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Lessons Learned From Virtual Sales Training


If you have salespeople, chances are they have sat through quite a few of your virtual sales training meetings. The salespeople we work with tell us their top 3 complaints about virtual sales training meetings are that: A) They’re often disappointed they don’t learn anything new. B) They get bored on the calls as the training is not interactive enough and C) They feel like it’s hard to retain the material because it’s only presented to them once, but not reinforced in the future.

However, a formula does exist for conducting an effective virtual sales skill training meeting. The formula takes pressure off of the sales leader and spreads the responsibility for the effectiveness of the training to the participants as well.

It’s also important to remember that there is a difference between product/service training and sales skill training. Many organizations allocate most of their training time to product/service training, and not enough to skill training. Think about a professional golfer for example. They are constantly learning about new equipment and trying it out. However, the majority of their time is spent honing their skills. If a pro golfer can improve their skills, so can the most veteran of salespeople.

Here’s how the virtual training meeting formula works. Let’s use “Questioning Strategies” as a sample topic. When the training meeting begins, the sales leader sets up the topic and walks the team through the agenda for the training, INCLUDING ROLEPLAY. Some salespeople have anxiety about roleplay. This gives them a heads up that it is going to happen.

The second step in the formula is to get the individual sales team members to share their “gap” with regard to the training topic. At Sandler, we call this “pain.” It could sound like this: “Everyone write down a time from recent memory when you received a prospect objection, thought you had handled the objection, but didn’t end up closing the deal. Sales leaders know the importance of questioning in objection handling, but salespeople sometimes forget, or don’t have those skills.

What you are establishing here is that the salesperson has a skill gap. Next, each salesperson shares what they wrote down. As a facilitator, the sales leader may ask for some clarification, but most importantly, guide the salesperson to discover the impact of the skill-gap, using their own example.

The third component is what many sales manager’s typically lean on for their entire sales training meeting. However, it works much better after the salesperson “pain” has been shared. In this case, the sales leader might share a list of common smokescreen objections. That is, objections the prospect gives, but that are usually not the real objection. The sales leader may then share a list of various questioning strategies that the salespeople can use to dig deeper when they receive smokescreens, to discover the true objection.

The fourth component for the training would be for the salespeople to practice. Using web conference software breakout rooms, the salespeople can pair up and practice giving each other objections and using the questioning strategies to see if they do, in fact, help them zero in on the real objection. The prepared sales leader may even supply the “prospect” with common smokescreens, but also the real objection to make the roleplay more realistic.

The final component is called “lessons learned / action plan.” Each salesperson is asked to quickly share their biggest lesson learned from the training and what they will commit to putting into action in the coming week.

If the sales leader has the discipline to keep the training topic focused, all of this can be accomplished well within an hour training meeting. Some sales leaders attempt to run training in 30-minutes or less. Depending upon the topic, this can work, but too often, vital components are skipped, like failing to get salesperson Pain out on the table, or recapping with lessons learned at the end of the meeting.

You might be surprised that salespeople will tell you that the lessons learned portion is often their favorite. They learn from each other in that segment and also internally reinforce new beliefs and “light bulb” moments.

After adopting this process, most sales leaders will tell you the biggest difference is that salespeople are much more engaged and learn far more as they do a majority of the talking in the training. So, take a back seat, facilitate the learning and let the process and the salespeople do the work, you’ll love the results!

Chuck Terry, CEO/President

Chuck Terry, CEO/President

Sandler Training in Denver provides sales training, management and leadership training, and professional development for individuals and organizations. Let us know how we can help your team.