Cancel Boring Sales Training

Two local sales leaders share their tips for making education and coaching more engaging.
Written by Eva Roethler
October 13, 2021Updated: October 15, 2021

Barrett Sellers would like you to consider incorporating some silliness into your sales training. 

As the senior director of global revenue enablement at SailPoint, a security software provider, Sellers suggests that laughter and levity can transform boring sales training sessions. Engagement is particularly important when most training sessions are virtual and Zoom fatigue is all too real. Sellers adds costumes and specialized backgrounds to snappy training sessions, making development bite-sized and fun.

This might be surprising in a field that is notoriously cutthroat and prone to a sink-or-swim mentality. But there is evidence that sales training is important for hitting sales goals, and creating an engaging program is key to maximizing those benefits. Considering that organizations spend an average of $2,236 per sales person annually on training programs, it makes sense for leaders to go the extra mile to ensure their sales programs are producing a high return on investment. Better sales programs produce better sales teams.

There are a number of strategies that sales leaders can use to give training an edge. Built In Austin talked to Sellers and a vice president at MVF Global about the tried-and-true strategies they use to get the most out of their sales training programs.

 

Barrett Sellers
Sr. Director, Global Revenue Enablement

SailPoint is an identity security solutions software company. 

 

How often do you hold training sessions with your sales team, and what do those training sessions entail?

At SailPoint, continuous training is one way we ensure our success. We take our new sales crew members through sales onboarding, which we run every other month and includes six highly interactive half-day sessions. Crew members take part in this robust certification academy that features instructor-led webinars and self-service training. Our top employees from product, marketing, sales engineering, sales operations and sales lead these training sessions, delivering knowledge through storytelling, whiteboarding, breakout sessions and demos. 

It’s imperative that our sales leaders also prioritize continuous structured training within their teams. Our frontline managers learn to run their business through our Top Gun Academy, where the best of the best in the field, as well as executives, address core business and management principles in hands-on workshops. Managers often incorporate training into their regular team meetings to address a variety of important business issues. We make sure to inject humor into all of our training programs to foster a positive vibe and energize participants.

We make sure to inject humor into all of our training programs to foster a positive vibe and energize participants.”

 

What techniques or approaches have you found to be particularly effective when it comes to sales training?

With virtual work, people find themselves double- and triple-booked with meetings. So, it’s more important than ever to offer a self-service training option that team members can access at any time. We record all webinars and instructor-led training to make the content available to those who couldn’t attend the sessions live. E-learning is critical and we integrate gamification to engage attendees. 

Keeping participants engaged is our number one priority, which can be especially challenging over Zoom. We coach presenters to use very few PowerPoint slides, and to include questions, polls, quizzes, contests and other interactive elements in their training sessions. We also like to have a theme – whether it’s a Zoom background or a full-on costume, we’ve found that a theme is a fun way to break the ice and get to know the group. Laughter, levity and shorter sessions help our audience retain important information. 

 

How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your training sessions, and how do you use that information to fine-tune your approach to training over time?

During and after bigger training events like onboarding and annual kickoff, we ask trainees to provide feedback via surveys. If anything is trending in the wrong direction, we drill down to find out why and make adjustments. Hearing the voice of our internal customer is crucial to our success. This crowdsourcing allows us to build curricula that set them up for success. We also engage directly with past participants after they’ve gone through the training, asking them to share recent wins where they leveraged the techniques they learned. 

We rely heavily on data. Are our sessions being consumed? What topics are lagging per region? Are we seeing more deals close? Do we notice trends that could be considered gaps? Is ramp time decreasing for new hires? These are just a few of the many questions we ask ourselves when reviewing data to refine our training programs.

 

 

John Evans
SVP Sales

 MVF Global is a data-driven marketing platform. 

 

How often do you hold training sessions with your sales team, and what do those training sessions entail?

Learning and development is an extremely important part of MVF and has been a major focus for us in recent years. Every new member of MVF’s sales team takes part in The Sales Academy, our in-house training program that covers the fundamental aspects of sales at MVF, including our history as a company and where we’re looking to get to, how to sell our platform to a range of different companies across multiple industries, and how new partners are onboarded in a way that will set them up for success.

All sections of the academy are run by senior members of the sales team in the form of presentations, roundtable discussions and assessments alongside the day-to-day job of reaching out to prospects, building a pipeline and ultimately creating a portfolio of partners.

Upon graduating from The Sales Academy, every member of the U.S. team receives an annual $1,500 training budget that can be used to fund external courses, including “Winning By Design” and “Why You, Why You Now” by Jeff Hoffmann as recent examples.

Beyond The Sales Academy, we also schedule regular sessions for the team to come prepared with discussion topics, knowledge to share and new challenges to tackle as a group.

Every member of the U.S. team receives an annual $1,500 training budget that can be used to fund external courses.”

 

What techniques or approaches have you found to be particularly effective when it comes to sales training?

During the Academy, we prioritize input metrics such as call time and the number of meaningful conversations held to identify where each person needs more specific support to provide them with relevant coaching.

I recall a time when I worked with an Academy member who was performing well with both their number of dials and overall call time but was struggling to have the right conversations with decision-makers. After running a situational role play to get an understanding of her approach, I asked her to come to a coaching session with three recordings of calls that she had recently made. As we listened to them, we looked for strengths and opportunities to improve before coming up with a plan of action to enhance her pitch for next time. We held a few of these sessions over the course of several weeks and saw a marked improvement in her opportunity creation rate that ultimately saw her pass Academy and become a valuable member of the sales team.

As a result of this approach, where we’ve encouraged them to take the time to truly understand what great looks like in terms of our ideal partners and their own personal processes, we’re able to hold our team to really high standards.

 

How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your training sessions, and how do you use that information to fine-tune your approach to training over time?

Feedback is always encouraged within MVF, so we ask, “What went well?” and determine the “even better if” as a means of constantly improving our training and support. 

The Sales Academy has evolved massively from when I started running it in 2019. A recent example of this evolution can be seen in one of the later modules of the Academy that was originally created by our group sales director, Samairah Maqsood, to focus on negotiation techniques. As we are constantly developing the way that we sell and create partnerships with our clients, we are constantly updating the training collateral to include recent, real examples of successful negotiations that the sales team has actually used.

Another example we see is the creation of new training sessions. Since centralizing the training into a Global Sales Academy that brings together all of our sales teams into the same program, we’ve added five new modules, including one that allows senior members of the team to present their top tips for powerful outreach based on their own successes and failures.

 

 

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