Keys to Training a Sales Person

When it comes to sales, training takes on many shapes, sizes and approaches. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to take part in many sessions and have learned valuable sales techniques, as well as keys to training a sales person. Training is one of the three services we provide our clients at Acquirent (we recruit and we manage as well) and an area of focus for 2013 that has paid dividends.

To the typical business or sales division, a training budget is seen as an expense and a hit to profitability. Progressive and top sales teams view training as an investment, rather than a cost. Much like managers gaining more production out of a sales team through attention and focus—this year we increased our management headcount significantly and, as our accountant predicted, we made more money as a result—sales training will, in the long term, make your organization more money.


So how do you train a sales person and what is the best sales training approach? In order to properly train a sales person, you need to start with a solid training framework. Here are four steps to follow:

1. Train the leader and synthesize various ideas. Although a number of effective sales training techniques exist, Acquirent still employs ideas from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which was first published in 1936. We have found that using our sales leaders to synthesize their training is the most effective way to pass on knowledge and empower a sales team.

2. Make training first-hand and first-person. Using stories and pictures can help convey any idea. In each of my trainings, I use examples to help make the training and situations real for the sales individual. Often I highlight Bob Ross, who had an instructional painting show on PBS in the ’80s and early ’90s. His descriptive words while painting could help someone without sight see the images in their mind. When training, make situations real for your team and they will be able to repeat it, just like Bob Ross’s students.

3. Follow up and through. Sales training should not be established as a day or two seminar. Although these sessions can generate ideas and energy, once the session ends, people often go back to what feels comfortable. Rather, establish and introduce training as a structured program that follows a calendar. This way your sales team sees how they will implement, practice and continually improve their sales techniques over time.

4. Never stop practicing. Training is no good if you don’t incorporate a regimen your sales people and managers can practice. Otherwise, when the customer throws you off in a sales meeting or call, what do you do? Practice allows you to apply techniques to different scenarios. Much like MLB players who take batting practice before each game, sales people need to warm up and practice what we learn.

The keys to training a sales person starts with laying a foundation and continuing to enforce the learnings. Training is an ongoing process, not something that happens when you first hire someone or during an annual sales meeting.

Training also doesn’t stop when you become the boss. I constantly read and reevaluate the way we sell. And while there may not be many new revolutionary ideas there have been some meaningful evolutions to old techniques that can arm the sales person of today to be more successful. In the end, it is about helping your team make more money, and if you structure it this way, everyone wins.

Happy selling!