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Suggestions for Improving Your Sales Team Training

Customer Interactions Play a Huge Role in Building Loyalty & Trust

Are you a growing ecommerce business that also has brick-and-mortar locations? Do you have a team of employees that are struggling to build the right kind of customer relationships, in person or online?

At Northsail, we're a small but efficient team, which means that our clients often get to interact with most of our crew. This makes it easier for us to build rapport, in addition to always completing our projects on-time, on-spec, and on-budget.

But for larger companies with many levels of employees that interact with customers, creating strong, long-lasting relationships with consumers can make or break your business.

With that in mind, we've put together some useful tips that you can use to guide your own sales training programs; regardless of which training style you choose to adopt.

Before we jump into that, let's talk about which members of your team could be considered 'sales team' members, and why they're vital to the success of your business.

What is Your 'Sales Team'?

Depending on how large your company is, how many employees you have, as well as the type of marketing channels you use, a sales team may look very different from one organization to another.

The easiest way to really quantify your sales team is to look at every member of your company that has direct customer interactions. Each of them may play a different role in serving your customers, but all of their interactions contribute to whether or not a potential customer chooses to purchase from you.

The most obvious members of your sales team are CSRs and sales managers that run the in-store operations, but there's more to it than that.

Some companies will argue that your sales team are just the sales reps that are selling your products/services to prospective leads or customers. However, we believe that the rise of the digital age has shifted this responsibility to many other facets of your business as well.

Do you have a social media department that handles online interactions with customers? Do you have 'help desk' employees available online to answer questions or give visitors directions, if they need assistance on your website?

All of those interactions (and many more) shape the image of how your prospective customers see your brand. If you want to really establish long-lasting brand affinity, you need to consider your entire sales team.

Why is Your Sales Team Important?

Every interaction that consumers have as they pass through your sales funnel will impact their decisions about whether to purchase the products or services that you're offering.

This means that your entire team needs to stay on the same page, and provide the same top-tier level of communication skills to your consumers; no matter where they might be in their purchasing journey.

This means the entire organization needs proper training (and regular ongoing training) to ensure that every member of your team understands your sales strategy and has the sales skills to encourage conversions naturally during customer interactions.

Everything from product knowledge to industry trends are important for team members to understand, so they can easily address common objections and provide low-pressure, high-impact sales pitches.

Together, these sales techniques help develop sales leaders for your team (and your brand), as well as guide your future approach to sales training, through practical evidence of what's working – as well as what isn't.

Some Common Sales Training Methods

Online Sales Training Courses

Online Sales Training Courses are probably one of the most common sales training ideas that's become increasingly popular year-over-year; especially since the start of the pandemic.

These are really convenient, particularly for your remote sales team members, who might have to commute to make it into a physical location for sales training sessions.

They also give team members the freedom to do training on their own time, instead of having to take time out of the work day, or forcing them to come into the physical location on a day off.

Most of the time, these are hosted on the backend of the company's website, where they can share a link with their applicable team members, but keep it hidden from regular visitors by not publishing the page publicly.

One-on-One Guidance

One-on-one sales coaching might be the most effective method for helping your individual team members develop effective sales pitches.

By the same token, it's also the most time consuming. This sales methodology tends to work best for smaller companies that only have a handful of sales professionals to worry about interacting with consumers.

Typically, this can involve things like roleplay or talking through potential customer interactions ahead of time, and then giving the team members suggestions on how they can improve their techniques and reach their sales goals.

For larger organizations, this may be too time consuming to be a regular viable sales training idea, but it's still good to consider investing some time in these; at least, during the onboarding process for new team members.

Group Sales Team Training

Another very popular sales training technique that is starting to become more common again, now that we've entered the post-pandemic world and people are returning to community working environments.

Roleplaying customer situations is particularly effective here, because team members can take turns providing theoretical customer objections or customer complaints, which sales managers may not have considered.

This can be a great training tool to teach active listening skills to team members that are overzealous and may be too focused on pitching, instead of actually listening to customers.

At the end of the day, peer learning is a great way to expand everyone's skill sets simultaneously, while helping team members of lower experience levels learn crucial skills from experienced salespeople.

On-the-Floor Coaching

Similar to one-on-one sales training, on-the-floor coaching involves a sales leader or coach observing the retail floor, while a team member goes about normal customer interactions.

After the customer has left the store, the coach will then pull the team member aside and give them feedback, based on the interactions they just observed. This can be both positive and negative feedback, and in many cases, a combination of both is used to achieve the best level of performance in trainees.

This is actually called 'the sandwich method', and it helps team members being coached feel appreciated, while also allowing them to take critical feedback without becoming defensive.

It's important if your team is going to use this sales training method that you have a strong understanding of your customer personas, so that you can offer the most effective feedback after each interaction.

Recorded Playbacks

Similar to the on-the-floor coaching, but designed for the remote world, these are common training tools used for developing successful salespeople that connect with customers either online or on the phone.

This allows trainers to actually review the sales prospect's interaction with their team member in great detail, so that they can pick apart pieces of the conversation where things either went well or went poorly.

The recordings of these sections can then be played directly for the team members, alongside the advice that their trainer is suggesting, so that they can learn directly from their own interactions.

If you're going to use this sales training method, just be sure to be mindful not to come across as aggressive; especially if it involves an escalated situation with a customer.

Most team members will respond a lot better to calm observation and criticism, where you come across as objective, rather than judgmental.

5 Tips for Improving Your Sales Team Training:

1.) Avoid AI for Online Interactions

This might seem like an odd choice for our first suggestion, but it's valuable, because using AI means avoiding training online CSRs. It's a choice you have to make when you're designing your sales training strategies and creating plans for all your customer communication channels.

We've discussed the pros and cons of using AI for content production before, but when it comes to online interactions, it's probably best to avoid using AI too much.

If you have a basic question and answer system that is run through an AI client, that's one thing. However, if you're considering installing an AI chat client that customers can interact directly with, it could be a recipe for disaster.

Not only does AI not have the same sales training that you're providing the rest of your team, but effective communication is still not one of AI's strongest suits. They can mimic writing blogs and articles, but most AI struggles with trying to actually talk like a person.

And when consumers are stuck in your sales pipeline, the last thing they want to do is talk to a machine. They want quick, easy answers from a person.

2.) Teach Sales Reps to LISTEN

Sometimes, a sales team member that talks too much, or doesn't give the person a chance to speak for themselves, can become a major customer pain.

Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customers. How would you want to be treated? Guide your sales training topics around addressing pain points you can imagine your visitors having.

Having trouble thinking of ideas? Look at your reviews online. Ask customers for feedback directly, through interactive marketing like surveys or questionnaires.

You might be surprised by how easy it is to get customer feedback, when you actually ask for it. Just be sure to offer some sort of incentive alongside the request, so more of your customer base will be encouraged to participate.

Use all those insights to guide your sales efforts. Learn where your team is missing the mark and find ways to fill those gaps. If you don't, one of your competitors will.

3.) Develop Conversational Sales Pitches

A busy sales rep isn't going to want to memorize a script for every product and service that you offer. Nor will it sound good when they recite the same thing over and over to different consumers.

In today's frugal society, consumers are becoming fickler than ever. They can tell when they're being sold to, most of the time. However, when you work it into the conversation naturally, as well as help them solve their issues by offering solutions that come from an expert knowledge base, people are much more receptive.

The most effective sales training starts from a place of understanding. Once team members have listened to the customer and their issues, teach them to offer honest, experience-driven recommendations.

There's nothing worse as a customer than looking for some guidance and having a sales rep offer suggestions that clearly, they've never tried and know very little about.

A successful sales rep knows their products, and they can use that knowledge to guide comfortable conversations that naturally lead towards conversions.

4.) Let Your Team Participate in Training Development

There's a lot of incredible insights that you can learn, by giving your sales team the chance to participate in training updates or refreshes.

This doesn't necessarily mean having to hold group sessions, but it's not a bad idea. Sometimes creating an atmosphere where a substantial portion of your sales staff can interact and bounce ideas off of one another, will give you new perspectives that you might not have considered otherwise.

If you've fostered a good working environment then it's likely that your sales team wants to see you succeed as much as you do; especially if you've instituted any type of commission or rewards system on a quarterly or monthly basis.

A cooperative dialogue with your team can shine a light on customer pain points that you might be overlooking, as well as make team members feel valued and appreciated as part of your brand as a whole.

So many businesses stifle the voices of their entry-level sales team members, and it's a choice that never works in their favor. It affects morale and makes employees feel devalued.

Trust us, with how expensive it is to train a new employee, little things like giving your sales team a voice, and making them feel heard, can make an enormous difference to staff turnover and overall employee satisfaction.

5.) Ensure Online CSRs Have Access to Assistance

Not every sales person can be expected to know everything, but these days consumers want to be able to get answers quickly and easily.

Offering access to a real sales person online is great, but that's only half the battle. They can't be expected to be able to recite encyclopedic knowledge of everything you do. For businesses with more than a dozen or two SKUs, it would be difficult for anyone to have all the answers.

Ensure that these remote team members have access to sales enablement tools, which can help them get the information they need right away, if they don't have the answer themselves.

As well, it's good to give these online sales reps easy access to a managerial rep from your company, so they can deal with any issues that arise.

Customers don't like being told they can't find a solution, so it's up to you to give your online reps the tools they need to be able to find some kind of solution; at least, whenever possible.

Let Northsail Save You Time & Money on Your Sales Training

Design & Host Training Tools on Horizon

Now that you have some tips for guiding your sales team training tools, you'll probably want to put together some nice-looking landing pages that you can direct your team to use.

Thankfully, that's where Northsail's newest service - Horizon - could really help! Horizon allows you to quickly and easily build high-performance landing pages that your team can use for training, as well as for your website.

Not to mention, the custom customer data forms and widgets that you can create - all without the need for an expensive developer's oversight.

Best of all, you can try Horizon for free for 30 days. No obligation or credit cards required. So, if you're ready to take back control of your next website project, while saving time and money, what are you waiting for?

Sign up for early access to Horizon!

We’ll send you important updates about the early access program and your free invite when we are ready.

Your contact information will only be used for the early access program, not for future sales and marketing.

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