Conducting an effective, fun sales training class can be a daunting task. Keeping the energy going, ideas active, and people engaged are all three very critical pieces to the sales training puzzle. Note some helpful hints below to get you started on the road to conducting a GREAT training class for your sales team:
It is critical that you outline several topics in which you believe your sales team would benefit from learning, and then pick the one that will provide the quickest turnaround time on the training investment. For example, if 80% of your sales team is struggling with closing business, but have pipelines busting at the seams, it might be time to have a refresher on effective closing techniques.
Prepare an agenda in advance
Prior to the training, prepare an agenda. If your class will run from 8am-4:30pm, with an hour for lunch, note that in the agenda. To keep students from looking at their watches for their “break”, avoid putting scheduled breaks in the agenda. Just don’t forget to take them, or you will have a disgruntled class!
Create Training Manuals or CD’s
To help your class have an easy reference after the class is over, make sure they have training manuals or CD’s they can take with them. This will enable each class participant to keep fresh on the topic or topics taught during training, and will give you the ability as the trainer or manager to ensure they really did learn the material through “after the class” quizzes.
Think: High Energy!
Remember that teacher or professor in school that put you to sleep because their teaching style was equivalent to that of a rock? Avoid doing that by knowing your subject matter well, and teaching on subjects that interest you. If you teach on subjects that do not interest you or that you are less familiar with, you will not enjoy what you are doing, and will not have the necessary energy to teach it. Have passion about what you are teaching, and teach with joy.
Engaging the students
Don’t preach, teach. Ask questions, incorporate break out sessions, ask for volunteers to help with certain tasks, use role play-anything and everything you can to engage the students in what you are teaching. Instead of hearing your voice all day, ask the students their thoughts and opinions on the subject matter, and have them show you how they know that subject through role play or break out sessions. The more integrated the training session is, the more the students will remember after the training is over.
Icebreakers/Team Building Games
Critical to starting off on the right foot, effective icebreakers or team building games will help your training session move smoothly from one module to the next. It’s important to remember that your icebreakers or team building activities need to incorporate the diversity of your group, so make sure that you are not going to do something that would offend someone else.
Statistics show that the average attention span of any average group of students (any age) is 55 minutes. After that, you will lose them. Make sure that you take breaks after each module-even if they are very short ones-to give your students a chance to regain oxygen in their brains while also giving them time to digest what has been taught. Also a great time for them to jot down any questions they may have about the subject matter. At the beginning of the next session, allow 5-10 minutes for questions before beginning the next module.
Research your material, rehearse your material, revise your material, then deliver it. Make sure you know your subject matter thoroughly before trying to teach it to a team of adult students. They will not hesitate to ask questions-make sure you have the answers. It’s critical that your students have the confidence in you as their instructor.
Also, make sure your subject matter is relevant to what the students need to learn. Don’t give so much information that they are overloaded, but give enough that they can walk away feeling like they learned something new.
After each module, have a short quiz. This technique ensures that students are learning the subject matter being taught, and will help you identify those students who need additional after-class assistance.
After the class is over, it will be important to incorporate follow up training to ensure the students are able to continue to use the materials taught. Work with the sales manager or other sales authority to ensure you are in agreement with what needs to be taught next.
Overall, training a sales team should be a fun, learning experience for all involved, including the instructor. An effective training session incorporates a well-thought out plan, good subject material, high energy, and quizzes.