You’ve hired a new sales agent. Training has been completed, both in-house and in the field. Now the sales rep is out there making connections with customers, presenting your products, and making sales for the company.
You’re still not finished with direct sales training, though.
Just because your shiny new salesperson can get through a presentation and close sales doesn’t mean that they are constantly growing and improving. It doesn’t mean that they’re picking up good habits and avoiding bad ones. Which is why one of the the best sales training ideas is to stay invested… even after the rep is in the field.
We’re talking about follow up sales training.
What is follow up sales training?
By the time that your direct sales rep has finished with in-house training, they have all the knowledge they need to sell your products. By the time they’ve completed their field training, they’ll have the tools and techniques to succeed in closing deals. So what is follow-up sales training, and why is it necessary?
Follow up training is about filling in the gaps. Seeing where there are shortcomings in the process and learning how to overcome them. Cementing good habits and avoiding bad ones.
Is follow up sales training just for new reps?
Follow up training is a growth tool, which means that it’s for everyone. Anybody can benefit from having an experienced eye take a look at their process and show them ways to grow and improve.
That being said, it’s especially important for new hires, within the first 3 months. Why?
Because that’s when habits develop. Staying invested keeps your new hires on track and developing good sales habits and techniques, and nips bad habits in the bud before they have the opportunity to become ingrained.
Your new sales reps lack self-awareness when it comes to their sales process. They don’t know the difference between bad habits and good ones… unless you are there to help guide them through that learning process.
What’s the best way to do follow up sales training?
Follow up training is all about having a good process.
Every organization has slightly different processes in place when it comes to sales and training. Regardless of the process you choose to put in place, make sure it contains the basic elements of follow up training success.
#1: Keep (And Track) Daily KPI Numbers
In order to see how your direct sales reps are doing in the field, it’s important to keep track of their performance. You do that by finding real measurable results, keeping track of them daily, and observing the trends.
Observe the data that makes the most sense for your team when it comes to monitoring success. You can measure every presentation made, for example. And if you also measure every successful sale, you will be able to calculate what percentage of pitches the rep was able to convert into a sale.
If the close rate is poor, that helps you to see that there’s probably something in the pitch that’s going awry. If they have a high close rate but aren’t making high sales numbers, they may need to get in front of more people, or are having issues with their ice breaker.
Regardless, having the data to analyze performance is the first step to identifying the gaps in performance that a trainer will need to address.
#2: Have Time Set Aside (Daily) For Follow Up Training
Follow up training is your friend. Make time for your friend. If you invest time into follow-up training, you reap the rewards of having a top-notch sales team.
If you ignore opportunities for training, or try and cram it all into a marathon once-a-month session, you’re allowing bad habits to form and steal earning potential from your sales reps… and your organization.
Add a short training session as a part of your sales meeting, or your morning check-in. If you make the time for solid follow-up sales training, you will see the benefits.
#3: Practice In The Office Before They Hit The Field
There’s a reason why in-house training happens before field training. You have to learn knowledge before you can learn process and execution.
So don’t assume that direct sales reps should just apply any follow-up training they get out in the field. Allowing them to ‘work it out’ on real prospects without having the chance to practice can get real expensive, real fast.
Nobody wants to blow an opportunity. And nobody wants that sale more than your new direct sales agent. So do them a favor by helping them hone their pitch in the office before sending them out into the field.
If you set them up for success, you’ll boost their confidence along with their ability.
#4: Observe How They Act In The Field
That being said, just because somebody has learned a good pitch in a classroom/office environment doesn’t mean they can replicate that pitch in the field.
Let’s be real for a minute: the sales field is full of pressure. Talking to real customers with real objections will always be different, and more challenging, than running through a scenario with a fellow team member.
There’s skin in the game.
Which is why it’s so important for your new agents to internalize their new training. If they haven’t, the pitch can go haywire in the field.
If they do struggle in the field applying new concepts, that’s okay: they just need more practice. Pull them back into the office and really spend the time analyzing where the breakdown is occurring and help them learn ways to overcome those issues.
#5: Take It One Step At A Time
Chances are, there will be several issues that a new sales rep will need to work on. That’s completely fine! There will always be ways to grow and improve.
However, don’t make the mistake of trying to fix all of them at once.
Trying to fix every problem means that no problem gets the full attention it deserves. When that happens, progress happens at an incredibly slow rate… when it happens at all.
From the sales rep’s perspective, being constantly told they’re doing something wrong, without seeing measurable improvement, leads to a complete destruction of confidence. Which, in turn, reinforces the bad habits that you’re trying to correct.
Instead, pick 1 thing. 2 things tops. And work on those things until the rep has them completely nailed down before moving on to the next thing.
This has the opposite effect on confidence: by working through a difficult problem and seeing massive improvement, the direct sales agent (rightly) believes that they can work through anything and consistently improve their sales performance.
So follow these 5 elements to a good follow-up sales training process and empower your sales reps to improve!
Who should perform the follow-up training?
Here’s a little secret: one of the best ways to learn is to teach. So empowering experienced sales reps to teach new hires is a great way to instill good behavior in the trainee while reinforcing and honing good techniques in the trainer.
Not every great salesperson has the temperment to teach, but keep an eye on your sales force for traits of good leadership and mentoring. Those sales agents on your team that show promise should be empowered to help grow the newer members.
This helps take some of the work off of higher-level leadership, it encourages potential future leaders to grow in their new skills, and it helps new hires improve and feel part of a team that works together. It builds everyone, and establishes a great culture.
So engage in good follow-up training habits and you will have a direct sales team with all of the talent, skills, and techniques to take your community by storm.
Now you just need to keep them motivated. Next, we’ll examine how to motivate your team to consistent growth.
If you’re ready to be a force to be reckoned with in direct sales, Solcomm wants to know you. We help grow and empower telecom direct sales firms with great organizational support and high-level processes. Learn what it takes to be a Solcomm Subdealer!