Most salespeople aren't born ready to take on the field — with no need for guidance or insight. That's why leaders need to leverage effective sales training techniques to set reps on the right course and facilitate their professional growth.
But training sales reps can be every bit as challenging as it is necessary — so to help you navigate the process, we asked real sales leaders to share some methods they use to bring new salespeople up to speed.
Let's take a look at what they had to say.
Sales Training Techniques
- Start with 'why.'
- Teach. Show. Do.
- Commit to repetition.
- Make eye contact.
- Play 'walkup songs.'
- Follow-up with support.
- Have a bit of fun.
1. Start with "why."
According to him, "You need to explain why a framework, process, or topic is important — specifically addressing the positive outcome it creates for the team. Giving that kind of context motivates your team to improve and bolster their skills, prepares them with the tools to thrive in the short-term, and ultimately aids their career development down the line."
2. Teach. Show. Do.
Sandhu also touched on the value of leveraging a "teach-show-do" framework when training reps. Here's how he described it:
"As you can probably guess, the 'teach-show-do' framework starts with teaching. When a rep is struggling with a topic, you explain it conceptually to them — breaking it down, walking them through it step-by-step, and asking them questions along the way to ensure it's registering with them.
"Then, you move onto 'showing.' Provide best-in-class examples for each topic — some reference points of the concept in question being executed effectively. Use resources like videos, calls, recordings, emails, and output from other reps. And like you did earlier, be sure to ask them questions.
"Have them tell you what they noticed and liked, and listen actively. Try to pick out certain points or issues they raise that are worth emphasizing or explaining further. You can also support this step with role play sessions or having them shadow more experienced reps' workflows — including activities like research, prospecting, and moving calls forward.
"Finally you end by having reps 'do.' That means executing the concept themselves. You make those role play sessions more involved and realistic — or have them dive in and conduct real calls, videos, meetings, or emails."
3. Commit to repetition.
Sandhu also stressed how managers need to commit to repetition when training their reps. He said:
"It's not uncommon for reps to forget most of their sales training after their first month. That's why you need to reinforce key topics through constant repetition. If they're struggling with a topic or process, explain it in a different way — simplify what you say and provide analogies to connect the dots.
"If a team member is particularly strong in the area you're trying to address, point your struggling rep in their direction to have some questions ironed out. And once they have a grip on it, have that rep show you how to do it multiple times to ensure your training is resonating with them."
4. Make eye contact.
We also touched base with Ryan McRae — Go-To-Market-Enablement Sales Trainer at HubSpot — to see what he had to say about the topic. One key point he stressed was the value of eye contact.
According to him, "We want to make eye contact in our Zoom meetings even if we're hundreds of miles away. Post-its are your best friends. I have a tendency to look at my Zoom while I present so it doesn’t look like I’m making eye contact. I simply place a post it underneath your camera with an arrow pointing up that says, 'LOOK HERE!'"
5. Play "walkup songs."
McRae also offered another unique approach to getting your reps motivated for the day.
He said, "If you are going to meet with a group regularly, ask them to submit their 'walkup song' — a song that empowers them! Then using a music app, make a 'Walkup Soundtrack' with all of their songs. At the beginning of the next meeting, play one of the songs and highlight the person who submitted it!"
6. Follow-up with support.
McRae also stressed the importance of keeping up with reps and offering assistance when possible. According to him:
"A lot of the time, learners can not grasp or understand what you are trying to teach them and need more practice. What they don’t want to do is call attention to it. So at the end of trainings, I simply say, 'Most of the high performers practice this skill. If you want to put time on my calendar, 30 minutes, feel free. I would love to practice this.'
"Normally, I get one or two learners who want to get a handle on the content. And guess what? They end up being high performers later on."
7. Have a bit of fun.
Finally, McRae touched on the importance of fun and levity in the context of sales training.
He said, "If you can make someone laugh, tell a story about how you screwed something up, lighten the mood, or play a bit of a game, the learners will engage more. Engagement is simply entertainment plus education. When they are enjoying learning, time seems to slip by and they leave with a skill instead of a yawn."
Types of Sales Training Methods
Several sales managers essentially run "dry runs" for interactions with prospects by role-playing. In some cases, the manager might play the prospect — but some elect to have multiple reps play both sides of the conversation. That approach can give salespeople some perspective on potential customers' decision-making processes.
2. On-the-Job Training
With on-the-job training, managers can either personally guide reps through the ins and outs of their professional responsibilities or delegate more seasoned reps to show newer salespeople the ropes.
3. Sales Manuals
In some cases, sales managers might be stretched too thin to actively train reps. In those instances, having a detailed manual that salespeople can reference can be an effective way of training and guiding them through the nuances of your sales process.
4. Programs and Seminars
Sometimes, outsourcing sales training is the most effective way to reach new reps. That's why many sales leaders have their reps attend programs and seminars — out-of-company courses and workshops that offer perspective on sales techniques that managers might not be able to relay themselves.
Shaping Your Sales Training Strategy
While the list of tips above can be helpful, it's far from exhaustive. Sales training is a process you need to feel out for yourself — one where you incorporate techniques from others and figure out some of your own as you go.
Ultimately, the way you elect to train salespeople is going to be specific to your reps' individual needs, your strengths as a manager, the insight you need to relay, and the skills your team needs to develop.