Training sales reps effectively is a crucial component of any company’s success. Here’s how you can be just as successful with remote training as you were with in-person training.
In March of 2020, most businesses had to pivot to a remote model in response to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world. That shift presented several challenges, not least of which is training sales reps, especially those new to the industry. Remote training seems, on the surface, like it would be less effective than in-person training, and certainly more difficult to accomplish.
However, that may not be true. IBM recently launched an online training program for their employees and found that employees learned nearly five times the amount of material in the same amount of time spent in training. So while virtual training may seem like a downgrade from the in-person experience, it may be a better solution to training sales reps even after we can return to face-to-face activities.
Still, how you structure your training will make a lot of difference. There are ways to make remote training more effective, and failing to address these areas may make for less effective training after all. Here are some tips to succeed at training sales reps remotely without sacrificing the desired results.
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Discover 9 effective ways you can start training sales reps remotely
1. Identify training needs
No training is beneficial if your salespeople don’t need it. Spend some time identifying your business’s training needs to lay a foundation for setting up your entire learning calendar. Don’t just make assumptions or observations here, either. Get input from your employees about what kinds of training they think they need. Doing so may uncover some issues you may not have picked up on initially.
Once you know at least some of the topics you’d like to cover while training sales reps, it’ll be up to you to determine how to prioritize those topics. Perhaps an employee has requested a certain type of training, but you feel something else would be more immediately applicable. Prioritize the more necessary training, but let the employee know that you’ll be getting around to their request, so they don’t feel dismissed. If, for some reason, you think a request doesn’t need to be covered with the whole team, discuss it with the inquiring employee and see if you can come to a solution that works for both you and them.
3.Establish a process
As with most in-person interactions at work, virtual interactions require clear processes to be set forth for people to go by. Outline what your training calendar will look like and why, and explain how the process will work moving forward. That doesn’t mean you can’t tweak the process as you go along—training is never set in stone—but it will help manage expectations and ensure that your teams are all on the same page.
4. Set short-term goals
Training sales reps is more effective when you have a way to measure the success of the training. Setting short-term goals related to the employees’ training is a good way for you as a manager to evaluate what’s working well and what might still need attention. If, for example, the employees are trained on time management, set a goal for each employee to stay on schedule every day for at least two weeks. You can even incentivize people to do an excellent job with this by offering small rewards for those who are successful.
5. Use technology to your advantage
Whether you’re using software like Call Logic to record calls to use for training later or to practice whisper coaching, or you’re using other platforms like Zoom to deliver presentations, leverage the available technology to ensure that all remote employees are receiving the same training and that if anyone misses a session, they can easily catch up. Recording calls and presentations can be two of the best training tools since employees can go back and study what they’re trying to learn.
6. Interactive virtual workshops
Just because we aren’t all face-to-face as much as we used to be doesn’t mean we can’t interact with one another for business purposes. Offering virtual interactive workshops is a great method of training sales reps that puts the ball in their court to advance and get ahead. These, too, can be recorded for those who may not be able to attend, and can often be done for a nominal fee if you’re using an outside vendor.
7. Guest presentations
Let’s face it: Training can get a little tedious sometimes. Spice things up by bringing in an industry expert or other guest speaker to deliver training that may be unique and interesting. It might be tough to get well-known speakers if you don’t have the budget for it, but finding any industry leaders who are keen to present can be enough to better engage your sales reps in their remote training endeavors.
Part of successfully training sales reps is ensuring that each of them is mentored in a way that makes them feel supported and set up to win. This is probably one thing busy managers overlook the most, but it’s also one of the most important things you can do to develop your team members. Weekly or bi-weekly one-to-one meetings, goal setting, and performance reviews can contribute to training success, but less formal activities can, as well, like (virtual) happy hour conversations.
9. Game-ify training
Finally, remember you’re working with salespeople, and salespeople generally love a little friendly competition. There are multiple free or cheap platforms out there that allow you to easily convert a training program into a game wherein employees compete against themselves or each other to achieve specific training goals. When done well, this one goes a long way with keeping employees engaged, incentivized, and entertained.
And if you’re concerned, just remember that when you hire the right people, they’ll want to do a good job and will appreciate your efforts to extend training opportunities.
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