ROI of sales training programs?
A: Compare revenue, activity ratios, deal sizes, win rates, and other KPIs before and after training. Gather qualitative feedback on skill improvements and changed behaviors as well.
Q: What skills should be focused on for inside sales reps?
A: Prospecting, objection handling, rapport building, active listening, needs identification, virtual selling, leveraging CRM, and presenting remotely.
Q: What skills should be focused on for field sales reps?
A: Executive relationship building, whiteboarding, solution selling, business financial acumen, negotiation, coordinating with marketing, and managing a complex sales cycle.
Q: Should new sales hires receive specialized onboarding training?
A: Absolutely. Sales onboarding accelerates new hire ramp and retention. Ensure they receive extra product, process, messaging, and culture training in their first 90 days.