The case for delivering sales training virtually
There are all kinds of reasons why you might need to deliver sales training remotely – the obvious current reason being during COVID when we’re all being encouraged to work from home. But outside of COVID, why is it important to have a remote training strategy in place? Gartner predicts that 80% of American companies are going to continue with remote working after the pandemic, so remote sales training is unlikely to be a passing fad.
Let’s look at a few reasons outside of COVID why remote training make sense, as this could be helpful for building out your business case for creating your own remote sales training practice:
- Your salespeople live all over the country, or world. Field salespeople are expected to cover a specific territory, therefore it’s unlikely they live close to each other – so does it make sense to spend your training dollars on getting everyone together in one place?
- You want your training programme to go beyond just a few days’ training – you want next year’s sales team to do the sales training and you want to roll it out to your telesales team. Face to face training means having to deliver the session over and over, instead of having it on demand online.
- You’ve got a lot of training to fit in – and if you keep pulling everyone out of customer meetings to sit in face to face training, then you’ll never sell anything.
Even if you still deliver some degree of face to face training, it’s important to have an on-demand training programme that reps can drop in and out of depending on their skill requirements or specific customer scenarios.
So, how do we train our sales teams remotely?
There are lots of e-learning tools out there where you can upload hundreds of hours of someone droning on over a boring PowerPoint presentation – but there are different ways to do it.
Think about a normal face to face training session – you probably wouldn’t expect everyone to sit there listening to a dull presentation for 8 hours – so why create an e-learning programme like that?
The important part of any remote sales training activity is to add in some variety. Let’s think about what you could do to create a feeling of energy and variety in your remote training:
Create live events
Supplement pre-recorded content with live events where training participants are encouraged to get involved. By a session being live, and your webcam on and an expectation to engage in the session creates an energy which is lost in pre-recorded content. If you devise a week long training programme, have a couple of live events or daily check ins scheduled in.
Mix up your video content
Not every video has to look the same. Why not have a PowerPoint video for some of the more technical content, but supplement it with some self-recorded content from your sales trainers and sales managers. This can be done just on their smartphone, offering coaching and training tips, or feedback and perspectives in reaction to parts of the training course.
Encourage your participants to create their own video content – which they share within their training cohort, reflecting on different training points.
Provide some takeaway digital sales documents
Give people something to take away and review in their own time, such as a Sales Playbook documenting all of the training activities (you can use our popular Sales Playbook Template to build your own), or presentations in an easy to consume format – such as a visual infographic. No one is going to read a boring, text-heavy document that’s 80 pages long, so give them something that they’re going to want to engage with.
Plan out your entire training programme experience – and look at how you can make each step more interesting and visually engaging. Don’t just provide a link to “More Reading” – literally no one ever reviews those!
Don’t forget about coaching
Build an element of 1-2-1 or small group coaching into any training programme – whether it’s a virtual roundtable discussion after a presentation or specific coaching calls related to the training content.
This ill focus people’s minds, and ensure they pay attention if they think they’re going to be discussing the topic in a 1-2-1 setting with their manager!
Create training tasks and activities
If you’re doing training about how to deliver sales presentations, then set your sales teams challenges to go away that week and put into practice some of the training techniques covered and feedback the results and experiences they had. This feedback could be a video from a live customer presentation, a mock presentation they created for one of their customers, or them describing what they did differently and what they could incorporate into their future activities.
So much e-learning training stops at just pushing content down salespeople’s throats – and it is quite frankly dull. Mix it up with live activities that mean that salespeople can’t NOT get involved.
Give your sales teams tools, instead of training
Rather than training salespeople on how to qualify sales opportunities, why not give them a Sales Opportunity Qualification Template and have them go away and qualify their top 3 customer deals, then have a deal review with their manager, followed by a feedback session showing them how to better qualify opportunities in future?
This means the training or coaching is incredibly tailored to the gaps in the salesperson’s knowledge (because they’ve just carried out an opportunity qualification exercise and had it reviewed with their manager) and what’s more, they’ve qualified 3 of their opportunities – so they’re ahead of the game, rather than sitting in training for a few hours and having no actual completed work tasks at the end of it.
I’m a big advocate of learning through live tools and templates – which is why I created our Sales Hub – full of FREE templates for use in live sales situations and guides to help you understand how to fill in the templates.
There you have it…
None of these suggestions require some expensive sales training platform or content management tool. It’s just a bit of thinking outside of the box to mix up how you train your sales reps – and to help you avoid the easy, lazy option of boring PowerPoints with talking over it without any variation. Try new things, push the boundary a little, ask your sales teams what they would like, and be bold.