Most sales teams won’t ever tell you they need training — even when they do. Of course, when you’re hiring SDRs they will need some training to learn the ropes, but what about an established team that’s still not hitting key objectives, even after they’ve finished onboarding?
In these instances, you can’t simply ignore the issue and hope for the best. So what signs do you look for to assess whether some sales 101 training is necessary for your team?
6 signs your SDRs need training
If you’ve consistently had undertrained SDRs, it’s easy to become blinded to the signs that they need more training. These signs can coincide with signs your sales funnel is struggling overall, but not always. You’ll have to reexamine the team with fresh eyes if you want to start making improvements. Here are six things to look out for:
- SDRs are not consistently hitting their KPIs
- You’re not seeing leads progress through your sales stages as expected
- You notice issues during live sales calls (these are areas of training opportunity)
- Sales reps are asking similar, repetitive questions
- Sales calls and/or opportunities are ending earlier than your benchmark, or what you see across the rest of your team
- You get puzzled looks from the team when you talk about new features or options that you offer
This list can go on of course, but ideally you already have a deep understanding of where your team should be, based on your internal bell curve.
Break down the numbers so you know the top 10-15% and a bottom 10-15% of performers, where most sales reps will fall somewhere in the middle.
With this bell curve in mind, your training needs to target the SDRs in the middle, because they are the ones who are most likely to improve, and most likely to apply the training they receive.
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Sales 101 training tips
When you have a sense for which reps need some sales 101 training, consider which of the options below seem most appropriate for each SDR. Effective sales training can include lessons on your sales process and methodology as a foundation, or your B2B sales development strategy, but oftentimes more personalized training is necessary — many sales reps simply bring different skill sets than others.
You may need to help SDRs develop key skills like qualifying leads, communicating value and benefits, asking the right kinds of questions, or understanding how to set your product or service apart from competition. For this last point, training can simply mean helping them understand what your company offers and teaching them how to communicate that more effectively.
This training can take on many different shapes and sizes:
- Spot checks — asking individual team members questions on your process or product/service. Getting into this habit will give you a better sense for what your team needs, and will help them identify areas they don’t understand as well as they thought.
- Product knowledge practice — have them give an overview to the rest of the team on a certain product/service. This helps you understand their knowledge, correct misconceptions, and gives other SDRs an opportunity to understand your offer in a new or better way.
- Instructor-led group training in a classroom setting. You can use this for any overarching foundational training, or when you notice that multiple reps on your team are struggling with similar issues. You can also use this for new hires who are just getting started.
- Role plays — these provide a great low-stakes environment to hone sales techniques, and also allows you to uncover problem areas that need to be addressed with each SDR.
- Self-guided training, such as pointing them to useful YouTube videos or books. This can be a good practice at all skill levels, even for higher performers to take their sales approach to the next level.
- One-on-one training by asking what they need help with. If they’re dealing with a recurring problem and are unsure how to solve it, you can help them out and offer advice.
- Side-by-side live monitoring. By giving immediate feedback about what went wrong (and right) in a sales call, you can quickly boost performance. This method will also catch issues the SDR isn’t aware of, and so wouldn’t think to ask you about.
- Remote monitoring and post call feedback. Remote monitoring is an alternative for the SDRs who aren’t yet comfortable with you physically sitting next to them while they’re on a sales call, so it helps give you a more accurate representation of how they approach calls.
- Topic of the day exercises, where you have each team member take turns asking questions to the broader group. This gives SDRs opportunities to bring up items they know their peers struggle with, which might not always be obvious to you.
There are a ton of ways to incorporate training into your day-to-day operations, but if you’re short on time, outsourcing this can help. Outsourced training is best suited for instructor-led classroom training, which is typically either for the entire team or for a group of new starters.
Post-training steps to keep performance up
Once you have them trained, the next step is making sure your sales team continues to get results in the long run. There are a few things to consider to do this successfully:
- Enablement — providing them the right tools, materials, and other resources they need to effectively sell your service or product.
- Building strong systems — you need to ensure all of that knowledge doesn’t get lost in the day-to-day functions of the role. Having a well-organized training process can save you major headaches down the road. Consider using SOPs, checklists, or cheat sheets that summarize key points from training, so SDRs can review them periodically, and even contribute their own insights. These documents can also prove useful when training new hires, so important points don’t fall through the cracks.
- Continued refreshers — some SDRs may not have developed every skill set as well as they could, and people will need to brush up on skills if they don’t get regular practice. As mentioned above, keep training efforts regular and consistent, identifying skill sets where a rep needs a refresher, even if they’ve been with you for a while.
- Promote a culture of growth — sales teams are known for competitiveness, but they aren’t always very forgiving of mistakes or ignorance. You should aim to cultivate an environment where sales reps feel comfortable asking questions, no matter how “stupid” the question might feel for them. You never know who will be sitting on a question that they’ll never ask, and if you have one rep asking a question, then you’ll have plenty more who’ve been wondering the same thing without asking it.
Sales training will improve your team’s results, but even the best teams will struggle if they’re not getting enough quality leads to talk to. If your team isn’t getting as many appointments as they need, you may want to outsource appointment setting to a third party, like many of our clients do. These services rapidly fill your sales pipeline with qualified appointments, so your team has the opportunities they need to succeed.
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