Sales Training

Training meeting

Contrary to popular belief, a great salesperson is more often than not trained to be that way, rather than just being born with skills. While sales training is imperative for newcomers to the business, it is never too late or excessive to equip your seasoned staff with new skills or a refresher course of things they already know. In this article you will find tips on what you should be training your sales staff in and why.


Training for all new sales staff should involve the following:

Product Knowledge: this should be where your efforts begin. A trainee in sales must understand the product or services (s)he is trying to sell, and cannot effectively do so without knowing as much about the product or services as possible.

Customer Knowledge: great salespeople want to learn how their customers do their business so that they can learn how to better service their customers needs.

Competitor Knowledge: it is always important to know the basic benefits and features of your competitors products and weigh them against your own so that you can effectively explain the differences between the two and how yours is better or more valuable than your competitors.

Internal Knowledge: there are three main services that your salespeople should know about their company - delivery policies, technical services, and consultation services, if they are available. These will be tools to help your sales staff close their sales.


The following are four options for training your sales staff:

At-Work-Training (most common): this method utilizes a senior staff member (someone with experience) who takes the trainee with them on several calls to show the trainee the reality of sales. The staff member with experience highlights the calls beforehand and gives as much helpful information and tips as possible but interferes only when absolutely necessary during the actual call; where the trainee leads. A review is conducted after each call to go over positives and negatives of conduct and method.

Mentoring (extension of above): a senior staff member works as an advisor to the trainee; this advising continues throughout the new employees time at your company.

Classroom Training: this method is advantageous when attempting to train during short amounts of time while still conveying a large amount of information. The unfortunate news about this method of training is that it can be very dry and is often not backed up in the field. The good news is that trainers who are experienced can use group projects, games, role-playing and case studies to liven things up and keep the employees engaged.

Computer-Based and Electronic Training: if your company is larger and has more resources at its disposal, you can consider using electronic technology to customize a training program specifically for your company’s employees (which does not require taking them into the field). Try interactive training on the computer, interactive training videos, and satellite networks can also provide a method for “corporate” training. Internet and corporate intranet training are two relatively new media outlets for training which are becoming increasingly more popular.


The following are basic sales skills which should be a part of any sales training program:

Listening Skills: in order to identify opportunities to make sales, salespeople must be skilled at listening carefully when customers describe their business and its problems.

Presentation Skills: formal presentations (individual or group) are almost always a part of selling in a features & benefits approach or a consultative approach to sales.

Probing & Questioning: to identify opportunities for sales, as well as to help the customer understand why your product/service can help, it is essential that salespeople know how to ask questions which probe the customer for more information.

Prospecting & Qualifying: salespeople need to seek out new customers which is called “prospecting,” skills that fall under this umbrella term include: skill at trade shows, telephone selling, and the know-how to get past gatekeepers. Qualifying basically means setting priorities based on which prospects are likely to become customers.

Handling Objections: sales staff must be able to satisfy the concerns of the customer without incurring offense, they must; anticipate, recognize, and respond.

Closing Techniques: a salesperson must feel comfortable asking a customer to make an order, which effectively closes a deal. This can mean either asking for a signature on paperwork, but sometimes it requires a little convincing too.

Time & Territory Management: salespeople should be given appropriate time-management training so that they can guide themselves through their work day which is mainly spent on their own.