6 B2B Sales Training Techniques Every Manager Should Know
The importance of training in B2B sales cannot be overstated: According to the LinkedIn State of Sales Report, the top-performing salespeople are the ones that actively spend time training with their managers. On the flip side, businesses are at risk of losing an estimated 40% of their employees within the first year if they do not provide them with proper training.
Sales training helps businesses not only to develop their teams into truly seasoned professionals but help them become the real gurus who can contribute to the company’s growth and profitability. It also helps B2B companies reduce employee turnover and retain the individuals who have already shown their loyalty and potential.
If you are still not convinced, this may open your eyes: Training your sales development representative (SDR) team can bring as much as a 353% ROI. If you do it right, that is. Read on how to improve your sales team’s performance with these six sales training techniques.
Best B2B Sales Training Techniques
Follow these B2B sales training tips to organize the training process at your company and grow a team of professional SDRs.
1. Teach industry knowledge.
As a team leader or B2B sales manager, nobody knows your industry better than you, and your sales team must be experts on everything that is going on there. This knowledge should become the foundation on which your sales team’s position is based. Your industry training should include such basic components:
- Product knowledge. If your SDRs don’t know what they are selling, how can they sell it? They should have absolutely no gaps in the product knowledge and be able to answer any question about it. This knowledge should be broad and firm enough to empower them and inspire confidence. Then your salespeople will be able to convince customers that your product is what they need.
- Market knowledge. Both general and specific, this includes the dominant trends in your sector of the market, its historical development and future forecasts, as well as your company’s position on it. Provide your sales team with facts and figures about the competition situation: who sells the same thing as you do, which prices they offer, where they have an advantage over you, and where you are better. B2B customers come to you already armed with market analytics, so give your team something to argue with.
- Customer knowledge. To offer your product to customers effectively, SDRs need to know who they are selling to: Teach them your customer’s persona, the patterns of their typical behavior, the journey they make before a purchase decision, and the most common sales objections. With this knowledge, your SDRs can structure their messaging more effectively and target the specific pain points that your product can resolve.
2. Combine training with selling.
In other words, train on the job. Often, sales reps already work with real customers while still training. Use this situation as a learning opportunity. Of course, customer satisfaction should always take precedence, so a good practice would be to assign a mentor to an SDR.
The mentor will guide the trainee on handling the customer, explain the techniques that are used, and suggest the most optimal steps to take. Such a training format combines knowledge management, sharing, online documentation, and practical exercises with real results. At the same time, the mentor should always monitor the case to make sure that it is going in the right direction.
With this approach, you are killing two birds with one stone. The sales team is developing their professional skills under expert guidance, and the job is being done at the same time. Besides, when a new sales rep manages to close a deal, they become much more motivated to go on.
For more tips on hands-on training, check out the CIENCE podcast with sales expert Justin Michael, who talks about strategic sales training and balancing the human aspects of sales development.
3. Train social selling skills.
Today, the role of social media in sales can hardly be overestimated. It’s highly unlikely you’ll meet a B2B customer out there who hasn’t done their homework on you via social media first. In fact, as much as 70% of the customer’s journey may be completed before they contact you for the first time.
This fact is both a challenge and an opportunity. Social media is a perfect channel to look for prospects and reach out to them. At the same time, in social networks, your prospects are in control of the process, and it’s up to you to shape your social media presence so that it attracts new customers to you.
Include social selling in your B2B sales training program. Teach your reps the basics of social media sales outreach, including:
- How to create professional profiles
- How to find and engage prospects
- How to post on social media to attract leads
- How to respond to social media mentions
Check the video below for some basic social selling strategies and see if you can apply them in your sales flows and SDR training. At the same time, make sure your sales team knows which content is created and posted on your official social network profiles.
4. Practice microlearning.
What is more effective—to send your sales team for a full-time week-long learning course or to portion out training in small bits on a daily basis? Definitely, the latter, if you want them to remember.
According to RPS research, microlearning improves knowledge retention by 80%. While full-time learning, on the contrary, negatively affects retention, with trainees forgetting half of the content in less than five weeks.
If, however, you organize training in short interactive sessions, they tend to be much more successful. You can achieve even higher trainee engagement and knowledge retention if these sessions include Q&A time when sales agents can ask questions that they have in the course of their daily work and get expert answers.
You can supplement such training meetings with short and focused messages that you send to your sales team regularly. Such messages should contain small but clearly structured bits of useful knowledge and sales tips that can help your salespeople in doing their jobs.
5. Mix active classroom learning and self-education.
No matter how much thought and preparation you put into your SDR training program, they might always want to learn more on their own. And this is great because, for a truly professional sales representative, education never stops.
The world is evolving with every passing year with new sales techniques becoming mainstream and others slipping into oblivion. You just have to learn constantly to keep pace with new approaches, emerging trends, and digital transformations.
This is why it is a good idea to encourage the self-education of your sales team and assist them with it. Many businesses set up a budget for training courses, workshops, and e-books that their employees choose to continue their education.
Make sure you explain the learning opportunities that are available to your salespeople already during their initial training. They can start exploring self-education options while their new knowledge is still fresh and they have not yet settled into their everyday working routine.
At the same time, you can mix self-learning with the training that you provide. Issue small assignments that require research and analysis of external resources.
6. Provide constructive feedback.
A good practice is to assign a QA expert to the SDR team whose job is to analyze the outbound calls, email or LinkedIn messaging, and meetings with B2B clients and evaluate their performance. It is important to do it as early as possible so that the memory of the experience is still fresh.
While analyzing possible improvement options, don’t forget about positive feedback. Share the sales reps’ success stories with the team and even with the company. Knowing that your effort and hard work were acknowledged is a great motivational factor.
Empower Your Sales Team Through Training
Knowledge inspires confidence and confidence invites success. Through professional and well-organized training, you can help your salespeople feel confident about what they are doing, have the power to hold even the most challenging customer communications, and turn the most difficult situations into opportunities.
With proper training, your sales agents become true representatives of your company’s brand, vision, and values. Use these tips to help shape up your training program for the maximum benefit and build a highly professional sales team where every new member gets all the opportunity, knowledge, and support to become successful.