The average B2B sales cycle can take anywhere between a few months to as much as a year. Success in such campaigns requires your SDRs to be persistent, street smart, intelligent and tech savvy at the same time.
Training programs for new SDRs is thus extremely critical. In the absence of an adequate on-boarding, your sales executives may fail to achieve the desired results. Knowing what to focus on, and building a training program that personalizes the lessons for every learner is thus vital to building a highly productive sales team.
What defines a good salesman?
From a B2B perspective, there are five critical traits that an SDR must possess in order to succeed with their sales cycles.
Unlike B2C where a product is often defined by one or two defining characteristics, B2B sales can be a lot trickier. Enterprise technology products, for example, come equipped with hundreds, or even thousands of different features.
Mastering all of this may seem impractical.
However, as a B2B salesperson, your workers much have a fundamental understanding of the product capabilities and unique differentiators.
The relationship between a salesperson and their prospective customer is quintessential to conversion. This is true even in the case of B2C sales.
What differentiates B2B however is the lengthy sales cycle. Quite often, B2B sales may appear to reach a dead-end with no progress in sight.
It is also possible that your point of contact in the client organization may switch jobs during the sales cycle which would require you to establish contact and build relationship all over again.
All of this can be incredibly frustrating. A trained salesperson knows to keep their emotions in check and continue building a solid relationship with their prospects.
Not all leads end with conversion. Given the large ticket size of every purchase, B2B clients tend to shop around with multiple service providers before they make a decision.
As a sales manager, it is important to spot ‘conversion-readiness’ at each stage of your sales cycle.
As much as it is important for a salesperson to weed out unworthy leads early on in the cycle, it is also vital for them to identify leads who are slipping away and get them back to talking to you before they sign up with a competitor.
A lot of B2B sales happen over WebEx and other live demo applications. The ability to engage with a prospect through their demo sessions can be quite handy.
Closing the deal
Training your salesperson to close the sale quickly and efficiently is one of the most important aspects of B2B sales. Clients who shop around tend to get multiple quotes and follow ups during the latter part of the cycle.
A trained salesperson knows when to create a sense of urgency, how to strike a deal and when to walk off.
At the same time, the reps cannot push over the limit, which will make them look desperate.
Establishing a training strategy
While training your salesperson on their product knowledge may seem straight forward, that is not the case with the other traits mentioned. Moreover, all products are not the same.
It is ideal to have one-on-one training sessions with your salesperson in some cases while a visual demo through a learning management system would be appropriate in other cases.
Focus on a methodology that aligns with your business
A sales methodology is the framework that determines how your reps approach each stage of the sales process.
While a sales process maps out the sequence of stages required for success, the sales methodology ensures discipline through a system of best practices that translates into seller actions.
Every business has its own ‘tried-and-tested’ methodology and it’s important to make sure that your salespeople comply to this.
Integrate on-boarding with continuous training
Sales on-boarding helps you train an employee on the basics of effecting a successful sale. A sales process however throws up a number of different scenarios that your SDR may not be prepared for.
Mentoring from a senior colleague is thus vital to not only help them improve their sales process, but also makes up a very valuable part of sales training.
Train on fundamentals as well as emerging trends
If you are in an organization like IBM that focuses on legacy tech, then your clients are quite likely to ask questions related to modern alternatives like cloud and SaaS.
It is important for an SDR to not only be proficient in your product offerings, but also be updated on the latest trends in the industry.
A good way to train them on this is to help them attend industry conferences that enables them to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers in the industry. Not only does this help them get trained on the latest trends, like sales enablement, it also helps them present themselves as well-informed while reaching out to prospects.
Mistakes to avoid
Even the most thorough and well-structured sales training programs can turn ineffective if trainers do not take care of a few fundamentals.
Practice before a workshop
Trainers need to be at the top of their game. Without practicing the material prior to a workshop can make the training ineffective and mediocre.
Keep lessons less than 30 minutes
Studies show that lengthy training sessions can be distracting and non-productive for the learner. Modern training experts recommend the use of microlearning techniques that break down lessons into small chunks of 10 to 15 minutes each.
This ensures high engagement among learners while ensuring high retention rates. It then goes without saying that learners who train through such training methods tend to be more productive than the average salesperson.
Invest in learning experience
Traditional classroom workshops tend to be boring and ineffective; especially for sales training that require high engagement among learners. It is thus highly recommended that organizations invest in modern pedagogical training methods that engage the sales employee through simulated learning sessions.
Virtual reality, for instance, is emerging to be one of the most effective tools for sales training. Such tools enable a salesperson to simulate public speaking and engage in ‘true-to-life’ case studies that test their emotional quotient and preparedness.
In fact, some training sessions also offer ‘shrink-to-size’ product demos that allow learners to navigate inside their products to have a better understanding of how they work.
The knowledge gained through such learning experiences is invaluable compared to classroom training methods.
Sales skills are quintessential to get a B2B organization rolling. As skills get obsolete over time, new market realities and challenges set in.
Only persistent training sessions enable individuals to learn the skills they need to explore new opportunities and pathways for sustained growth.
To not to lose the war for talent, sales training must be a high-priority agenda for every B2B organization looking to succeed.