To stay competitive in today’s B2B environment, you need an effective sales training program with a clear ROI. But you can’t equip your sales team with the skills and knowledge they need to excel if you’re using outdated training techniques. U.S. companies are spending approximately $20 billion per year on sales training — an average of $1,459 per salesperson — but those training programs often yield low to no improvements in revenue.
If you want a different result, you need a new approach. Using yesterday’s sales training methods could lead to a lot of wasted time, money, and effort. In this article, you’ll learn about the latest cutting-edge sales training trends, and find out how you can use them to empower your team and drive long-lasting results.
The Problem With Curriculum-Based Sales Training
Traditional sales training often involves lengthy, in-person, classroom-based learning where sales reps passively absorb information. These programs often deliver standardized content to all participants, regardless of their prior knowledge, strengths, or weaknesses. This can lead to disengagement and training that doesn’t stick. Studies have shown that curriculum-based training is not particularly effective. Gartner research indicates that B2B sales reps will forget 70% of the information they learn within a week of training, and 87% will forget it within a month.”
Additionally, many businesses also rely on periodic training sessions delivered only at annual conferences, team meetings, or onboarding sessions. This inconsistent scheduling can result in knowledge gaps and reduced retention. Sales training content must be delivered and accessible when sellers need it – when preparing on a plane or in the car immediately before a customer meeting, when online access via a VPN connection is not possible.
Microlearning: The Future of Sales Training
Most salespeople dread uncomfortable, unrealistic role-playing exercises during training sessions. Even though these exercises often don’t represent real-world scenarios, they continue to be a mainstay during many sales training sessions. Instead of relying on traditional classroom-based or online learning, consider offering bite-sized lessons that are embedded into the process of selling and customer engagement.
Microlearning is a training method comprised of small, interactive, easily searchable lessons that speak to a more immediate relevance. According to Shift Learning, microlearning improves focus and supports long-term retention by up to 80%, and creates 50% more engagement by learners. This approach is a better fit for busy sales teams, as it allows reps to squeeze in training when it’s convenient, and learn at their own pace. By incorporating microlearning into your sales training programs, you’ll promote retention and encourage sales reps to immediately apply their training to real-world situations.
To keep microlearning engaging, you can use a mix of formats like videos, articles, quizzes, and interactive activities. This will cater to different learning preferences and encourage active participation. Contextual training emphasizes real-world examples and simulations, so sales reps get practical experience tackling unique challenges they’ll encounter when talking to customers. This approach not only improves knowledge transfer and retention but also helps you create a cohesive team with a culture of continuous improvement that shares a common understanding of what success looks like — and how to achieve it.
One Size Does Not Fit All
It’s not just customers who are demanding personalized experiences in today’s B2B world — sales reps need them, too! Personalizing training programs to an individual’s learning style is the key to boosting your seller’s customer interactions and helping them be more successful. Adjust your learning programs to changing market dynamics, customers, and individual sales rep competencies to maximize each rep’s potential. According to McKinsey & Company, companies where sales managers always tailor learning programs based on observed strengths are 1.3 times more likely to be out-performers.
You can also empower your sales team to take ownership of their professional development by engaging in self-assessment and reflection activities. This fosters a growth mindset and helps them identify areas for improvement and ongoing learning.
Leverage seller-to-customer conversation data
Conversation intelligence data, such as transcriptions of customer conversations that can be indexed and analyzed, can help you fine-tune your training efforts. By capturing and analyzing the behaviors of top-performing sellers, you can identify knowledge gaps, skill deficiencies, and areas where your reps need additional training. These data-driven insights enable the organization to make informed decisions about content, actions, and offers at each stage of the sales process. Sales management and sales coaches will get development plans, training content, and workflows to make learning continuous, more relevant, and personalized for each sales team member.
The emergence of the knowledge experience platform
When knowledge is delivered to a seller as an experience in a sales enablement solution, it’s transformative for team improvement. Creating effective sales training programs requires constant adaptation and innovation. To equip your reps with the best possible selling skills, it’s critical to stay on top of the latest sales trends and use innovative approaches to training.
TEG provides a managed service that combines sales enablement strategy, program management, knowledge/content curation, and technology delivery. We couple all that with a SaaS-based sales readiness platform, a centralized repository where salespeople can quickly find and access the best expert knowledge, content, and sales tools that are delivered to them in the right timeframe to make them more effective in every customer engagement.
Take an innovative approach to sales training to get better results. By adopting microlearning, contextual training, personalized training, and a data-driven approach to creating development plans for managers to use with reps, you’ll be able to unlock each sales rep’s full potential and drive revenue for your organization.