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Revenue & Features Editor, Co-host of Content Lab, 15+ Years of Writing and Teaching Experience
January 20th, 2021
There are any number of reputable firms offering sales training that can help your team improve. However, there are also many sub-par training regimens that will have little if any effect on sales team performance.
To succeed in 2021 and beyond, you need your team to thrive on virtual sales platforms like Zoom or Google Meet.
But here’s the thing: virtual sales training often operates under the same false assumption: If someone is good at selling face-to-face, they can easily become effective at selling on Zoom.
As a result, there’s too much emphasis on learning the platform — and too little emphasis on optimizing your sales process for the new medium.
Why platform knowledge is not enough
Zoom and other platforms are remarkably intuitive and user-friendly. Even for the non tech-savvy, you can get all you need to know about Zoom from a few YouTube tutorials and a few practice sessions with colleagues. Platform competence is critical, but it is not a guarantee of virtual sales success — and it should not be the focus of virtual sales training.
At most, 10% of training should focus on video platforms tips and tricks.
Rather, virtual sales training needs to focus on the nuanced process of translating in-person sales practices to a virtual platform. The assumption stated above is so hazardous because of the delicate, EQ-heavy nature of sales.
You can’t just shoehorn a sales process into a Zoom call and expect everything to turn out fine.
A modern sales rep is dealing with exceedingly well-informed buyers who are very aware of their other options. These customers are expecting an exceptional, personalized buying experience. The sales rep who delivers an optimal buying experience has both an easy command of Zoom and a knowledge of how the video call platform influences the sales process.
There are ways, after all, that Zoom makes the sales process easier. There are also ways it makes the sales process more difficult. The most successful sales reps today are playing to strengths, avoiding challenges, and consciously adapting their sales acumen to the digital medium.
The best virtual sales training helps you and your sales team do just that.
In order to ensure that your virtual sales training delivers the results you need, make sure it features the following:
1. Multiple sessions to extend and enrich the learning
An all-day training session sounds great, but there are some serious drawbacks to putting all of your training in a single basket, so to speak.
First off, five or more hours of training at a single time can feel overwhelming. It’s the proverbial firehose of information. In the aftermath, attendees have taken in too much information to actually implement much of it.
Second, a full day of training inevitably leaves people feeling behind in their work week. The day after a full day session is often spent catching up on the emails and calls you missed. This puts another day between learning and adoption, if the day immediately following the training is a catch up day.
Third, a single training session does not allow for sufficient reflection and skill development.
2. Review of sales call recordings to prompt self-reflection
One of the incredible benefits of virtual selling is the ability to record all sales calls. But this only pays dividends when used properly.
Call recordings allow for the most accurate feedback and self-reflection possible. Sales training should take advantage of this. The instructors can provide feedback on actual sales calls, which makes the training extremely valuable to every attendee.
Without this kind of specific, real-world feedback, it’s impossible to judge exactly how (or if) the training is making a difference in the day-to-day work of the sales team.
What’s more, recordings can show progress. Compare your week one call to your week six call. Notice how much more effectively you're putting your learning in action.
3. Role-plays to practice skill adoption
When you mention role-plays, you’re sure to get a lot of eye rolling. It’s true that not many people like role-plays — but it’s also true that role-plays work. According to They Ask, You Answer author Marcus Sheridan, “If you can do things well with your team watching you, when you meet with a client, everything gets easier.”
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. When you’re learning new techniques, there are going to be inevitable slip-ups. No doubt you’d rather have those happen in training sessions than with clients.
When they’re done well, role-plays are invaluable at building skills. The more reps you can get to prepare for a given situation, the more comfortable you’ll be when you get there.
It’s just like with athletes. Professional athletes are so skilled because they’ve gotten in so many reps for any given situation. A recent viral video showed NBA star Steph Curry hitting 105 straight three pointers in practice, all from the same spot on the floor. Shot after shot after shot. Each is a kind of role play (shooting without defense, without a crowd, with a pass from the same spot). When it’s time to take that shot in a game, he’s ready.
Curry is a career 43% three-point shooter. It’s always harder in an actual game situation. But the practice is what gets you better.
All too often, sales training ends and its effect quickly dissipates. A few weeks later, there are no vestiges of the training you spent so much money on.
Training is only valuable if it has a lasting effect on your company and your culture. The trainers need to create the scaffolding that allows for continued learning after the sessions end.
If the training incorporates specific feedback on sales calls, it’s easy to continue this process after the training wraps up.
Once teams see the value of giving and getting feedback on sales call recordings — and once they’ve practiced doing so — they can easily implement this process into their professional development.
In most companies, sales reps will have one-on-one meetings with the director of sales once or twice a month. At these meetings, they should plan to review one recent sales call, with the structure established during their training.
According to Marcus, this regular practice ensures growth:
“The more this happens, it becomes a part of the team’s DNA. They record a lot of those videos. They're self-aware because they're watching their own videos. Their managers are watching their videos, and therefore they’re constantly getting better. It becomes a culture of feedback and development.”
This way, the investment in training continues to pay dividends long after it’s complete.
Thriving in the digital-first world
Many businesses have already invested in virtual sales training, only to come away feeling like it was a waste of money. Their sales numbers didn’t bounce back the way they wanted, and the team showed only minimal adoption.
However, the right training can have a profound effect on sales team performance. It begins by debunking the assumption that the switch to virtual sales is a simple one.
Sure, many of the skills that make sales reps successful in person can be adapted to video calls, but it requires precise training, regular reflection, and multiple touch points so lessons get learned and internalized.
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